The Sled – Various Artists

The Sled – Various Artists
Melodic Revolution Records – MRDM 026
This is a wonderful holiday music collection from excellent artists that also inspires the season of giving. This is not strictly traditional sounding holiday music, instead you have some seriously ear opening avant garde stylings of both known songs and originals in a variance of stylings. There is stunning piano work here, ranging from the subtly powerful emotion of Andrew Coyler’s “We Three Kings” to David Kelly’s rollicking take on “The Grinch” theme, to Federico Fantacone’s fun but intricate finger magic on “Syrinx.”Jennifer Cutting mesmerizes you and touches your soul with the poignant “Time To Remember The Poor.” Bass/stick master Don Schiff infuses a unique jazzy prog vibe into “Christmas Time Is Here.” There are so many well done tracks here that you can’t help but being enticed to see what is around the next corner, from the smokey barrelhouse romp of DC Snakebuster’s “Christmas Blues” to the the mellow funk groove of Babel’s “We Move Toward the Light” and the intoxicating ambience of Bill Rhodes’ “YES…I Hear What You Hear.” It is not at all cliche to call this a delectable music feast, but this CD is so much more. “The Sled” is promoting giving in a unique way, and are providing a download of the CD for free to those who will send some proof of an act of kindness. Anything from volunteering at hospitals or homeless shelters, donating food or clothing, donating blood or giving to a local charity will give you both some entertaining music and a warm heart during this holiday season. – MW

Star Dust

Star Dust
Melodic Revolution Records
If you are ready for a delectable and varied early Christmas music feast, then you really need to dig into this wonderful compilation. There is a succulent blend of original and classic songs with a range of musical styles as well. The opening tracks – the folksy “Raise a Glass for Christmas” by Andy John Bradford and powerful yet ambient “A Million People” by Backhand – set the table with fervent emotion. Hannah and Magnus provide an acapella masterpiece with their duet on “Silent Night.” For you folks who take your Christmas music with a shot of rock and roll, you will get your air-guitar celebrating on with Jim Crean’s take on “Blue Christmas” and the Hispanic tinged “Natal” by Colin Tench with the Christmas Chili Allstars. There are some fragrant progressive flavors here particularly on “Oltre le montagne al di la dei mari” (translates to “Mountains”) by Marco Ragni, and “Winter” by Transport Aerian. Just as Melodic Revolution Records itself has an eclectic roster, it is well-represented by the unique music and instrumental/vocal prowess on this CD. The tunes showcase how musical holiday messages can be conveyed in many forms that will touch the heart, make you laugh, cry or smile, and really appreciate the passion that went into these creations.  – MW
NOTE: MRR is also  encouraging everyone to give to those in need this holiday season. In the spirit of giving, MRR will send a free download link for this CD to anyone who sends them a picture of their involvement with Christmas charities or any other ways that you contribute to, donate, volunteer or help those less fortunate or in need during this holiday season. You can send your picture of your charitable holiday actions to


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Christmas on the Farm With….Farmer Jason

Christmas on the Farm With….Farmer Jason
For those of you who think right now is too early to start celebrating the Yuletide, don’t tell that to Farmer Jason. The latest gift from the alter-ego of Jason & the Scorchers frontman Jason Ringenberg is just that – a very enjoyable early Christmas gift. Although aimed at children, this is music that adults will get into as well, with rollicking original tunes as well as interesting takes on beloved classics. The gritty punk-fueled Americana Jason is very evident in songs like “Santa Drove a Big John Deer” and “All I Wont For Christmas (Is a Punk Rock Skunk). Yes, Jason has a silly sense of humor, but like movies by Zucker/Abrams, he knows how to make everyone laugh at silly.  “Up On The Housetop” gets a Johnny Cash boom-chicka treatment while the title track tilts in the bluegrass direction. Jason also creates lovely and reverent versions of hymns such as “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Away in a Manger” featuring the wonderful embellishments of guest vocalists. Jason is not only an excellent storyteller with his musical lyrics, but he also tells stories before most of the songs, giving the CD a real folksy feel like you are sitting around the campfire with him. Of course, you can also mosh with him in the tongue-in-cheek pounder “Eat Your Fruitcake.” So, yes, kids…and adults: there is a Santa. h=He is early this year and his name is Jason. Strap the tree to the top of the family truckster and head to his farm. You will have a blast! – MW


At Home For Christmas IV – Various Artists

At Home For Christmas IV
This is the fourth of annual projects produced by Myrtle Beach’s Harry Grillo, bringing together numerous musicians to create wonderful holiday music to help benefit Project Meet Me Half Way. There is a feast of excellent music here including both timeless holiday favorites and original compositions. The CD kicks off with a toe-tapping folksy rock version of “Joy To The World” by Atlanta area singer-songwriter Reid Stevens. “Carol of the Bells” is giving a subtle prog rock touch by renowned studio drummer Scotty Kormos. Delectable finger-picking highlights the instrumental version of “Jingle Bells” performed by NS-stick expert Don Schiff. The original compositions include the troubadour-esque minimalist ballad “Hurry On Home For Christmas” by Darren “Dew Train” Camp from the Grateful Dead tribute band Sunshine Daydream. Ella May Kay channels the grand ole dames of country with her shuffling ditty “Green Felt Christmas Tree.” California’s Broadway Posse lends a humorous touch with the jazz-hip-hop hybrid “Pimp Daddy Santa.” Harry Grillo himself contributes a touching, emotive version of “Away In A Manger.” There are so many good songs here that can’t really mention them all, but the talent and passion that went into them are obvious and there is enough variance in musical styles to hold anyone’s interest. This is another great collection of tunes you will want to spin for holidays to come, and, remember, it is also for a good cause. – MW

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Christmas Music – Jeffrey Michael

Jeffrey Michael – Christmas Music
Fireheart Music
Jeffrey Michael is a phenomenally talented pianist/keyboardist/composer who has been brightening people’s lives with his music for a number of years now. He now shines an incredibly enjoyable light on the yuletide season with this mesmerizing collection of classic songs. His talents make these beloved tunes even more beloved, as his reverent but life-brimming takes on them will warm the hearts of even the most ardent Scrooge. “Oh Holy Night,” a song usually recognized more for it’s vocal intensity is instead fused with a subtle power and vibrance that is stunning without the words. Sweeping classical arrangements of “Ode To Joy” and Pachelbel’s “Canon” really showcase the wonderment Jeffrey can create with his fingers. “Carol Of The Bells” takes you through a lush musical landscape while caressing your soul. There are also a couple of wonderful original compositions here, the breathless ambiance of “Christmas Music” and soothing warmth of “Christmas Lullaby.” If you love piano music and want to experience the joy of someone who infuses serious passion into creating piano music, do yourself a favor and check out this excellent collection. It will refresh your holiday pirit for years to come. Available for download on itunes. – MW


Celtic Woman – Home for Christmas

Celtic Woman – Home for Christmas
Manhattan Records – 2537539116
If you enjoy more traditional Yuletide music with a slightly different slant than typified presentations, you will absolutely love “Home For Christmas” by Irish vocal/musical group Celtic Woman. The vocal work alone is worth the price of admission; mesmerizing and stunningly beautiful, powerful yet joyous, these ladies can really tug at your heartstrings and enliven your holiday mood. Tasteful musical backdrops ranging from minimalist to full orchestration featuring more classical string and piano interpretations flavored by traditional Celtic embellishments flesh out the often amazing presentations. Reverent versions of hymns like “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Silent Night” are interspersed with lively takes on secular standards such as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The dramatic version of “Adeste Fideles” – the Celtic version of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” – will absolutely blow you away. The live DVD that is packaged with the CD is just as, if not more, entertaining, as witnessing these lovely ladies and their backing orchestra portray their talents, passion and joy live will really enrapture you. This is the kind of holiday entertainment the whole family can enjoy, while also creating appreciation for the musical and vocal capabilities that went into its creation. – MW