Monday, December 7, 2015

CD Review: Christmas Comes Alive With New Holiday Classics

Let the Christmas season begin with "Welcome To Our Christmas Party" from the Band Of Merrymakers, which features Natasha Bedingfield, Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), Tyler Glenn (Neon Trees), Nick Hexum (311), Kevin Griffin (Better Than Ezra) and Michael Fitzpatrick (Fitz And The Tantrums). The group is led by Griffin with songwriter/producer Sam Hollander (Train, On Direction) and features a bunch of special guests singing along to some original and classic Christmas carols. The new eleven song release begins with the holiday pop feel of "Snow, Snow, Snow" and "Holiday In L.A." as the songs become a group sing-along. They lay down a dance beat to "Jingle Bells" and find the perfect blend of light-hearted fun to "It's Christmastime," which features lead vocals from Christina Perri. The wonderfully warm vocals of David Ryan Harris brings out the emotions of the holidays to "O Holy Night," before the album closes with the up-tempo pop of "Must Be Christmas" and the countrified sing-along of "Auld Lang Syne." To find out more about this Band Of Merrymakers, please visit

One of the ultimate Christmas albums is "The Christmas Song" by the immortal Nat King Cole and it also has the distinction of becoming the first Christmas album to be released by Audio Fidelity in SACD format. As flawless as Cole's vocals are, the music benefits the most from this remaster. His version of of "The Christmas Song" is a holiday staple and his warm vocal delivery invites you in for a wonderful Christmas listening experience. The golden tones of "O Tannenbaum" and "Silent Night" allow you to deeply examine Cole's amazingly timeless voice. He also shows his playful side with "Deck The Hall" and "Caroling, Caroling" as the music plays a bigger role in this new remastered edition. While one time a year may not be enough to enjoy this new version of "The Christmas Song," this will certainly be in constant rotation throughout the holiday season. To find out more about the SACD version of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" album, please visit

From New Orleans comes the first Christmas album from singer/guitarist Kenny Neal titled "I'll Be Home For Christmas." It was released through Cleopatra Records and features Neal's blues guitar sound with help on vocals from his daughter Syreeta Neal. The new eleven song album begins with the full-blown blues sound of "Christmas Comes But Once A Year" as the album is a family affair with Darnell Neal on bass and Fredrick Neal on piano. Syreeta's vocals brighten the sound of the classic "Winder Wonderland," but its Kenny's harmonica playing that makes "Ill Be Home For Christmas" the highlight of the album. He puts some southern rock swing into "Merry Christmas Baby #2," before closing with an upbeat, bluesy rendition of "Silent Night." To find out more about Kenny Neal and his latest release "I'll Be Home For Christmas," please visit

American singer/songwriter Jennifer Saran has been taking residence in Hong Kong and recently worked with famed producer Narada Michael Walden on her new Christmas album, "Merry Christmas, You Are Loved." It features sixteen songs mixed between newly written originals and famous holiday classics. The album begins with Saran showcasing her amazing vocals in "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" and the emotional "Mary, Did You Know." She adds a jazz swing to "O Holy Night" and has some playful holiday fun with Narada on the wonderfully delivered "Baby, It's Cold Outside." The album finishes up with five originally penned songs from Saran and Walden. The special sounds of "Merry Christmas, You Are Loved" and the up-lifting "Mine At Christmas Time" are new songs that are sure to become holiday favorites. To find out more about Jennifer Saran and her new release "Merry Christmas, You Are Loved," please visit

Finally, from Washington D.C. comes the new holiday album from Rocknoceros, the premier rock band on the children's music scene. They performed at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and The Kennedy Center and are looking to gather up the Christmas spirit with nine new classics. Beginning with "Halloween Masquerade," Rocknoceros look to capture all of the holidays, following that with "This Thankgiving." They also pay homage to Chanukah with a rockin' version of "The Dreidel Song," before delivering the story of "The Night Before Christmas." The short 20-minute album closes with the fun, reggae rhythm of "Auld Lang Syne (Enjoy Yourself)." To find out more about Rocknoceros and their new album "Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros," please visit

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