For six years running, Bert Dax honcho Matt Harnish has curated a Christmas compilation that's served a dual purpose: spreading a little holiday cheer while providing a tip sheet for some of the city's best bands. Last year's model had a more experimental bent, but A Very Bert Dax Christmas, Vol. 6 veers more toward three-chord punk, twangy folk and a varied platter of indie rock. But while these are all technically "Christmas songs," there ain't a lot of reverence for the holiday season here — and there's nary a sleigh bell in sight. Instead, the thirteen bands represented here let the holiday spirit guide them, from the cutesy (the 75s' "Cliché Christmas Song") to the political (the Help's fabulous "All I Want for Christmas is a Billion Dollar No-Bid Contract").
The ladies in Maid*Rite offer a klezmer-inflected take on Spinal Tap's "Christmas with the Devil," promising a "silent night/violent night." Wooden Kites pick up on this theme with "A Christmas Song for Jenny," striking a balance between Pavement and Bright Eyes as Brian Potts sings a disturbing song of seasonal revenge. The Museum Mutters' "South City Girls (Like Christmas on TV)" hits Westerbergian levels of melancholy as singer (and RFT contributor) James Weber Jr. strums a twelve-string from the depths of seasonal lonesomeness. It's a great song no matter the season. 7 Shot Screamers rewrite "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with "Don't be a Bitch for Christmas," which is proof enough that the combo needs to record their own Christmas LP next season.
A Very Bert Dax Christmas Show, with Stella Mora, Tape Deck Sonata, Museum Mutters. 9 p.m. Friday, December 7. Lemmons, 5800 Gravois Avenue. 314-481-4812. A Very Bert Dax Christmas Show, with Strawfoot, Rum Drum Ramblers. 9 p.m. Friday, December 7. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $7. 314-773-3363.