There are some Christmas traditions we can do without—like drunk Uncle Eddie going on a nog-fueled tirade about something he saw on Fox News or being stuck having to buy presents for 20 step-cousins you know absolutely nothing about.
But instead of grinching over those parts, let’s look forward to the good stuff…like when Uncle Eddie finally passes out and you can enjoy some peace and goddamn quiet. One of the more fun traditions I look forward to each year in Oklahoma is listening to the new Fowler VW* Christmas album.
This special collaboration, produced by Fowler VW and recorded by local musicians at Blackwatch Studios in Norman, is on its 8th annual volume. And it’s free. You can look for a copy of The Sounds of the Season: A Blackwatch Christmas, Volume 8 on vinyl at Guestroom Records or download the whole collection here on Bandcamp.
I’m curious if it was intentional or not, but this year’s album has a funky, synth-driven sound all throughout. ‘Twas not an easy task, but I’ve narrowed the list to my five favorite tracks from The Sounds of the Season. Cozy up with a hot toddy, and join me for a listen:
1. Sports — Christmas in Hollywood: The A-side kicks out the jams right out of the gate. Christmas In Hollywood has a sultry funk, complete with wah-wahd out guitars that would be make any vintage porno movie seem complete.
2. Chair Model — Filthy Animal: Chair Model’s inclusion is one of my favorites! Filthy Animal has a bit of a 1980s We Are the World cheese, complete with Cocteau Twins-esque tubular bells. But best of all, it’s about the greatest Christmas movie of the 90s, Home Alone.
3. Swim Fan — Sasha Don’t Take My Toys Away: Swim Fan keeps the funk going with Sasha Don’t Take My Toys Away but brings in some smooth sexiness that the holidays are sorely lacking. Also, it sounds like they drank an entire bottle of cough syrup, first. The vocals are pitched down; the tempo drops pleasingly. I don’t know if it’s easy to get this freaky while knee deep in purple lean, but it sure makes you wanna try.
4. Spaceface f/t LABRYS — Single Star: Things get more organic on Single Star from Spaceface featuring LABRYS. The track is warm, sparse and soulful, like falling asleep next to the fireplace while wearing a Snuggie.
5. James McAlister — In Dulci Jubilo: Finally, James McAlister closes the album out with sweeping shoegaze. In Dulci Jublio is stark, almost cinematic, and—if the edible you took earlier to cope with your family is kicking in—this song is sure to make your eyes glaze over a little extra.
The Sounds of the Season is a very interesting addition to Fowler VW and Blackwatch Studio’s Christmas series. Compilations can tend to be messy affairs, with bands lumped together even if they have nothing in common. Obviously, the subject matter and geographical location of all these artists tie them together, but it has a feel that seems very intentional—like an actual album that flows together. The individuality of each artist comes out, but the end product is something that deserves to be listened to, front-to-back.
Make sure to visit one of the Guestroom Records locations to get your free, limited vinyl copy, or stream it up soon to get yourself fully immersed in the sexiest Christmas album to date.
Fowler VW is a longtime TLO supporter and we love them for it. Buy a car from them.