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Renee and Jeremy - Sunny Christmas

Kids' Indie Pop Duo Wish You a Sunny Christmas!

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Renee and Jeremy - Sunny Christmas

Renee and Jeremy - Sunny Christmas

Courtesy One Melody Records
Sunny Christmas is likely to quietly burrow its way into your musical subconsciousness, as its fuzzy, intimate sound is reminiscent of many songs used on clothing commercials lately, but that's not a bad thing. Renee and Jeremy have created an EP's worth of holiday tunes, including five covers and an original, that will make a great addition to your Christmas music collection.

The Artists

Back in 1992 after Pearl Jam found unexpected megasuccess the year before with their debut album Ten, guitarist Stone Gossard took a break from the hoopla to put together a band with fellow Seattleites Jeremy Toback, Regan Hagar, and Shawn Smith. The resulting group, Brad, intermittently released several albums over the next ten years, including Shame in 1993, Interiors in 1997, Welcome to Discovery Park in 2002, Best Friends? in 2010, and United We Stand in 2012. Jeremy Toback himself has put out a few solo albums, including his self-titled CD in 1996, Perfect Flux Thing in 1997, and Another True Fiction in 1999, and is now a member of the band Chop Love Carry Fire. Singer/songwriter Renee Stahl has released two solo albums, Melancholy Pop in and Hopeful. Romantic in . Several of her compositions have been used in television shows, movies, and commercials.

The Music of 'Sunny Christmas'

Sunny Christmas kicks off with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," a very old song from England, having originated some time in the 1500s in the south west area of England. Renee and Jeremy give the song a Mediterranean feel, with lots of handclaps, finger cymbals, and layers of vocal harmonies. "Sunny Christmas" is a super duper Renee and Jeremy original, worthy of a Top 5 placement in the College Rock Charts. The cheerful, jingling powerpop title tune, first released last fall, will remind you of, perhaps, Belle and Sebastian, Jason Falkner, Mates of State, or Marshall Crenshaw.

"Deck the Halls" is another ancient carol, originating in Wales and also dating back to the 16th century. Renee and Jeremy give the song a light, bouncy treatment, emphasizing bell trees, acoustic guitars, and quiet percussion. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane back in 1943 for the Judy Garland movie Meet Me in St. Louis. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to Lady Antebellum, from The Muppets to The Partridge Family have recorded version of this classic, and Renee and Jeremy give us their atmospheric, but cheerful, version for the holidays.

The fancily named James Lord Pierpont composed what we know as "Jingle Bells" in 1850 and published the tune as "One Horse Open Sleigh" in 1857. Interestingly, he wrote the song as a Thanksgiving tune, not as a celebration of snowy Christmas horse rides. Renee and Jeremy's version sounds as if it could have been produced by a "feel" specialist like Daniel Lanois or Brian Eno, but with way more cheer. The same goes for "Winter Wonderland," as echoey electric guitar and distant sleigh bells accompany Renee and Jeremy's almost whispered vocals. The duo's rendition of Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith's 1934 classic is a perfect way to close out the Sunny Christmas EP.

The Verdict

If Christmas music lovers opened their wallets every time an indie band or artist (and especially mainstream singers or groups) put out a holiday album, they would be broke and hurting for space on their record shelves. Luckily for Yuletide fans, a few bands are much more successful at interpreting oft-heard tunes in their own distinct style. This means two things: bands win over new fans, and listeners are given a fresh interpretation of familiar songs without straying too far from familiarity. Renee and Jeremy's Sunny Christmas is a perfect example of this new wave of IndieChristmas music, giving new life to old favorites and treating us to a great self-penned composition, as well. Our only question is, where is "Little Drummer Boy," released as a single in November 2010? Renee and Jeremy's cute, acoustic rendition would have made a good addition to this collection. Having said that, though, Sunny Christmas will make a great addition to our list of New Christmas Music for Kids, and a nice little stocking stuffer for music fans of any age. And don't forget to check out the cute album art by Hsinping Pan!

Released November 13, 2012; One Melody Records

Track Listing

  1. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
  2. "Sunny Christmas"
  3. "Deck the Halls"
  4. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
  5. "Jingle Bells"
  6. "Winter Wonderland"
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