The Flaming Lips – Christmas At The Zoo

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It’s that time of the year, so I’m sharing one of the few Christmas themed tunes that I actually enjoy. Hell, I love this song.

Here’s Christmas At The Zoo, a classic Flaming Lips tune from 1995:

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My Favorite Christmas Song

A lot of people like a lot of Christmas music. I don’t. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have some favorites, though.

My very favorite holiday tune, and the first one I can ever remember, is Darlene Love’s take on Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The original is still a transcendent, hair raising recording over 50 years later.

Credit must also go to Phil Specter’s wall of sound production and the bouncy rhythm section that makes the song just go, go, go. It seems to accelerate as it unfolds, bursting with an energy most holiday songs would wilt under. It’s a joy to hear every single year.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a couple examples of Love’s annual Late Show appearances, where she’s performed the song since 1986.

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“A Charlie Brown Christmas On Acid”

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So, in 2007 The Flaming Lips released this “secret” Christmas album under the pseudonym Imagene Peise, a play on John Lennon’s famous adage about peace. It’s called Atlas Eets Christmas. At Last It’s Christmas, get it? All punny thoughts aside, this is a delicate, hazy, gorgeous amalgamation of several classic holiday tunes that even your mom will enjoy.

Oh, and it’s been described as, “A Charlie Brown Christmas on acid,” so there’s that. I think this is more fitting than not. Imagine a handful of old holiday Chestnuts on melted 78’s beamed aboard a passing UFO and you’ll get the idea. Or just fire this up and enjoy. Fire one up and enjoy?

Here’s a formal track listing. Keep in mind that this is a warped mixture of tunes, not a traditional rendition.

1. Winter Wonderland
2. Silver Bells
3. Christmas Laughing Waltz (Jingle Bells)
4. Silent Night
5. Do You Hear What I Hear?
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
7. White Christmas (Binson Echorec Sleigh Ride)
8. Altas Eets Christmas

Thank You, Music (Jesus Birthday Listening)

It will be Christmas in a few hours.  More importantly, it will be my first day off in over a month and I’m getting a head start on savoring the opportunity for a long stretch of music enhanced repose.  I realize many of you will not be reading blogs or spending time online – some of you must have families – but I feel that it’s as good a time as any in the year to express thanks and revel in the great works of sound art that enhance our lives.  Also I’d like to know what you’re spending your equivalent holiday vacation listening to, so reply if you’re interested.

What I’m into this weekend:

1. Rangers – Pan Am Stories

This one is pure six string love, through and through.  The atmosphere is warped tape and spacey reverb and psychedelic compression but the playing is hypnotic Durutti Column inspired tapestries of melodic progression.  Swinging, flowing, building and cresting and never stopping; this feels like tuning in mid-stream to some frequency of guitarist Joe Knight’s brain, no beginning or end.  It sparkles without ever feeling consciously virtuoso, yet remaining far too impolite for wallpaper listening.  Try out mid-album stunner Jane’s Well below.

2. Sepalcure – Sepalcure

The tangentially-dubstep-related duo containing Machinedrum‘s Travis Stewart and some other guy Praveen Sharma burst out of nowhere last year with a couple EPs that balanced any lack of holy shit! novelty with a more than generous dose of holy shit! punch, dynamics, and elastic rhythm and songwriting that made them instant standouts in an exponentially flattening market.  The fact that their debut LP is a blistering collection of tuneful cutting edge productions is as unsurprising as a sunrise but equally satisfying and essential.  Constant streams of ‘aha!’ sampling and percussion flourishes along with skyward bound synth pads and neck-tingling effects keep momentum with the insistent throb of bass that’s always one step ahead of tame; it’s the kind of sound that I can easily become addicted to, listening on every commute for a week.  The fact that it’s nonthreatening is only a detriment to its chances of appearing on Best of 2011 lists (I am working on one, coincidentally) because this is one of the most solid quasi-danceable electronic releases in a long while.

3. Teebs – Collections 01

My love for Teebs is a known quantity.  While his sound is an entire utopian environment unto itself, there is always room for growth and change, even for someone preternaturally adept at crafting beat-bliss pocket symphonies.  Enter his new ‘Collections’ series.  Presented as an odds and ends gathering of sorts, only hinting that it’s less of a mission statement than the debut LP in that the tracks lack consistent segues.  This half hour is more assured and ballsy than anything he’s dropped, loaded with muscular bass and distinct structures.  There’s a tangibility and sense of confidence here which the drifting vistas of Ardour couldn’t sustain over its length, and a wider palette at work.  Collaboration provides a couple standout moments:  Rebekah Raff’s sensual harp showers Verbena Tea with a transcendent light reminiscent of Alice Coltrane, while Brainfeeder newcomer Austin Peralta anchors the sub-bass throb of LSP with twinkling piano loops.  I can listen to this while cooking, cleaning, or paying the rent.  I can enjoy it day and night and often do.  I can share it with everyone with a working set of ears.

4. Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

So I’m still really into this.  Pornographic flights of radiance, as I said.  Something new each time I listen.  In the car, in my kitchen, in my headphones mostly.  How lucky to hear something so new and so addictive and so profoundly, unpredictably gorgeous.  Expect to hear more about this, from myself and everyone else who values adventurous leaps into the unmapped terrain of where our minds and machines can go when pushed beyond what’s known.

Listen to the whole damn album below if you haven’t, already.

I’m badly in need of rest so this post stops here.  I hope to find time tomorrow for more since this is hardly all I’ve been obsessive about.  Remember, I’d love to hear what you are into this weekend and beyond!