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The CHIRP Blog

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs of the Last 25 Years: #13 - Nate Dogg, “Be Thankful”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #13, and the soulful (and seasonal) sounds of Nate Dogg.



#13: Nate Dogg - "Be Thankful" (1996)

At the beginning of 1996, Death Row Records still looked unstoppable. The February release of All Eyez on Me cemented Tupac Shakur's status as West Coast hip-hop's preeminent voice, and a forthcoming album from Snoop Doggy Dogg promised to build on the massive popularity of his still-spun 1993 debut. Ten months later, the label as a tastemaking force was essentially over, with Tupac slain, Snoop on his way to sign with Master P's No Limit Records, and label cofounder Suge Knight sent up on parole violations and rackateering charges. It's odd, then, that Death Row picked December 1996 for the release of its first (and only) Christmas compilation. Christmas on Death Row came out at the exact moment when the once-triumphant label had the least to celebrate.
 

Meant to drum up some positive PR (all proceeds went to charity), the album faltered, selling only 200,000 copies and failing to distract from the label's mounting problems. It also failed from an artistic standpoint, delivering mostly safe R&B numbers and by-the-book covers instead of the bombast that fans had come to expect. Still, it has its merits, the biggest coming from the late Nate Dogg, who'd already earned a reputation as the most soulful voice of '90s hip-hop. On "Be Thankful," Nate Dogg shoulders the full weight of the label's painful year (including the delay of his own G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & 2.) with a mixture of resignation, reflection, and perseverance. It's a message the resonates with lots of people this time of year, even if they're not dealing with a crumbling hip-hop empire and the threat of federal prison time.

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs of the Last 25 Years: #14 - Ice Choir, “It’s Different Now”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #14, and a holiday chairty single done right by Ice Choir.

 

#14: Ice Choir, "It's Different Now" (2014)

"Last Christmas." "Fairytale of New York." "Christmas Wrapping." The '80s were a great decade for holiday music, but that legacy often gets unfairly smudged by the glut of truly terrible charity singles that populated the airwaves back then. I'm already on the record as being generally fine by the sentiment, but if you're going to attempt a holiday charity single in 2014, you've got to bring it harder than Sir Bob Geldoff ever did.

Based on his new entry into the holiday game, Ice Choir's Kurt Feldman is more than up to the task. On his new 7", aptly titled Pure Holiday, the synth-pop cypher ignores the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" crowd and distills the essence of those great '80s holiday tunes into a track that comes with all of the nostalgia and none of the casual racism.

Beneath those vintage keys and faux chimes also rests a more relatable charitable message. Instead of making a misguided effort to save a continent he doesn't know very much about, Feldman simply reflects on his own good fortunes and realizes that sharing a bit of that with others would make everyone's season brighter.

Feldman doesn't even make a call for money in the song, simply asking for "health and peace for one more year." However, all proceeds from the sale of his single benefit the Coalition for the Homeless. It's condescension-free giving, and it makes me want to open my heart and my wallet.

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

SKaiser writesOverlooked Albums of 2014: The Presidents of the United States’ Kudos to You!

The Presidents Of The United States of America | Kudos to You! | PUSA

There's something to be said about not giving a f*ck when it comes to worthless opinionated pressures around you. Instead of settling for less of yourself, why not embrace the irreverent and let go. The Presidents Of The United States Of America seem to have mastered this approach for over two decades now. It seemed their last album released in 2008, These are The Good Times People, would in fact be their last; but alas, in February 2014 they released Kudos To You! It was for fun. It was for play. But that's what we love about PUSA. What more could you expect but a shit eating grin growing wider as each track passes by with lyrics of fruit, spiders, fleas, mites, a finger monster, and one crappy ghost. The indie rock, gotta keep some twang, with a smear of grunge that launched PUSA in the early 90's is sprinkled throughout, but it's relevant and genuine to who they are today. Well, it's relevant to all of us really. Who hasn't looked in the rearview mirror of a heartbreak and laughed at the hilarity of wallowing in self-pity. Thank you for reminding us in "Poor Little Me", PUSA. And raise your had if you're scared of a little "Finger Monster". Anyone? This is an album to lift your spirits or rotate at an upcoming shindig. Possibly next summer when you're swinging from a "rope (tied) around a branch, flying into a swimming hole / in Oh-hi-oh". 

Chris Ballew (vocals, bassitar) | Jason Finn (drums, vocals) | Andrew McKeag (guitbass, vocals)

 

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Categorized: Album Reviews

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