With Thanksgiving now in the rear view mirror and calendars turned to their final page, the holiday season is officially upon us. Right beside shopping, snowfall, inevitable weight gain, and the growing tension at extended family gatherings when the name “Walker” is uttered by someone after one too many glasses of eggnog, the inescapable specter of holiday-themed music is one of the many drawbacks of “the most wonderful time of the year.”
As generally awful as Christmas carols and other winter hymns tend to be, you have to hand it to Milwaukee bands for at least trying to spice up the holiday music canon, instead of just relying on the likes of Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, and Mannheim Steamroller to provide the traditional means of seasonal torture. In recent years, Avenues wrote and recorded “Punk Rock Christmas.” Direct Hit! covered Priceduifkes’ “I Ain’t Dreaming Of A White Christmas” to raise money to offset the loss of their stolen van and gear, and Whiskeybelles dressed up seasonal standards with country-fied three-part harmonies in their Nothin’ Says Christmas Like Whiskey last year.
Adding to the lexicon of localized holiday music is none other than veteran Milwaukee ska band Something To Do, who wrote a recorded the deceivingly-named song “Happy Holidays” for a forthcoming Maximum Ink holiday compilation. Despite the presence of horns and a generally quick cadence, the song chronicles a lonely December from the perspective of a recently unemployed protagonist worried he may not make it to New Year’s Day. Say what you will about the downtrodden tone of the song, but just try to say this isn’t the best ska song about Christmas you’ve ever heard. I think we can all agree it’s a hell of a lot better than “Silver Bells.”
See Something To Do perform “Happy Holidays” and less-Christmas-themed originals Friday December 12 at The Frequency (Madison) as MAXMAS’ night one headliner. STD’s next Milwaukee show is Friday, January 16 at G-Daddy’s BBC.