by Joseph Hess
A Very Bert Dax Christmas, Volume Nine has now officially been released. The ninth annual X-Mas compilation, a joint release by Rob Severson from Pancake Productions (subject of this week's music feature) and Matt Harnish of The Bert Dax Calvacade of Stars, features a pool of truly diverse local artists. These are cover songs and original tunes, all inspired by the wintry holiday season. Year after year, this compilation has proven to showcase an eclectic mix of St. Louis music through love for holiday jams. The compilation will get a series of four release shows, starting next Wednesday at Off Broadway.
Producer Rob Severson was kind enough to provide us with the full compilation. Over the next week, we'll preview the compilation two tracks at a time, with Severson's commentary as well as our own, expanding beyond the songs to talk about the artists involved. Today: Prune's "Homebound Holiday" and Catholic Guilt's "Silent, Night?"
"Homebound Holiday" by Prune
Rob Severson: I knew as soon as Prune agreed to be on this year's compilation that I wanted to find a way to make their track be the first, and then when I heard what they put together, I found myself entirely justified! Their airy-light pop sensibilities have never been better, and that opening chord is just so...Prune. As guitarist Bill Michalski (who doesn't appear on this recording on account of his currently residing in Massachusetts) quipped: "I'm a little jealous that they are able to sound so much like Prune without me."
Joseph Hess: Airy pop, as you put it, is the perfect way to describe Prune. I can imagine "Homebound Holiday" spinning in the background at some family gathering or other, setting that essential holiday tone. The song is an excellent entry point for this compilation, as Prune crafts a light-hearted but not too wholesome tone that leads well into the diverse pool of artists to come.
"Silent, Night?" by Catholic Guilt
Severson: One of the great things about AVBDC that always drew me to it was the sheer variety of stuff on it. The juxtaposition of Prune and Catholic Guilt, two excellent bands with two excellent bits of holiday fare exhibited here, could scarcely illustrate this any better. I'm also reminded of the inexplicably amazing version of "Silent Night" that the Conformists did for Better Than Fruitcake whenever I hear this...probably just because they're both awesomely messed-up versions of one of my favorite carols (and one that I've been performing live for many years -- see for proof -- and yes, that video was taken in April).
Hess: Where as Prune is an entry point for most listeners, Catholic Guilt might be the exit point for those not equipped to deal with the odd offerings that this compilation can offer. Percussive noise rests under a demented choir singing the classic Silent Night, while a creeping spoken word piece takes the lead. Catholic Guilt does whatever it damn well pleases, and does it well. The way "Silent, Night?" transitions into the next song might be my favorite moment on the compilation.
A Very Bert Dax Christmas, Volume Nine Release Schedule
Wednesday, December 14 at Off Broadway Bug Chaser Catholic Guilt Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship $5 | All Ages
Thursday, December 15 at El Lenador Black James The Chill Dawgs Ellen the Felon & the Mattronome $5 | 21+
Friday, December 16 at 2720 Cherokee Ded Bugs Hathead Jones Bass-Amp & Dan-O and more $10 | All Ages
Sunday, December 18 at Lemmon's Prune Navigator Dubb Nubb $5 | 18+