It may say October 13 on the calendar, but it’s Christmas as far as labels are concerned. A cascade of holiday titles hit stores today led by Bob Dylan’s first ever Christmas album.
David Archuleta, “Christmas From the Heart” (Jive): After only one studio album, Archuleta is already playing the holiday card. The CD is largely a collection of traditional carols, such as “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night,” both perfect fits for his expressive voice.
Bowling for Soup, “Sorry for Partyin’ (Jive): Grammy and Emmy-nominated group known for its fun pop ditties returns with its 10th studio album. First single was the double-entendre filled “My Wena,” (yeah, go ahead, you know you want to say it). Next up is “No Hablo Ingles.”
Neil Diamond, “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” (Columbia): Only Diamond could get away with this: the title track references many of Diamond’s greatest hits. Let’s see if he was able to work in “Hot August Night.” “Holly Holy” is a given. There’s also a new version of “Amazing Grace” and, in what could become a cult classic, Diamond covers Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song.” The rest have been previously released.
Bob Dylan, “Christmas in the Heart” (Columbia): Zimmy’s first ever Christmas album includes such standards as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” All US artist royalties from sales of the CD go to Feeding America. International sales will also go to charity. Get in the Christmas spirit early and do your part.
Five for Fighting, “Slice” (Aware/Columbia): FFF, otherwise known as John Ondrasik, releases fifth album. The title track as well as another cut, “Above the Timberline,” were co-written with Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, composer of music for “Wicked, “ “Pippin” and “Godspell.” We see Broadway in Ondrasik’s future.
The Flaming Lips, “Embryonic” (Warner Bros.): Double disc from Oklahoma’s top rockers includes guest spots from MGMT and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O. Lead Lip Wayne Coyne has stressed that the band freed itself to follow its “psychic intuition” on the 18-song set. Yeah, because as much as you love them, structured and standard are never terms you would use to describe The Flaming Lips’ music.
Mario, “D.N.A.” (J): R&B singer is already off to a good start as “Break Up,” the first single, climbs to No. 2 on Billboard’s R&B tracks chart. He’s only 23, but Mario has already made a name for himself as both a singer and an actor. On his fourth album, working with producers/songwriters like Sean Garrett, Tricky, and Babyface, he shows a new maturity and really shows off his vocal chops.
Harper Simon, “Harper Simon” (Vagrant): Let’s see if the apple falls far from the tree. Harper Simon is the son of Paul Simon (and for “Graceland” fan, described in the line “My traveling companion is nine years old/he is the child of my first marriage”) Now he’s all grown and making music of his own. Also appearing are such famous scion as Sean Lennon, Petra Haden and Inara George.
Sugarland, “Gold and Green” (Mercury Nashville): Following their charttopping “Live on the Inside” CD/DVD, the duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush returns with their first holiday album. In addition to such standards as “Winter Wonderland” and “Holly Jolly Christmas,” the album includes five new seasonal tunes written by the pair.