Canned Hamm and Friends – Sincerely Christmas CD (Pro-Am)

And when they say friends, they don't just mean the same old reindeer and elves—the first guest is the somewhat unnerving Sssssssalty The Rattlesnake. Big and Lil Hamm promise to put the "X back in Xmas" and don't disappoint, sending all their love straight out to their audience of miserable shut ins with the sultry disco stylings of "Sexy Elf" and "Secret Santa." The ultrashrill Hamster Hamm drops by with a harangue about the mess the Hamms have made unwrapping their gifts, but he's barely annoying compared to stand up comic Neil Hamburger, who tries to cadge a place to sleep by comparing himself to the baby Jesus before agreeing to sing the cranky instant classic, "Office Christmas Party." The boys explore such high holiday concepts as the sin of gluttony, making snow angels, getting high on egg nog and meditating with the sugar plum fairies, and before they're finished, Lil Baby Jesus raps his way out of his diaper and Ivan Hrvatska turns in an entry in the happily miniscule genre of Christmas seduction songs. The Hamms even revamp their hit "Father and Son" into a holiday selection. Don't hit eject just yet: there's an almost special message from Santa himself for all good little boys and girls. If you must buy just one Canadian-made Christmas album by mustachioed men this year, make it Sincerely Christmas!

Record Review: Roger Rodier “Upon Velveatur” CD (Sunbeam)

Medium Image Rodier was a Montréal-based, Anglophone singer-songwriter whose twee yet slightly sinister style pulls the listener down into a rabbit hole of unexpected pop arrangements, into one of the most bipolar albums every made. This fragmented format is definitely not for everyone, but both styles are so well realized that it’s well worth the risk. Starting off hushed and whispery, the 1972 LP soon turns tough and anxious with the choir-backed anthem of betrayal “Am I Supposed to Let It By Again?” before slipping back into seductive intimacy in adoration of (shades of Jeff Mangum) Jesus Christ, and the heavy guitars and anguished, giddy shrieks of “While My Castle’s Burning.” Five strong bonus tracks flesh out Rodier’s versatility, which includes bubblegummy sunshine pop and sweetly spooky pop tunes in French. A very striking rediscovery, really excellent stuff.