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Thursday, December 21, 2017

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins ...
-- Howard Thurman

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
a home for the americana diaspora
Christmas 2017
Scott Foley, purveyor of pixie dust

The other day I arrived home to find our half-decorated Christmas tree sideways in the living room.  Since our cat is pretty slight, I immediately narrowed the culprits to gravity or the dogs.  And since you can't get angry at gravity .,.

So this is Christmas ...  Time was when I would trek into the radio station for my holiday show, my kids in tow and way high on hot chocolate.  I would alternately make them talk on air or ask them to quiet down while Dad was on the radio. Now, one child lives in the Bronx, another is about to graduate from college and the third will fly the coop in 2018 if everything goes as planned.  Today, the magic happens in the basement, with the ticking clock and the buzzing dryer and the pipes full of rushing water.  But Christmas occurs whether we're ready or not, whether the weather is 25 and snow or 60 and sun.  And holiday music is an essential ornament on our seasonal experience.

This Episode, we offer new stuff from Nikki Lane and Elizabeth Cook, both in collaboration with other artists.  We chill to novel holiday offerings from Matt Pond and Great Lake Swimmers, and we mostly just do our best to make the argument that musical discovery can continue through these bleak winter months.  So let's add another Duraflame to the fire and steel ourselves against the cold.

- Parker McCollum, "Hell of a Year" Probably Wrong  (McCollum, 2017)
- JC Brooks, "Back Door Santa" Christmas Soul  (Amazon, 17)
- Mavericks, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" single  (Mono Mundo, 17)
- Over the Rhine, "Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)" Snow Angels  (Beat Mgmt, 07)
- Craig Gerdes, "Christmas Eve at Our House" single  (Gerdes, 17)  D
- Willie Nelson, "Blue Christmas" Pretty Paper  (Sony, 79)
- Joel Patterson, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" Hi-Fi Christmas Guitar  (Bloodshot, 17)
- Steelism, "Linus & Lucy" single  (Intoxicating Sounds, 17)  D
- Xmas-Men, "Sleigh Ride" Santa is Real  (Xmas-Men, 14)
- Swamp Dogg, "Jingle Bells" An Awful Christmas & a Lousy New Year  (SDEG, 09)
- Nathaniel Rateliff, "Santa Baby" single  (Concord, 17)
- Yawpers, "Christmas in Oblivion" 13 Days of Xmas  (Bloodshot, 17)
- Minus 5, "When Christmas Hurts You This Way" Dear December  (Yep Roc, 17)
- Smithereens, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Alternative Rock X-mas  (Capitol, 07)
- Bonnie Prince Billy, "Christmas Eve Can Kill You" single  (Drag City, 12)
- White Buffalo, "Christmas Eve" Acoustic Christmas  (Amazon, 17)
- Great Lake Swimmers, "They Don't Make Them Like That Anymore" They Don't Make Them Like That Anymore  (Nettwerk, 17)  D
- Matt Pond PA, "In Winter" More Winter Lives  (131 Records, 17)  D
- First Aid Kit, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" Live From BBC Radio 2  (Columbia, 17)  D
- Emmylou Harris, "Angel Eyes" Light of the Stable  (Warner, 79)
- Boo Ray & Elizabeth Cook, "All Strung Out Like Christmas Lights" single  (Boo Ray, 17)  D
- Dale Watson & His Lonestars, "Christmas To Me" Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs  (Red House, 16)
- All Our Exes Live in Texas, "How To Make Gravy" 13 Days of Xmas  (Bloodshot, 17)
- Ronnie Fauss, "Everybody Deserves a Merry Christmas" An Americana Christmas  (New West, 13)
- Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, "White Christmas" It's a Holiday Soul Party  (Daptone, 15)
- Loretta Lynn, "I Won't Decorate Your Christmas Tree" Christmas Collection  (MCA, 05)
- Jarrod Dickenson, "Please Come Home For Christmas" single  (Decca, 17)
- Joseph Bradshaw & Nikki Lane, "Wait Till After Christmas" single  (Bradshaw, 17)  D
- Loose Cattle, "Shepherds in the Parking Lot" Seasonal Affective Disorder  (Low Heat, 17)  D
- Stevie Wonder, "Someday at Christmas" Someday at Christmas  (Motown, 67)

Next week, we'll heap some praise on my favorite songs for 2017, a list I find more challenging than my records list.  And, looking forward a bit, I'm expecting my first review of the year to cover new albums from a couple expats from Water Liars, Andrew Bryant's Ain't It Like the Cosmos and Marie/Lepanto's Tenkiller, featuring Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster along with Will Johnson.  Frankly, I can't wait to return to the weekly blog-slog.



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