In 1998, BEC Recordings blessed the industry with a grand collection of Christmas tunes from an assortment of Christian rock/alternative artists creating their own Christmas tunes for that non-traditional listener. A year later, BEC served up a second helping. And like most second helpings or sequels, it's not as good as the original, but unlike most sequels, it's still pretty darn good!
Happy Christmas Vol. 2 kicks off with the fast and fun tune "Christmas Day" by MxPx. Hardly Christmas-sounding and a song written by MxPx's own Mike Herrera, it's a strong cut, but not the ideal choice for opening the disc. But then again, it's a different CD all together. An extremely pleasant treat follows with Sixpence None the Richer's famous "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch." The folky, stripped-down version is delightful and a great addition to the project (it was originally recorded years earlier for an underground Christmas project). All Star United's rompingly fun version of "I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday" follows, playing heavily on having fun with an alternative Christmas sound. Plankeye performs a melodic, more traditional sounding "Jesu Bambino (The Infant Child)." Hangnail's punk version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" seems to miss the mark that the others hit, and has a more unnatural, forced feeling than anything. Joy Electric's "Lollipop Parade (On Christmas Morn)" offers up a little more of Christmas, JE style, with their signature bizarre electronic synth pop. Flight 180's "O Come All Ye Faithful" sounds almost like if Dakoda Motor Co. had recorded a punk/ska Christmas song with its raw, fast-paced version of the classic tune. Starflyer 59 serves up an almost comical version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with its melodic, subdued almost depressing Starflyer sound supporting the famous 'merry' lyrics. Viva Voce rocks out a unique version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," putting a modern rock spin on the popular song fronted by relaxed distorted female vocals. The Normals toss in their acoustic ballad "Peace Child (O Come Emmanuel)," a good soft new twist to the Christmas tune, but seems to feel a little misplaced among the surrounding tracks. Another album treat is Fanmail's fast, fun, and 'furious' pop/punk rock version of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." Norway trips us up with a Joy Electric-like version of "White Christmas." A new approach, but a bizarre take, Norway does the job, but "White Christmas" is something that would probably sound better coming from the Supertones or even MxPx. Element offers a super raw garage version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" which again does what it has set out to do, but becomes purposefully forgetable after its listen. Deluxtone Rockets suffers the same fate with "Santa Claus is Back in Town." Although not bad, amongst acts like All Star, Sixpence, and MxPx, these artists pale heavily in comparison. House of Wires joins the direction of Normay and JE with "Caroling, Caroling," a super unique and 'trippy' rendition of the holiday tune. Although almost entirely losing its Christmas feel, it somehow still manages to work, in some odd twisted way... And the ultimate album closer is the hilariously clever "The Chipmunk Song" by Lost Dogs. Reminiscent of the song that was made famous by Alvin and the Chipmunks and Chip and Dale. The Dogs put a truly sick and twisted spin on the song with the "virtual" substitutions of themselves included scattered throughout the song in the form of a clever skit.
If you're looking for a different Christmas project this Christmas, something with a little more edge and a new spin, pick up a Happy Christmas project!- Review date: 12/19/00, written by John DiBiase
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