Archive for the ‘Loreena McKennitt’ Category


This is one of my favorite Christmas discs.  There’s not a lot of traditional Christmas music on it, but the originals are all either spot-on Christmas songs or at least work nicely for this time of year.  The only song that doesn’t fit is Ben Folds’ which is funny and vulgar.  It is not safe for Christmas and should be skipped in a family setting and saved for the drunken debauchery part of the night.

PHANTOM PLANET-“Winter Wonderland” Back in 2010, Phantom Planet was a kind of buzzy, talked about band (you’ll have to look up why).  But this is a great version of the song, I especially love that it’s kind of rocky and slightly dissonant but still really pretty.

RON SEXSMITH-Maybe This Christmas.
It’s a shame that this series of records is named after this song, which is so forgettable.  I usually like Sexsmith’s stuff, but I can’t keep this song in my head at all.

COLDPLAY-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Unlike Phantom Planet which was all buzzy when this was recorded, Coldplay had yet to take off and had a small hit with “Yellow.”  It’s interesting to hear this spare version (just Chris Martin singing and playing piano) and how he modifies the words in small ways.

VANESSA CARLTON-“Greensleeves”  This is a lovely version of this song, even if Carlton’s voice is a bit affected (and its technically not a Christmas song in this lyrical version).

BRIGHT EYES-Blue Christmas
This is a nice version of this song, mellow and catchy.

SENSE FIELD-“Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” The more I listen to this song, the more I think it’s really weird.  “The yellow and red ones” (?).

JIMMY EAT WORLD-“12/23/95”
This is a very catchy Jimmy Eat World song (once again, before they got huge for a time).  It’s hard to realize its Christmas-related until late in the song when they mention the holiday.

I love this version of “Rudolph” so much because Johnson tacks on an ending where the other reindeer feel bad of making fun of Rudolph.  And Johnson’s vibe is just always so mellow and chill.

This recording is quite old–from 1996.  The artists work very well together and Sarah’s voice sounds great.

BEN FOLDS-“Bizarre Christmas Incident” [NSFC]
Ben played all of the parts himself on this song.  I love Ben and I love when he is funny and vulgar.  But this song which is very vulgar and mildly funny is so out of place on this disc.  You can’t play this for the kids, whereas everything else is totally fine. I might like it on a vulgar CD collection bu I dislike it a lot here.

DAN WILSON-“What a Year for a New Year”
Dan Wilson always writes pretty, catchy songs.  This is a lovely song that seems (possibly) even more appropriate in 2017 than it did in 2002 when he wrote it.

NEIL FINN-“Sweet Secret Peace”
This is a very pretty, delicate song with a wonderful chorus.  It’s not necessarily a Christmas song, but it works at this time of year.

McKennit’s voice is amazing, and this song is hauntingly beautiful.  It’s a stark and lovely ending to this disc.

[READ: December 14, 2017] “Lady with Invisible Dog”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This story was pretty bizarre and really wonderful.

There’s so much going on.  And much of it is pretty weird.  The story is set in 1995.  The narrator, Edwin, has had a run-in with a man called “The Narrator.”  And that has set all of the action of the story in motion. (more…)

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stilllife SOUNDTRACK: LOREENA McKENNITT-A Winter Garden (1995).

mckenneitLoreena McKennitt has a beautiful voice.  This EP is a beautiful holiday selection (not really Christmas exactly, so that’s fine).  There’s five songs, one of them is from one of her albums as well.

“Coventry Carol” has an excellent full sound–McKennitt’s beautiful voice fits this olde song quite nicely.  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” opens with Indian sounding drums and a cool fretless bass.  When the fiddles come in it retains a vaguely middle Eastern sound.  It’s a bit long, but very cool.

“Good King Wenceslas” has flutes and cello and nice percussion.  It’s a lovely version.  “Snow” opens with a pretty flute (that has since been co-opted by Titanic).  It’s a pleasant song if bordering on a wee bit too much.  “Seeds of Love” is a pretty song, but it doesn’t feel very seasonal to me.

Overall this is a nice winter record.  It’s not so much Christmasey as pagan.  It’s very pretty and the traditional instruments sound great.  The fact that it’s only 22 minutes is also nice.

[READ: December 19, 2014] Tune: Still Life

So I didn’t spoil the first book, but I can now safely reveal that Andy Go has signed up to be a human living in an alien zoo. He gets $250,000 for his year of service and he gets to go home for the weekends.  Not bad.  He is bummed that he didn’t get to tell Yumi that he loved her, but he can always go tell her this weekend, right?

In the meantime, he gets to enjoy that everything has been perfectly re-created to his specifications.  In fact, the aliens downloaded his memory and replicated everything exactly as he remembered it–his favorite foods, his favorite TV shows, even the magazines under his bed (wow).  Now he just has to learn to pee in front of gawkers and it will be the best job ever.

It even turns out that his bosses are nice.  Well, the one boss is.  She is young (and, yes, sexy even is she has no facial features) and pleasant to him.  She is also amazed by his art.  Sadly, her father is a mean ballbuster.  He hates his art.  In fact, he hates all art.  Their version of reality has done away with art and has ensured that no one has any creativity of any kind.  They even have news feeds piped into their heads 24 hours a day (or however long their day lasts).

Andy also learns that he has a neighbor–Mo.  He and Mo communicate through the air vents.  Mo is an amusing, teasing guy who gives Andy a hard time.  He also tells Andy two things that change Andy’s perception of his job.  The first is that they will send him a female eventually and the second is that the contract he signed stipulates that he will be in the zoo for life, not for a year.  Thud. (more…)

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