We've already listed our holiday CD picks and some great Christmas-themed shows, but here's some more for the last days before the big day:
Whatever happened to holiday variety shows? Remember the Johnny Cash specials in the late '70s? They retreated to the cool bars. Scott Lucas & the Married Men, the rootsy side project from the Local H singer-guitarist, will present "The Hideout Holiday Music Hour" at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabanasia ($8). It's Lucas' own homage to "A Prairie Home Companion."
"At first we were only going to do a couple of Christmas songs, but we got carried away," Lucas said in an announcement. "We wanted to fashion a show after old-time Christmas radio specials -- like "A Prairie Home Companion," but also with an almost Opry-type of vibe. And the Hideout is perfect for that."
Can't make it. Tune into the Married Men site while opening gifts on Dec. 25 for a broadcast of the show.
We rounded up a tepid bunch of new Christmas albums earlier, but the real action seems to be giveaway downloads of Christmas songs, from Beach House (Pitchfork has a new holiday song!) and Coldplay to DJ Jazzy Jeff's contribution (wha?!) and none other than a special Christmas gift from Kanye West. His new track, "Christmas in Harlem," can be downloaded here. Have a listen ...
Xmas xtra: XO, a PR group for indie rock bands, puts together a great free Christmas comp each year. Dig the sweet cheer of the Piney Gir tracks, the irresistibly catchy track from the Winter Sounds, plus a cameo from Billy Bob Thornton.
The best new Christmas album of 2010 crept up on me. The Boy Least Likely To is a British indie-pop duo, surely named after the Morrissey song; they've been together about 10 years making the kind of breezy soft-voiced pop that's landed them a couple of Apple commercials. After last year's "Law of the Playground," only their second album, they turned to the holidays and this year delivered "Christmas Special," a spot-on set of nearly all original holiday songs.
One of them is "George and Andrew," a dreamy tale about a holiday reunion between the founders of Wham! -- authors of what's become a Christmas classic in recent years, the song "Last Christmas." Here's the video ...
The album's on iTunes and here. Free downloads of other songs: the great Christmas breakup tune "Blue Spruce Needles" and "Christmas Isn't Christmas."