The South Carolina Music Guide
Album Reviews

The Jam Room Christmas Compilation (2013) – Various Artists

After a hit and run incident, Columbia artist and musician Thomas Crouch was in ICU for several days due to a skull fracture. He will not be able to work until mid-January due to a broken collarbone. Hoping to stem the tide of his financial obligations during this time, the Jam Room has decided to put its newest Christmas compilation in service of benefitting Mr. Crouch; proceeds from its sale will go towards helping Thomas make it through this tough time. It has been nearly a decade since the recording studio has produced a year-end treasury of local musicians playing songs with a holiday theme and the wait has been worth it. All songs were recorded in the last month or so except for the reissue of one former X-mas comp song as a hidden bonus track.

The Columbia area is represented in the majority of these 18 songs, but there are also contributions from across the state, North Carolina and Georgia, as well. The styles of music here are across the board: folk, country, hip hop, punk, indie/ alt rock, old school hard rock/ metal and even one surf tune all have their space here. Megan Jean and KFB’s version of “Feliz Navidad” bridges the gap between Mexico and Louisiana with their Cajun folk. Marv Ward takes a traditional folk rock approach to “The Solstice Season”, which sounds like Johnny Cash tackling some ancient Yule-time wishes. Howdy Love and the Sounds of the Universe dish out a quiet and softly uplifting holiday cheer on “Christmas in the House of Dreams”. Trees on Mars create a sweet and sentimental take on “Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. There is a fair amount of country and alt country; Charleston’s Adam Feller makes his own Vegas-boogie out of “White Christmas” while Dead Petals spin a somber holiday tale on the alt country “18 Wheels”. More country/ alt country is provided by James Etheridge, Buck Stanley and the Mustache Brothers who tell great Christmas stories wrapped around families (some possibly dysfunctional) and even climate change (“Frosty’s Dead”). The one hip hop track here, Fat Rat Da Czar’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is a standout, featuring some playful lyrical interplay and a light-hearted holiday theme. Pop punk is here in the form of the Harlem Downtrodders’ uptempo “Just in Time for Christmas” and the great Athens band Shehehe’s “Camping on Christmas Day”. The more volatile punk is courtesy of Mr. Crouch himself; his band the Mercy Shot gives a noisy wake-up call with “Christmas Freakout”. Columbia alt rock mainstays Hot Lava Monster lay out some slamming rock on their “Silver Bells” and North Carolina’s Astrid Haven win the WTF award with their insidiously creepy industrial shockrock version of “The Little Drummer Boy”. Probably the most anticipated release on here is the Sexy Detectives’ synth punk Christmas manifesto, “ Santa’s Secret” (“How does he always/ break into our house?!”). It’s another strange, yet endearing (and maybe cautionary?) X-mas tale. Let’s not forget the Capitol City Playboys’ cover of the Ventures surf classic “Sleighride”; it’s perfect icing on a well-layered, well-meaning, and well-done cake.

You should be able to buy an online copy from bandcamp soon; keep checking back with The Jam Room on their website or facebook for details. For now, you can go grab a physical copy from the Jam Room itself, Papa Jazz or Hip Wa Zee. Call and ask if they still have some first because these might go pretty fast. Thanks to the Jam Room for making this available, it’s a great showcase of both the talent and heart of our local musicians. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Recommended if you like: The Jam Room, South Carolina music, Christmas Music

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