Punking Out Christmas

Stand out tracks:
“Nothing For Christmas,” New Found Glory
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” William Beckett
“All I Can Give You,” Jason Lancaster
“Fool’s Holiday,” All Time Low

“Punk Goes Christmas,” as strange as the title may sound, is one of the best compilation albums to be released all year. There’s something endearing about a bunch of tattooed, angry, punk rockers showing a softer side and reveling in the Christmas spirit. Some tracks, like “Fool’s Holiday” by All Time Low, were written specifically for the occasion, while others, like William Beckett’s rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” are covers of traditional Christmas songs we know and love. Original and classic alike, these songs are orchestrated with the merry instruments one expects to hear come early December, but most of the artists also manage to incorporate their own trademarks and styles into their pieces.

One notable exception is Crown the Empire’s “There Will Be No Christmas.” The group has been increasingly successful in the past couple years mixing hardcore rock and screamo with occasional electronic influences, but this new Christmas track sounds much closer to Bruno Mars’s “It Will Rain” than anything we’ve heard from Crown the Empire recently. New Found Glory adds their characteristic group-style singing into their “Nothing For Christmas,” a sweet acoustic number that sets a slow-paced tone for the rest of the album. The Ready Set is overly cutesy as usual; their vocals are layered and as heavily autotuned as their instrumentation in “I Don’t Wanna Spend Another Christmas Without You.” It’s catchy, but also slightly annoying — definitely the lowest point in the track listing.

Both William Beckett’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” and All Time Low’s “Fool’s Holiday” are the album’s gems; the vocals are irresistibly lovely and the rhythms are exciting and fresh. And one band was even able to utilize a screaming technique while keeping the mood relatively joyous: “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by Issues is strangely impressive in its fusion of melodic finesse and hardcore vocals and instrumentation.

Whether the tone is sad, like in the Real Friends song “I Had a Heart” about missing loved ones, or the artists are cheerfully crooning about what a wonderful Christmas they’re having, like The Ready Set, all the songs are fantastic. Even the few songs about topics other than love — like Man Overboard singing about those less fortunate in “Father Christmas” — rock out in a wonderfully Christmas-time style.

“Punk Goes Christmas” could have very easily flopped with its seemingly contrasting elements, but it turned out to be quite successful and well done. I’ll be listening to this one for years to come.

related stories