Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 4

Let me preface this by saying... I was skeptical. All controversy aside (and none of that will be discussed here), I do like Duck Dynasty. I think it's a great family television show, and their stories crack me up. But a Christmas album? Can they sing?

Yes they can! Duck The Halls is actually pretty good.

The Robertson clan mix traditional songs with a few originals for a heaping helping of family fun. As fans of the show can attest, it's the warmth and love of this family that makes their show a special one. It all shines through on the album.

Willie, Missy, Uncle Si, and Phil lead the way. Missy has a wonderful voice that is show-cased on I'll Be Home For Christmas. She also sings with husband Jase in a very flirty Baby It's Cold Outside.

They also bring in some a-list help on a few songs. Luke Bryan pairs with Willie on Hairy Christmas. "Like Jesus and Santa Claus, we got love behind these beards" they joyfully sing on the chorus. Sadie's sings sweetly on Away In A Manger while Alison Krauss and Josh Turner provide harmony. He then later duets with Missy on a song he wrote, Why I Love Christmas. And Phil joins George Strait for a good time on his song Christmas Cookies.

Uncle Si is entertaining as ever when he mistakes Santa Claus for Willie on The Night Before Christmas. You can also hear him on You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.  Plenty of "Hey, Jack!" for everyone.

I really enjoyed the original songs also. Camouflage and Christmas Lights is a great tribute to uniformed soldiers. The oldest son Reed Robertson, whom we really don't see much on the show, sings here. Rajin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas starts the album off and pretty much sets the tone. It reminds us of what Christmas is really all about. "Gotta buy a Barbie doll and a toy robot / You can't buy me nothing I ain't got / Some folks wanna know what it's really for / Down here we know it's about the Lord"

I honestly thought it was going to be more of a novelty joke album, but it certainly isn't. I was pleasantly surprised. You don't have to like Duck Dynasty to like this album either. If you love Christmas and Christmas music, then it's a winner.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 3

For me, it isn't the Christmas season until I listen to Straight No Chaser. Last year I included their Holiday Spirits album in my New Tunes Tuesday Christmas Edition. And this year, I add another of their albums... Under the Influence: Holiday Edition. 

It's eight tracks long in which four of the tracks include a guest singer. First they pair with Colbie Caillat on Every Day Is Christmas. It's a romantic ballad about how everyday seems like a holiday when they're with their lover. The blend is nice, and I really like the bridge, but it's a little too sticky sweet for my taste.

But the tracks keep getting better.... Next is CeeLo Green on White Christmas. I love the arrangement on this track. The doo wop beat is catchy and bouncy. CeeLo provides a nice lead vocal and makes it sound very current.

Merry Christmas Baby with Otis Redding is soooo smooth with a rocking beat. His vocal provides a unique twist on the album while Straight No Chaser is solidly in the background. This is my favorite track on the album by far.

Wonderful Christmastime with Sir Paul McCartney is safe and predictable. His voice just seems to disappear in the mix and the arrangement is very unoriginal.

The last four are original songs by the group. Home By Christmas Day and Song for Santa are excellent tracks for the a capella fan. Their sound is full and balanced, but they're really not very original. They do show their quirky and creative side with Nutcracker however. They lament attending the boring ballet instead of watching the game. "Guess I'm a guy what can I say. I'd rather watch football than ballet!" It's quite funny (and guys, I can relate!)

They wrap up the album with a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. It starts out slow then picks up with a really fun groove. A few key changes and an amazing lead vocal make it interesting.

Overall, not their "best" holiday album, but one I will listen to often. I'm a big fan of a capella bands (have I mentioned that?) and the men of Straight No Chaser do it well.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 2

First, I know it's Thursday. This is what happens when life gets in the way... your blog post is late. But, as I always say... better late than never.

This week I'm reviewing Wrapped In Red by Kelly Clarkson. This girl has amazing chops. I have watched her grow since she won American Idol in 2002. I was a fan of her then, and I'm still a fan now. I wish I could have seen her Christmas special last night, but again.... life stuff happened. That's okay. It was important life stuff with my kids.

On to the music....

She spans a variety of genres on the album including blues, country, soul and contemporary pop. There is a little something for everyone on this very Clarkson Christmas album. I think my favorite song on the album is Underneath The Tree. It has a 60's rockin' feel to it. I can definitely imagine it blaring through the mall speakers during this time of year. It was immediately added to my Christmas Favorites playlist.

Equally as rockin' is Run Run Rudolph.  She puts a Memphis Blues twist to it that's a lot of fun. Speaking of blues... Please Come Home For Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing) is full of soul. I found myself comparing it to the original just a little bit, but I still love her style. But I had to star Every Christmas, an original ballad where she really lets loose. She also really shines in front of a big band horn-section on My Favorite Things.

The album has a great mix of original songs and your holiday favorites. She sounds absolutely beautiful on Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and White Christmas. Both songs really highlight her tone and phrasing. The encore at the end pairs her with country superstars Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood on Silent Night. I loved seeing this genre-jumping country twist. It's an elegant rendition that solidifies the whole album.

With her ever powerful voice, Wrapped In Red is destined to become a holiday classic.

Friday, December 6, 2013

'Tis the Night Before The Championship

On the eve of the SEC Championship game, I felt inspired to write about it. It's been an incredible ride this year! I couldn't be more proud of my team. Mizzou-rah!

'Tis the night before the championship and all through Mizzou Nation.
The fans are not sleeping, we're full of elation!

Our black and our gold is ready to wear;
And our hearts are in Atlanta (man, I wish I was there).

All through the media there has been such a clatter!
I flipped on the TV to see what was the matter.

We've had quite a season and shocked quite a few
Last year was depressing, conference winnings just two.

But we've won the SEC East and oh, so much more.
We've earned their respect, our team can't be ignored.

"Now Franklin, Now Josey, Now Sam and Bonner!
On Wilson, On Copeland, On Washington, and Ponder!

Go DGB, Sasser, Sam and Gaines!
And don't forget Pinkel!" the fans all exclaim.

We're in this together, everyone is with you.
So go and fight Tigers, fight for ol' Mizzou!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 1

It's back! New Tunes Tuesday has been noticeably absent for a few weeks, and I apologize for that. But quite honestly, I haven't really felt a strong urge to review new music. But never fear, it's back for my favorite Christmas Edition series. For the four weeks leading up to Christmas, I'll review some of my favorite Christmas music.

This week I'm going to talk about Pentatonix - PTXmas (Deluxe Version). I fell in love with this group on the singing competition show, The Sing-Off, which is an a capella group competition. Pentatonix won season three. And by the way... the new season of The Sing-Off premieres on December 9th on NBC (don't miss it!).

First of all, their talent is amazing. Only five voices (and one is usually providing the percussion) yet they sound like a full orchestra. And they have this unique style and ability to twist and turn a song into their very own while still keeping the integrity of the song. I was very excited to hear that they put their creativity into Christmas music.

You may have already heard one of their songs that has gone viral on social media.

Amazing, right? The album is only 8 tracks long, but each one is just as amazing as the first. Carol of the Bells is definitely a jaw-dropping favorite of mine. The chorus is definitely the highlight. The "trumpet" solo in The Christmas Song is perfect and simply awesome. I've heard many versions of This Christmas and this one might be my favorite. The smooth beat and out of this world harmonies just simply make me smile.

And since I've run out of adjectives to describe this album, you should just click play and listen for yourselves. I'm going to head on over to iTunes and buy it right now! I think you will too.


Monday, December 2, 2013


The word of the day was four. You know, something like four things, four sides, or maybe the number four. I like symmetry. Eight is actually my favorite number, but I decided on four as it is more simple for photographs.

Here's what I came up with....

I thought it was a cool concept. Now... had I used my real camera with the remote, maybe a back light and a nice big white wall to project my shadow onto?  Can you envision that?  Yeah, that's what I had in mind.

But you get me standing on one leg in my kitchen taking a pic of my shadow.

It's close.

I also chose the word taboo. I took a pic of some political books and my bible. But since it's taboo (meaning I don't really like to talk about those subjects), I'm not posting my photo.

And the last topic was food. It was Thanksgiving Day in the USA, so my idea was to take photos of our feasts. Sadly, I deleted that photo before I had a chance to post it here. But it was just a big plate of food. And I ate it all. I felt stuffed for days.

So that was my week! It was awesome and now we're halfway through a new week. Time really flies...


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