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The O.C. Supertones
Joy Electric
Chasing Furies
Starflyer 59
Five Iron Frenzy
Sarah Masen
Pep Squad
Bon Voyage
Seven Day Jesus
Flight 180
House of Wires
Fold Zandura
The Dingees

Happy Christmas Vol. 1 - Click to view! HAPPY CHRISTMAS (1998)
Joyously seasonal and randomly spirited, BEC Recordings gathers an unprecedented legion of ska, electronic, rock and pop artists for a holiday party like no other. "Joy to the World" is given an aggressive spin by the Orange County Supertones; Joy Electric follows with an odd and enjoyable "plastic" mix of "Winter Wonderland." In a recording that appeared a season before their debut, "O Come, Emmanuel" realizes the vast, exploring alternative of Chasing Furies. Further on, Starflyer 59's original "A Holiday Song" seems immoderately western for a collection of this caliber. Five Iron Frenzy presents one of the most perfect covers of all time in the late Rich Mullins' "You Gotta Get Up," revamped to fit the band's ska/swing bent. "Away in a Manger"--as recorded by Plankeye—dwarfs most mixes of the carol, adding a "rounds" bridge and a new "So let them praise Him" tag line. "To save us all from Satan's power"—the reason for Christ's coming as interpreted by Almonzo on their interpretation of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," a scathing reply to the argument of Christmas = commercialism. "Holly Jolly Christmas" draws an interesting comparison, as BEC duo Bon Voyage lay down tracks that Burl Ives would likely enjoy. The now-defunct band Seven Day Jesus parlay "O Holy Night" into a steady, uninhibited modern masterpiece. No comment whatsoever on Flight 180's Hawaiian sidetrack "Mele Kalikimaka." Switchfoot's contribution to Happy Christmas finds the band pondering a metaphor between "me and the trees / losing our leaves / falling like blood on the ground"; expounding on life's toll and Christ's call, "Evergreen" surpasses most other seasonal originals for original thinking and sublime musical backdrop. The computed "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is too midi for my liking, but does showcase the novel style of House Of Wires. Swarming guitar and unconventional technique lend interest to Fold Zandura's "Asia Minor." A hectic, adolescent vein of scaled-back punk is evidenced in "Christmas at My House" by the Huntingtons. Pointing out the fickle and undecided faith of us all, Puller finish off the CD with a didactic vision of the "Savior Of the Fools." A storm of styles, perspectives and approaches, Happy Christmas teaches many hard truths as it celebrates the baby born in Bethlehem's stable.
- Josh M. Shepherd
December 1999
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