Khruangbin — ‘Christmas Time Is Here’
There’s nothing revolutionary about Khruangbin, a guitar-centric trio with a thing for reverb. But the Texan band’s mostly instrumental, cosily funky, surf and psych-tinged Con Todo El Mundo LP was easily one of 2018’s musical highlights. Their cover of Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) displays all of their defining characteristics – sonic warmth, minimal layering and magnetic sensuality. And it affects you like a splendid daydream.
Tyler, the Creator feat. Fletcher Jones — ‘I Am the Grinch’
Over the last decade Tyler, the Creator has proven his superior capability as a producer, MC, visual artist, A&R guy and cultural enigma. He’s also said some pretty ghastly things on record, getting him banned from the UK and NZ and prompting severe backlash from Australian feminist group Collective Shout. This could raise doubts about Tyler’s suitability to pen original songs for a children’s film, but his super-low, inherently melancholic vocal register has always had a cartoon-like quality. ‘I Am the Grinch’ pairs soulful hip hop production with flickers of Danny Elfman’s orchestral score. Tyler wholly embraces the character, making a more convincing holiday naysayer than Benedict Cumberbatch ever could.
John Legend feat. Esperanza Spalding — ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’
No one’s surprised about John Legend releasing a Christmas album and of course it’s very sophisticated and tuneful and will add depth to Christmas playlists and radio programming for years to come. Esperanza Spalding joins Legend for a traditional jazz take on ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Everyone puts up a commendable performance and you can’t really complain. Will I listen again? Probably not.
The Beths — ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’
You have to question the motivation behind a Christmas release. In The Beths’ case, it’s partly a promotional tool and partly a way of celebrating a job well done in 2018. The NZ band also takes the opportunity to include some fanging guitar solos in their rendition of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. And no one can criticise them for doing so. It’s Christmas, after all. Add it to your indie Christmas playlists, but more importantly get your hands on their Future Me Hates Me LP.