My dear friends in The LeBarons recorded a Christmas EP, and asked me to write the liner notes. I think I've found my true calling. Quoted in full:
Twenty years ago, when Mariah Carey sang “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, we couldn’t help but believe her. With Bill Clinton’s presidency mired in allegations of sexual misconduct, a health care reform bill dead on the Congress floor, Kurt Cobain dead on another floor in Seattle, genocide in Rwanda, and the TV airwaves promising us it’d be awhile before we stopped hearing O.J. Simpson’s name, Mariah’s invitation to join her under the mistletoe was about all that could keep us from drowning ourselves in a North Pole-sized bucket of long-expired eggnog. A lot has changed in the past two decades -- some of it good, some of it not so good. But no matter how hard times might be, how many loves lost, how empty our proverbial stockings, The LeBarons are here to wake us up from our collective hangover and remind us that there’s still an ounce of cheer in that glass. Drink up, amigos. It’s Christmastime.
It should come as no surprise that The LeBarons have decided -- two millennia and some change after a certain baby was born to a certain virgin in a certain barn -- to serve us up a special Yuletide elixir: the story of The LeBarons, like the story of Christmas, begins in the desert. Not in Nazareth, but in Bakersfield, CA -- this time, though, there’s only two wise men. Raised on The Beatles and Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, D Frank and Nate Berg know that rock and roll ain’t really American if it ain’t a little British too. It’s this sort of dialectic that made their debut LP, Sounds From The Parallel Present, such an insightful commentary on the city of Los Angeles (and a seminal entry in its pop music canon): gritty and glitzy, sunny and noir. With clever songwriting, Liverpudlian guitars, and vocal harmonies as likely as anything to get Brian Wilson on the phone with his lawyer, The LeBarons resurfaced the centrality of Southern California in American musical history. And here, they do it again -- with sleigh bells.
The title track is full of the ambivalent resignation we all feel during the holiday season -- the saxophone is just melancholy enough to make us feel human, and want to keep being human. In “What Child Is This?” Berg/Frank update an old classic, presenting us with a baby Jesus in dark Ray-Bans who knows what’s hip (and what’s not). I once knew “Hang the Lights” as “Mouse in the Meadow” when I played Fender Rhodes for Berg’s short-lived mid-2000s group, The Lawrences of Arabia. It was an autumn song then; winter suits it much better. “Hey, Mr. Santa!” Frank growls in the album’s closer, “I only want a girl to hold me tight”. Twenty years ago, that girl could have been Mariah. Now, it could be you. So gather the family, crank up the Victrola, and let Oh, It Must Be Christmastime! pull those frosty heartstrings. It might be the only peace on earth you get this year.
You can listen to the album here.