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Christmas Without Cancer: Great Tunes, Even Better Cause

Christmas Without Cancer

Dan Pavelich wears many hats. He’s a singer, guitarist, journalist and cartoonist. He runs the indie label, Vandalay Records. He’s previously released three sets of holiday fundraiser CDs under the Hi-Fi Christmas Party banner.

This year, Pavelich has put together a collection of original (and sometimes exclusive) power popping Christmas tunes called Christmas Without Cancer. He explained the rationale behind the collection on an Indiegogo crowdfunding page earlier this year:

Only a few months ago, we lost a cousin to cancer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time cancer has struck our family. My wife, daughter & I have also seen several friends diagnosed, though, thankfully, they received the miraculous recoveries that so many pray for every day . . .

As I have often done in the past, I have turned to my fellow musicians for help. Surely, I thought, we could raise some money, raise awareness and raise some holiday spirits, too. A holiday CD called ‘Christmas Without Cancer’ is how I hope to do this. Everyone involved has generously donated their music, looking for nothing in return, beyond being a part of the healing, answers and hope that so many families are in need of. 100% of the proceeds from the sales of the CD are going to The American Cancer Society.

I proudly contributed to the funding of the CD, and the results are superb. Several of the artists involved — The Grip Weeds, Michael Carpenter, Lisa Mychols, Brandon Schott — have been discussed many times previously on this blog.

I have yet to hear a “bad” Lisa Mychols song. Her contribution here, “In Love With Love,” is a bittersweet mid-tempo rocker about long-distance yearning during the holidays that sounds anything but maudlin thanks to Mychols’ bright and shiny vocals and the track’s chiming guitars:

Carpenter delivers a previously released track, the joyful “Wake Me Up When Its Christmas Time.” I mention it here, in part, because it features a glockenspiel, which has become almost de riguer to be mentioned on this blog of late. It also has a cool and breezy feel, perfect for listening while wrapping gifts:

The “fun” and the “breezy” is perennial on this collection, anyway. Who can possibly resist bopping to the beat of Frank Royster applying his cool vocals to the Power-Pop-meets-bachleor-pad romp, “Christmas Is Fun”?:

Pavelich, himself, checks in with his own project, The Click Beetles, on the equally joyful “So Glad Its Christmas”:

The disk also delivers a “California Christmas” and a “Kenosha Christmas.” Its penultimate track, Bill Lloyd’s acoustic “Day After Christmas,” about “cleaning up and throwing out the messes you’ve made”– you know, turkey bones, beer bottles, miscreant friends — is, at bottom, all about hope and new beginnings.

And that’s the purpose behind the disk — hope, new beginnings and, of course, healing. So go right here or here, and get fifteen stellar pop songs for a mere $12. They will fill your house with Christmas cheer while you help to fight cancer. You can’t beat that.

In the meantime, check out full versions of some of the other cool tracks in the collection:

Brandon Schott’sWinter In The Sun“.

Mimi Betinis’A Christmas Song“.

Sgt. Popgrass’If I’m Not Home For Christmas“.

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An American Underdog And Brandon Schott Leave Us Wanting Much More

The A/B EPAlways leave them wanting more.”

That venerable quote perfectly describes the “joint” EP just released by An American Underdog (basically, Andy Reed) and Brandon Schott. The four-song teaser, titled simply The A/B EP, originated online through the artists’ shared admiration of ELO, Elliott Smith and Harry Nilsson.

A virtual collaboration ensued as Reed and Schott contributed to each others’ songs from more than 2,000 miles away. Despite the technology baked into the four tracks, each song nevertheless displays all of the handmade, artisanal qualities of the analog age evident on Reed’s and Schott’s prior efforts, such as this one and this one. The A/B EP delivers four tasty morsels of pure pop goodness to savor until Reed and Schott release their next full-length products.

The digital version of the collection kicks off with Schott’s “Henry,” a joyous romp through three-and-a-half minutes of swirling keyboards, ukeleles, kazoo, glockenspiel and lots of well-placed “la la’s.” What’s not to love?:

Reed’s more wistful “The Show Goes On” follows. Its the perfect vehicle for his gorgeous vocals:

Reed’s “Good Girl” comes next. It’s the emotional center of the collection, as the tension builds steadily throughout the track to a rocking, almost operatic conclusion:

A darker, contemplative mood also marks Schott’s “Verdugo Park (Part 2),” which closes the digital collection. A lot will be written about the many influences at play on this EP, and on the full-length records both artists subsequently release. This one caused me instantly to think of The Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle, particularly (and most fittingly), “Beechwood Park”:

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The A/B EP is a stunning preview of what’s to come soon enough from Reed and Schott. You can download it for $4 or get it on vinyl for $7, right here. You certainly will want more — much, much more.

 

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