It's been quite an eventful week since we last talked. I premiered one of my piano pieces that I wrote, my car died and was brought back to life, then it was hit by another driver literally 15 minutes after being brought back to life, my car died again, the truck I was borrowing got a flat tire, I apparently forgot to pay one of my bills from last month, and I was selected to be a soloist with my university's orchestra in their spring concert next semester.
(If you don't know my life story, I have never won anything for playing piano in the 18 years I've been playing, so this is a huge deal for me)
So, if you're not doing anything on 19 April, you can come hear myself and my friend, Daniel (Tank), play the first movements of Saint-Saëns(myself) and Rachmaninoff's(Tank) 2nd piano concertos with the university orchestra. (Listen below! The Soundcloud link is to the piano piece I wrote. Give it a listen too, and let me know what you think!)
You know what's most exciting about this time of year? CHRISTMAS. I love it. It's my favorite holiday. Everyone puts up awesome lights, people (usually) tend to be in a much happier/jollier mood, and it's a guaranteed time that I get to see my family. You know what else is awesome about it? Society sees it socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music again. So, I'm going to tell you about four Christmas music albums that you HAVE to listen to this holiday season. So, here they are in no specified order.
Let's kick things off with one of the most chill albums you can listen to this holiday season: A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. If you don't know anything about Vince, he wrote the music for all the Peanuts cartoons and movies. Vince takes a jazz vibe to his music, and in the trio, the ensemble for this album cites Vince Guaraldi (piano, organ, arranger), Fred Marshall (double bass), and Jerry Granelli (drums), with Monty Budwig (double bass) and Collin Bailey (drums) subbing in on the Greensleeves track.
The album opens up with a super awesome arrangement of O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree), and it also shows off Guaraldi's arranging skills at other familiar songs like What Child Is This?, Hark, The Herald Angles Sing! and My Little Drum (The Little Drummer Boy). The album also has some original tracks that are shown off on the Charlie Brown Christmas Special show/movie like Christmas Time Is Here, Skating, and Christmas Is Coming. Listening to O Tannenbaum, you'll hear what sounds like a lot of monophonic (single voice) playing in both the bass and piano. The bassist is playing a bass line that gives us an idea of the harmonic progression that Guaraldi wants to take, and the piano primarily plays an improvised melody line on the tune of O Tannenbaum while also doing some chordal accompaniment in the left hand. It's a really cool rendition, and the whole album has some awesome arrangements like this one.
The next album is quite possibly one of the most rocking Christmas albums you'll ever listen to. Let's take a ride in our 1970-something Ford Mustangs again, because this album is A Twisted Christmas by Twisted Sister. This album honestly is not the greatest album in terms of musicality, but it's one of the most fun Christmas albums that you'll ever listen to. It doesn't have any original songs like the Charlie Brown album does, but Twister Sister does make some clever little lyric changes in order to make your Christmas time more brutal and more metal. The two best songs to check out on this album would definitely be O Come, All Ye Faithful and Silver Bells. Silver Bells is just incredibly rockin' throughout the whole song, and it's really fun to play. O Come, All Ye Faithful is pretty much the same vibe as Silver Bells, but you can hear a reference to the Twisted Sister hit, We're Not Gonna Take It, at the end of the guitar solo, and it actually fits really well. Oh, and yes, the music videos are just as weird as the band.
Okay, I know I said that I was talking about these albums in no particular order, but I'll go ahead and tell you that I kind of lied about that. This last one is probably my favorite Christmas album to ever be recorded, and it's by one of my favorite bands of all time. That's right, you guessed it! It's Le.......no. No, it is not whatever Justin Bieber just came out with.
Come on guys.
Pull yourselves together. You should know better than that. Back to the good music. The last Christmas album we're talking about today is Let It Snow, Baby...Let It Reindeer by Relient K. This album is a pretty long one in terms of how many tracks are on the album. It's got 17 songs on the album, six of them are originals written by none other than Matt Thiessen himself. The album kicks off with an incredible rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and it goes into the classic alternative-punk sound that Relient K loves to boast in the next track, Sleigh Ride. It goes back and forth with the alternative-punk sound and the classic punk rock skater punk sound that we all know, love, and miss from when we all thought Rip-Sticks were the coolest thing since the toaster.
My favorite song on the whole album is one of Thiessen's original tracks, Santa Claus Is Thumbing To Town. Give it a listen, if you have the time and want to head bang like you did back in middle school. It's a hilarious punk song about Santa having to hitch-hike his way around the world on Christmas Eve because his sleigh broke down. There's also a pretty killer cover of Handel's Hallelujah chorus.
Okay, I would talk more and more about Relient K's Christmas album, but I have to go practice for juries again. Semester is almost over, so expect some more in-depth content in the coming weeks. That, and I'm going to see Relient K this Saturday, and I'm so pumped. Here's the set list for the show. This will also be the....4th or 5th time seeing them for me, so it'll be a blast.
Until next time, my friends, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, but most importantly...MERRY CHADWICKMAS. WE'RE STILL GOING STRONG UNTIL THE END OF FEBRUARY. LET'S GO.
But for real, Happy Holidays, guys. Take advantage of the season to spend time with your family and friends. Because that's one of the greatest gifts you'll ever get. And sometimes you'll get to make goofy Christmas photos with them. I leave you with Christmas photos with my friends from the last two years.