Oh Blue Christmas
|Oh Blue Christmas|
|EP by A Fine Frenzy|
|Released||November 3, 2009|
|Recorded||Dave's Room, Los Angeles|
|Producer||David Bianco, Alison Sudol|
|A Fine Frenzy chronology|
Oh Blue Christmas is an EP by the American band A Fine Frenzy, released in November 2009 in the United States through Virgin Records. It was initially released exclusively through Target just two months following the group's previous studio album Bomb in a Birdcage. The EP contains cover versions of three popular holiday songs ("Blue Christmas", "Winter Wonderland" and "Christmas Time Is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas) as well as three original tracks. According to Alison Sudol, A Fine Frenzy's leader, the collection of songs was recorded in five days at record producer David Bianco's studio in Los Angeles.
The EP, and "Christmas Time Is Here" in particular, received positive critical reception overall. In the United States, Oh Blue Christmas peaked at number 87 on the Billboard 200, number three on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart and number 28 on the Top Rock Albums chart. A Fine Frenzy was touring throughout the United States around the time Bomb in a Birdcage and Oh Blue Christmas were released.
With a total length at approximately 22 minutes, Oh Blue Christmas contains renditions of three popular holiday songs: "Blue Christmas" (Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson), "Winter Wonderland" (Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith) and Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson's "Christmas Time is Here". The latter originally appeared on the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas and the soundtrack of the same name. Also included are three original tracks, "Redribbon Foxes", "Winter White" and "Wish You Well". Of "Redribbon Foxes", Sudol stated:
"... when I was writing it, I was in a cabin covered with snow and it was very quiet outside. This was all in my head, of course. Down a hill there's a little town, all lit up, carolers singing. It's a little bit sad, although it's very beautiful. There's a little fox creeping through the snow, a fox that's very hard to catch."
Sudol stated that "Winter White" was the "first genuinely heart-achy song" she had ever written and revealed that "Wish You Well" is about a family member. According to Sudol, the group "expand[ed] its sound" by incorporating horns, mandolins and pedal steel guitars. The EP was recorded in five days at record producer David Bianco's studio (Dave's Room) in Los Angeles. She said of the recording process:
"We all holed up in (producer) David Bianco's lovely studio, which was built in the '70s and hasn't changed much since then—and though it was the sticky, hot LA summer outside, inside, it was snowy, delightful Christmastime." "We... [recorded] everything together around an invisible campfire; everyone picking up different instruments and playing them on a moment's notice. There was definitely some holiday magic in the air that week."
Cory Frye of the Albany Democrat-Herald described Sudol's overall performance "sultry" and called "Redribbon Foxes" a standout original track. In his review for Allmusic, Andrew Leahey wrote that the cover songs are "perfectly pleasant", but insisted that Sudol's original songs were the highlight of the collection. Leahey complimented Sudol's "lilting, whimsical" performance and mentioned that songs like "Redribbon Foxes" have a broader appeal. Brian Moore of RedEye, a daily publication put out by the Chicago Tribune, thought the EP contained both traditional and indie qualities and described Sudol's voice as "smooth, velvety and well-suited for holiday music". OffBeat's Alex Rawls thought the EP was more "wintry" than "Christmas-y", more melancholic than celebratory, and only "Wish You Well" evoked a warm, joyous tone. One reviewer for Skope Magazine described the collection as "whimsical".
"Christmas Time Is Here" in particular received positive critical reception. Moore and Rawls both considered the song to be the best track on the EP. Rawls called it the collection's "finest moment", having "evocative sounds that swell and recede". Frye described the track as "bone-chilling"; Brandon Ferguson of OC Weekly called it "nostalgia-inducing".
|1.||"Blue Christmas"||Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson||3:20|
|2.||"Winter Wonderland"||Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith||3:43|
|3.||"Redribbon Foxes"||Alison Sudol||5:01|
|5.||"Wish You Well"||Sudol||3:53|
|6.||"Christmas Time is Here"||Vince Guaraldi, Lee Mendelson||2:57|
Track listing adapted from Allmusic.
- Felix Bernard – composer
- David Bianco – engineer, mixing, producer
- C.J. Camerieri – backing vocals, cornet, French horn, handclapping, trumpet
- Omar Cowan – acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, bass, electric bass, guitar, handclapping, mandolin
- Cole Gerst – design, illustrations
- Vince Guaraldi – composer
- Billy Hayes – composer
- Ted Jensen – mastering
- Jay W. Johnson – composer
- Stephen LeBlanc – backing vocals, chimes, Hammond B3, handclapping, harmonium, piano, Wurlitzer
- Ryan Lerman – acoustic guitar, backing vocals, double bass, electric guitar, handclapping
- Lee Mendelson – composer
- Joshua Sarubin – A&R
- Jesse Siebenberg – backing vocals, drums, electric guitar, handclapping, percussion
- Richard B. Smith – composer
- Alison Sudol – composer, handclapping, piano, producer, vocals
Credits adapted from Allmusic.
Oh Blue Christmas managed to chart in the United States, peaking at number 87 on the Billboard 200, number three on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart and number 28 on the Top Rock Albums chart.
|U.S. Billboard 200||87|
|Top Holiday Albums||3|
|Top Rock Albums||28|
- Franks, Allison (October 23, 2009). "A Fine Frenzy celebrates the season with Oh Blue Christmas". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- "A Fine Frenzy to Release 'Oh Blue Christmas' EP". Skope Magazine (Boston, Massachusetts: Skope Entertainment Inc.). October 22, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- "Oh Blue Christmas". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
- Frye, Cory (December 19, 2009). "Rockin' around the Christmas tree". Albany Democrat-Herald (Albany, Oregon: Lee Enterprises). Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- "A Fine Frenzy: Bio". Virgin Records. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- "A Fine Frenzy to Release 'Oh Blue Christmas' November 3rd!". Ragged. October 19, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2012. Note: Ragged is published by Filter magazine and "powered" by American Rag clothing.
- Laban, Linda (October 28, 2009). "A Fine Frenzy's Christmas EP Mixes Cheer and Heartache". Spinner. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
- "Welcome to Dave's Room". Dave's Room. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- "David Bianco". McDonough Management LLC. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- Moore, Brian (November 13, 2009). "Things that turn us on". RedEye (Chicago, Illinois: Tribune Company). Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- Rawls, Alex (November 30, 2009). "A Fine Frenzy: Oh Blue Christmas". OffBeat (New Orleans, Louisiana: OffBeat, Inc.). ISSN 1090-0810. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- Ferguson, Brandon (November 12, 2009). "A Fine Frenzy: House of Blues". OC Weekly (Costa Mesa, California: Village Voice Media). Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- "Oh Blue Christmas: Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
- A Fine Frenzy's official site
- "L.A. Grapevine, October 2008" by Bud Scoppa (Mix magazine, 2008) – David Bianco, Dave's Room