Scott Miller/Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks
Scott Miller: Christmas Gift (F.A.Y.)
Easy once he thought of it, right? Appalachia-oriented American and Russian history degree holder Miller picks 'em (guitar-banjo "Ode to Joy," harmonica-piano "Holy, Holy, Holy") and picks 'em (John Prine's beloved "Christmas in Prison," Roger Miller's forgotten "Old Toy Trains"). Writes one, too‑-his very own "Yes, Virginia," about how there is a Santa Claus, and there are also lots of relatives. These are both good things as far as he's concerned. And for the duration of an EP, they are. A MINUS
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks: Crazy for Christmas (Surfdog)
Crazy because he's always been pleasantly nuts, but also because he's crazy not just as a result of but about Christmas, which as all Christmas fans know is a combination with a shot at making the holiday as full of good cheer as it's supposed to be. Scatting "Here Comes Santa Claus" as one retro strategy among many, Hicks lays out an "Old Fashioned Christmas" complete with "Bethlehem scene on the lawn/And a picture of Rudolph in the john" as the elves in "Santa's Workshop" paint millions of wooden boats and planes. Remember wood? This is a good-humored sixtysomething who wants to teach his grandkids the old-timey verities. Then he'll take a nap. B PLUS
Adele's sadness isn't what gets me. It's her thorough presentation of her folly. This is 2011's Dog Returning to its vomit, and Christopher Owens never had a chance at that title. Over and over again she speaks of moving on, but only so that her old flame can watch her do it. Then there's that triumphant centerpiece, "I'll Be Waiting," that speaks of limitless devotion, but it becomes pathetic and delusional coming two songs after "He Won't Go" establishes a relationship that needed killing.
The real question, imo, would be how on God's green earth they could have spent seven figures on Luna?
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.