For Fans Of
The prospect of Bad Religion releasing a record titled ‘Christmas Songs’ is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows. Your first thought may be that it must be an album of parody songs, but no, these are all faithful adaptations. Most surprising of all however, is how well these famous carols translate into punk songs. It sounds exactly like you’d expect Bad Religion playing Christmas carols to sound, and that’s good.
The delicious irony in this release isn’t lost on anyone. As guitarist Brett Gurewitz put it, "…what the album is indirectly stating is that this music, and thus the world, can be powerful and beautiful stripped of God and religion. These are just really good songs, and a historically non-religious band like Bad Religion can perform them with as much power and feeling as anyone.” And just like that, covering a bunch of Christmas carols suddenly sounds very punk indeed. And if that doesn’t sell it for you, a portion of the sales of this record will go to SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).
From the underlying nod to Ramones‘ ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ that runs throughout ‘White Christmas’, to the band’s trademark three-part vocal harmonies (affectionately named "oozin’ aahs"), it sounds like Bad Religion had plenty of fun arranging and recording these covers. Greg Graffin‘s distinct vocal style sounds unusually appropriate, even when leading the a capella-style intro of ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’. You’d think his nasally, unrefined sound would seem out of place, but it doesn’t.
Amidst all the yearly Christmas carol cover albums, Bad Religion‘s ‘Christmas Songs’ certainly stands out. Whether it’s a clever jab at commercialisation or a simple cash grab is up to the listener but either way it makes for a fun and interesting change of pace this holiday season.
If you like your Christmas cheer with a side of rebellion then you’re sure to love ‘Christmas Songs’. Despite their history of anti-religious concepts and beliefs, Bad Religion is probably one of the few bands who can pull this off successfully without looking like sell-outs. And pull it off they have, thanks in no small part to the attitude and finesse with which they have approached it.
1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
2. O Come All Ye Faithful
3. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
4. White Christmas
5. Little Drummer Boy
6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
7. What Child is This?
8. Angels We Have Heard on High
9. American Jesus (Andy Wallace Mix)