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the gifted children : christmas, volume 4
(December 16, 2011) 
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Description from tinhorn planet:
the fourth annual christmas album from the gifted children, christmas 2011 is also their longest release (boxed set aside) since 2000 - 14 songs, 37 minutes of their interpretations of christmas classics, this is an epic by their standards:

the whole thing starts off quietly, with a sarcastic nod to the 80s synths being employed by the likes of bon iver, et al, then blows that up into a bombastic rendition of 'santa claus is comin' to town', complete with real sleigh bells, chopped canyon drums and noisy keyboards. the rest of the first side alone covers a lot of musical ground and features many different members of the gifted children extended family - a sweetly nostalgic (yet modern-sounding) take on 'i'll be home for christmas'; a gorgeous arrangement of 'up on the house top' for two acoustic guitars; 'jingle bell rock' featuring hurdy-gurdy and swinging vocals; a rocked out 'o holy night' with stacked harmonies at the payoff; the manipulated midi of 'sugar plum fairy' (from the nutcracker) that sounds like it was played through a gameboy; and finally, a dark take on 'god rest ye merry, gentlemen', with creepy feedback swells and serpentine guitar line winding around straightforward vocals.

the second side starts off with a short sound collage that collects favorite incantations of 'santa claus' in music and film. that leads into a creepy 'blue christmas', with looped drums, backwards guitars and distorted, echo-laden vocals. next up is a truly unique take on 'hark! the herald angels sing' with a country hoedown feel complete with bluegrass-influenced guitar, saloon piano, yelps and an insistent drum machine. 'the first noel' evokes artists like eluvium with its reverb-soaked piano and washed out choral vocals, then there's another masterful piece of midi manipulation, this time taking on the 'chinese dance' portion of the nutcracker. one of the stranger moments on a pretty damn eclectic album is 'the grinch', potted out and only loosely based on the original, with longtime member jim sahr spitting the first-ever rap verse on a gifted children record (don't worry, it's a far cry from rush's 'roll the bones' shark-jumping rap moment). the whole thing closes out with a full five-verse rendition of 'good king wenceslas', featuring distorted organ, gang vocals and ebows all swirling around each other in a reverb bath.

the most ambitious christmas release yet from the gifted children, and an album that will still sound fresh for years to come.
get this and throw your shitty josh groban/kenny g/carpenters christmas albums into the yuletide fire...
01 santa claus is comin' to town

jeff suszczynski - keyboards, guitar, loops, drum program, sleigh bells, voices

02 i'll be home for christmas

lady rain - voice
alexander strung - bass, samples
debase face - guitar
cranky - drums

03 up on the housetop

bill trautman - acoustic guitars

04 jingle bell rock

jim sahr - voice
mom sahr - hurdy-gurdy
justin sheehan - voice

05 o holy night

jeff suszczynski - loops, keyboards, voices, guitars
pam swarts - voice
bill trautman - bass

06 the nutcracker: dance of the sugar plum fairy

pam swarts - midi manipulations

07 god rest ye, merry gentlemen

bill trautman - loops, bass, guitars, voices


08 santa claus!

jeff suszczynski - samples

09 blue christmas

jim sahr - guitars
jeff suszczynski - loops, keyboards, voices

10 hark! the herald angels sing

jim sahr - bass, guitars, drum machine, voice
justin sheehan - voice
jeff suszczynski - piano, voice

11 the first noel

jeff suszczynski - piano, voices
pam swarts - voices

12 the nutcracker: chinese dance

pam swarts - midi manipulations

13 the grinch

jim sahr - drum program, bass, keys, voice
justin sheehan - digital manipulations, voice cameo

14 good king wenceslas

jim sahr - voices
justin sheehan - voices
jeff suszczynski - organ, voices, ebows
pam swarts - voices
the thither - manipulations


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