Jason: Hey Jeff?
Jeff: Yes, Jason?
Jason: I have a question.
Jeff: The answer is “Because we can.”
Jason: Fantastic. See you tomorrow!
Jeff: Hold on. Let me hear the question.
Jason: What’s the story with the Polyphonic Spree?
Jeff: Oh God, those guys? I have no idea.
Jason: I really don’t know anything about them. I think I saw them on Austin City Limits once, but I don’t remember much. All I know is that when I think of them, I think of David Koresh.
Jeff: I’ve never understood how they’ve managed to stay a thing, or what made them a thing in the first place.
Jason: Are they a cult? Are they Charles Manson-y?
Jeff: I think they might be. I wish they were a more overtly melodic cult, though, don’t you? They’ve always seemed like a bargain-bin version of the Flaming Lips to me.
Jason: If I carry this conversation further, are they going to try and indoctrinate my child to their…thing? Whatever it is that they are? God, I’m so old.
I just saw that they released a Christmas album, and I didn’t know if there was anything on there worth covering this year.
Jeff: Oh, of course there is. You know what happens when hipster acts release holiday music! Remember Regina Spektor? Or that one guy who recorded that slowed-down folk version of…what was it, “Last Christmas”?
Jason: DO NOT MENTION REGINA SPEKTOR AGAIN. DO NOT MENTION “LAST CHRISTMAS” AGAIN.
Jeff: I promise not to mention “Last Christmas” again. (Today.)
Jason: I’m just going to pretend the last few sentences never happened.
Jeff: So I take it you listened to the Polyphonic Spree’s Christmas album. Just knowing this makes me happy.
Jason: I actually didn’t, but I figured what the hell? Let’s try a track at random. Maybe I’ve been missing something all these years. Maybe they’re great!
Jeff: I assure you that you haven’t and they aren’t, but what the hell. Which song, old pal?
Jason: Maybe they’ll fill the void in my soul that has been caused by seven consecutive years of Mellowmas. Ummm…I don’t know. Let’s see…how about “White Christmas”? I like Christmas songs written by Jews.
Jeff: Aren’t all the good Christmas songs written by Jews?
Jason: I wouldn’t know. I haven’t listened to a good Christmas song in seven years.
Jeff: Good point. Okay, “White Christmas.” This seems like a pretty foolproof song.
Jason: Right? That’s what I was thinking, too.
Jeff: I mean, hey, here’s a guy who has a dream. It’s white. It involves Christmas.
Jason: There are sleighbells. In the snow. Which doesn’t seem helpful in terms of them making actual noise, but whatever.
Jeff: So many of the basic holiday music ingredients! I’m eager to hear how exactly the Polyphonic Spree managed to fuck them up.
Jason: Have faith, Jeff. They might surprise us, and I could use a pick-me-up.
The Polyphonic Spree, “White Christmas” (download)
Jason: FUCK. I was wrong.
Jeff: My son let out a loud, piercing scream just as this song started, and for a moment, I thought it was part of the music.
Jason: Hey, it’s almost-harmony!
Jeff: No it isn’t. Don’t lie to people.
Jeff: This is un-harmony.
Jason: I feel bad. This is probably this kid’s daughter. Or the kid that got sucked into the cult. Ha! The kid gave up and went unison for a second!
Jeff: I’d be willing to bet that it’s actually the singer at a higher speed.
Jason: My cat just jumped out the window.
Jeff: I wish I was your cat.
Jason: My wife just followed the cat.
Jeff: Oh my God, that was awful. And not awful in a fun Mellowmas way, either.
Jason: Wow, and it’s over already. Oooh, studio chatter!
Jeff: Better than music! I wish the studio chatter had started about 1:30 earlier!
Jason: “The boss said ‘great, you’re done.’”
Jason: I think “you’re done” is absolutely accurate.
Jeff: I do too, but I bet there are plenty of people who loved this record. What’s it called — Holidaydream? Yup, I was right. Five stars is the average Amazon rating.
Jason: What do they say about “White Christmas”? Wait, here’s a review: “True to the album’s title, Holidaydream honors the spirit of such Christmas classics like ‘Silver Bells,’ ‘Silent Night,’ and ‘White Christmas,’ heightening the sense of wonderment with heavy doses of strings, woodwinds, and lush choral arrangements.”
Jeff: That is false.
Jason: This guy totally didn’t listen to the album!
Jeff: This “White Christmas” contains zero Christmas spirit. The Christmas spirit has been replaced by absinthe and beard hair.
Jason: “The band is also careful not to let its bone-bred eclecticism overrun things.” HE DIDN’T LISTEN TO THE ALBUM.
Jeff: Here’s one accidentally revealing five-star review comment: “Makes me want to put on a white robe and dance through fields of daises, or pine trees.”
Jeff: Also: “Love these guys! they are so cool and ‘redo’ these tunes soooo very well ,They Rock! Thank you & blessings!!”
Jason: “Or razor blades.”
Jeff: Well, I have to say, that pretty much lived down to all of my worst expectations. If you had asked me to imagine a Polyphonic Spree Christmas song, that’s exactly what it would have sounded like.
Jason: At least it was short, right?
Jeff: Yes. At least it was short.
Jason: Assuming this is someone’s child, this is something you send to family members. Not to a record label. Even if it’s your own record label.
Jeff: Also, it contained a sensible amount of bone-bred eclecticism, I guess?
Jason: Yeah, but how do you explain “honors the spirit of such Christmas classics”? Because this doesn’t honor the spirit of anybody or anything.
Jeff: You know, I think if you go around wearing sandals and a robe all the time, people tend to accept all of your explanations for anything, no matter how lame they are.
Jason: Okay, so I’ll wear a robe and sandals to work tomorrow. Done. Let’s see how THAT goes.
Jeff: I just realized that the full title of this album is Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays Vol. One.
Jason: OH GOD.
Jeff: VOL. ONE JASON
Jason: See you next year, I guess!