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Holiday Album Review: CeeLo Green – "CeeLo's Magic Moment"

It’s that magical time of year when we get to hear all of our favorite Christmas and holiday classics. In honor of this festive occasion, we decided to review one of the most popular and highly anticipated holiday albums that came out this season, CeeLo’s Magic Moment by R&B singer CeeLo Green.

By now you are probably sick of hearing all the same old carols over and over, but if there’s anyone to breathe new life into these standards it’s CeeLo. As you can imagine, he brings a certain element of class and glamour to each track, while also introducing some fitting originals. However, the first half of the 14-track record is about all you need to get into the Christmas spirit. After that, it gets a bit boring.

Though needless to say, CeeLo has captured this “magic moment” the one way he knows best, with nostalgic soulful 70’s style flair mixed with contemporary pop sensibility. His duet with fellow The Voice judge Christina Aguilera on “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is surprisingly reserved and charming, whereas one might have expected the two powerhouse singers to overdo it. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of rifs and runs between the two, but they manage to balance them dynamically with the smokey jazz club vibe.

To continue this feeling, CeeLo follows up with a cover of Donny Hathaway‘s “This Christmas.” With smooth basslines, orchestral brass accents, and subtle strokes of clean guitar , the 70’s homage sounds like it was recored in the same era in which it was written. Of course, this must lead into a smooth downtempo version of “The Christmas Song,” which sounds like it easily could have been the work of R. Kelly. Yet, there’s something uniquely comforting about Green’s voice that makes this track an instant standard for holiday radioplay. In fact, many of these renditions are so respectfully executed that I am sure they will be welcomed into the ever-growing repertoire of iconic holiday classics. With the slick production quality and “sexy” R&B/jazz vibe, I can picture this album being the soundtrack to some high-class New York penthouse Christmas party.

There are plenty of fun tracks for the whole family, though. “All I Need Is Love” is an upbeat original featuring none other than the jolly old Muppets themselves. While the song is a bit awkward, upon listening, you can tell it was clearly made for the video, which is fun and hilarious. Believe it or not, however; the track that follows is probably the most interesting and unusual piece on the record. Green teams up with the all-male a capella group Straight No Chaser for a comically theatrical rendition of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch,” interspersed with excerpts from the original Dr. Seuss text.

This is about where the album reaches its peak. Some of the songs that follow are more obscure, like “River” and the heavily religious “Mary, Did You Know?,” both of which are beautifully performed, but just a little too solemn. Almost too typically, Green tackles Mariah Carrey‘s “All I Want For Christmas,” without straying too much from the original, making for a pretty blasé listen. Of course, not to be short on cameos, Green throws in one last duet with renowned adult contemporary singer Rod Stewart and the famous Trombone Shorty. Still, the impact is not nearly as lasting as the first half of the album. However, he elegantly closes with possibly the best cover on the record. Green’s version of “Silent Night” is soothing and poignant at first, building in dynamics with a marching rhythm, multiple modulations, and an uplifting orchestral and choral arrangement to finish.

Although there are plenty of Christmas albums that come out every year, CeeLo’s Magic Moment strikes just the right balance of fresh and traditional, without being too cheesy. Whether you like it or not, these songs are here to stay and will likely become a regular addition to annual Christmas shopping playlists.

If you like CeeLo Green, then you might also like Ourstage’s own Jasper Sawyer.

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The Editorialist: 8 Holiday Covers You Need To Hear
FUN. Cover Christmas Classic, Sleigh Ride

The Editorialist: 8 Holiday Covers You Need To Hear

The holidays are a time for friends, family, baked goods, and of course, the release of cover songs from some of your favorite artists past and present. From fun.‘s recent cover of Sleigh Ride all the way back to the days of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, our playlist has a little something for everyone.

Listen to our playlist below and let us know your choices for best holiday cover in the comments.

Holiday Covers We Love from OurStage on 8tracks Radio.

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Glamour Kills Holiday Festival Tonight: The Wonder Years, A Loss For Words, Transit, And More

Boston posi-core fans, dawn you now your gay apparel, for tonight Glamour Kills clothing company is hosting one of the biggest alternative/pop-punk shows of the season, A Very GK! Holiday Festival. According to the festival Facebook page, the lineup and estimated set times are as follows:


10:15 – END = The Wonder Years
9:30 – 10:00 = A Loss For Words
8:45 – 9:15 = Transit
8:00 – 8:30 = The Dangerous Summer
7:20 – 7:45 = Hit The Lights
6:50 – 7:10 = With The Punches
6:20 – 6:40 = Brian Marquis
5:50 – 6:10 = Hostage Calm

5:20 – 5:40 = I Call Fives
4:50 – 5:10 = State Champs
4:20 – 4:40 = Kid Jerusalem
3:50 – 4:10 = Premiere

This is actually the third out of four dates in the U.S. this month. The first one, headlined by Set Your Goals, was on December 2nd in Oakland, CA, and the second was on December 8th in Chicago, IL, headlined by Chiodos. After tonight, the festival will close out the season with one last show this Sunday December 16th in Poughkeepsie, NY. The lineup will be very similar, with Matchbook Romance, Anadivine, A Loss For Words, Hit The Lights, With The Punches, State Champs, The Dangerous Summer, Kid Jerusalem, Young Statues, Brian Marquis, and Class Of 92.

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Download No Sleep Records Holiday Compilation

Indie label No Sleep Records have released the first of a series of compilations just in time for the holiday season. No Sleep till the Holidays contains five songs, four of which are by artists off their roster. Click here to listen now and download the compilation for free! Tracklisting is as follows:

1. Long Lost – “You Can Always Come Home” (Joe B of Transit)
2. Allison Weiss – “December”
3. TS and The Past Haunts – “I Eat You”
4. Major League – “This Holiday”
5. Young Statues – “I Don’t Wanna Know What’s Under Your Tree”

 

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Review: Colbie Caillat's 'Christmas In The Sand'

When describing Christmas in the Sand, Colbie Caillat expressed the desire to make an album for those who don’t live in cold areas and can’t relate to songs about classic wintertime clichés like snow, chilly weather, and huddling around the fireplace. While the album does maintain a generally sunny disposition, it can’t help but feature standards like “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and original lyrics in Caillat’s contributions such as “It’s not Christmas / If the snow don’t fall.” Even though Christmas in the Sand is meant to be a Christmas album for those who spend most of their time in the sun or on the beach, it still seems obligated to retread the same ground as past holiday releases.  Of course, listeners instinctively understand this, but it is worth noting how Caillat’s motivation for recording the album and the way in which that motivation plays out, at times, incongruously with the original intent, highlights the difficulty inherent in recording a type of album that in its very nature defies innovation. (more…)

INTERVIEW: Atlantic Avenue

Capping off a year that found them performing daily on Van’s Warped Tour, releasing their label debut, and traveling cross-country more than anyone could image, Atlantic Avenue recently took a break from road life to discuss their progress with OurStage. If you’re looking for a great pop rock show to help cure those Winter blue, click here and find out when they’ll be coming to a town near you!

Hey guys, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. What are you up to today?
Hey man, we’ve actually just gotten back a few days ago from a week long North East Run with Love Robot and now we’re just catching up on rest.

Let’s backtrack for a second. You spent your Summer traveling on the OurStage.com stage as part of Van’s Warped Tour. How was your experience on the world’s largest traveling festival?
This was actually our second summer on the Warped Tour, we did 17 dates total last year and this year we did the whole month of July.  Warped Tour is one of the most surreal experiences I think any of us have experienced as a band.  It was the best and worst tour all at the same time.  The days are long and hot and the drives are never ending from state to state but every day was just awesome.  You never knew what to expect every single day and its just really crazy to be on the same tour as some of the bands that we grew up listening to that inspired us.  When I was younger going to warped tour was a highlight of my summer and I never imagined I’d be spending a month on it performing.  But even though there were days where you were just too tired and hot to do anything as soon as we got home I would’ve done anything to be back on it for another month.

Fireworks Announce Holiday Tour

What could be better during the hectic rush of holiday madness, than taking a little time out to enjoy your favorite band in concert? Well, if your favorite band is Fireworks and you’re located in the mid-west or east coast, then you’re in luck!

Fireworks have just announced two mini tours, with dates in December and January. Check out the cities and dates after the jump and be sure to enter our #FreeTicketFriday contest every week for your shot at tickets to your favorite band’s concert!

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Hopeless Records Announces ‘Hopeless For The Holidays’ Compilation

˜Tis the season for holiday classics! You’ve noticed it while pushing through the crowds on Black Friday or strolling through the supermarket to pick up pies, and now we’re bringing the holidays to you via Hopeless Records’ new compilation, Hopeless For The Holidays. Featuring newcomers and long time favorites such as For The Foxes, Divided By Friday, Driver Friendly, and Anarbor, the album will contain Christmas covers and originals. Dive into the spirit by listening to For The Foxes’ contribution, All That Glistens after the jump, along with the track listing.

Track Listing:
1. For The Foxes “ The Only Thing That Glistens
2. Divided By Friday “ All I Want For Christmas Is You
3. Anarbor “ West Coast Christmas
4. Driver Friendly “ X-Mas In Texas

If you like Driver Friendly, check out OurStage artist Clear For Takeoff.

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Blink-182 Reveal Release Date For Upcoming EP

Merry Blinkmas! According to bassist Mark Hoppus, Blink-182’s first release as an independent band, following their departure from Universal Music Group, will drop on December 18. The still-untitled EP will be the first new music from the band since their 2011 full-length effort Neighborhoods, the album that brought the band back out of their extended indefinite hiatus. In addition to new music, fans will have the ability to receive “a special screened, museum-quality poster, limited-edition T-shirts and sweatshirts, wrapping paper, holiday cards” and more through a pre-order at the band’s website. The band supposedly has been enjoying an unprecedented amount of creative freedom with the absence of a major label contract. Blink’s decision to release an EP of new music, instead of a full-length, is reminiscent of Hawthorne Heights’ recent string of EPs, which the band has independently released through their own record label. Check out our interview with Hawthorne Heights to hear their thoughts on the promising future of short format releases.

Can’t wait for the new Blink EP? Check out OurStage’s own Aimless Again!

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Vanna Announce "Home For The Holidays" Tour

After almost 8 straight weeks touring around the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., Boston hardcore band Vanna will be coming home to wreak some holiday havoc on their native New England with a short “Home For The Holidays” tour. They will be performing for four dates, listed on the flyer below, with Lionheart, State Champs, and fellow locals Lions Lions, and Foreign Tongues. Sound Rink will also be offering special VIP ticket packages, which have yet to be announced. Unfortunately, the tour does not include a Massachusetts date, so local fans are just gonna have to bundle up and weather the cold if they wanna throw down for the holidays!

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