CASSIE RAMONE: CHRISTMAS IN RENO
Christmas In Reno
For her new holiday album Christmas In Reno, Cassie Ramone (of The Vivian Girls and The Babies, plays with the conflicting feelings we often feel during the Christmas season. She’s tweaking holiday standards like “Sleigh Ride” and “The Christmas Song” with her unpolished deadpan and plenty of lo-fi grime, and the album is the sonic equivalent to the melancholy and loneliness that the manufactured plastic cheer of the holidays seems to exacerbate.
A key change to the fluffy McCartney classic “Wonderful Christmastime” gives it a less-than-merry edge, while “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” is almost unrecognizable with new dissonance and garage production. Other songs like “Little Saint Nick” and “Run Run Rudolph” are presented more straight-up. They are charming with their surfy, airy guitars, and homey ease—a soundtrack for looking at lights or baking with grandma, you know, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Ramone’s take on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is the best example of the duality the album represents. Her vacant delivery is such an inversion of the sappy lyrics that it becomes humorous, poking fun at the lunacy of Christmas. You can laugh along with her or just enjoy the waves of jangly guitar and reverb that permeate nostalgic tunes like “Blue Christmas” and “Run Run Rudolph.”
Christmas In Reno is just the slightest bit off, much like the holidays themselves: all waxy cheer, forced merriment, and comforting commercialization on the surface, with a darker, melancholy and disillusioned layer brooding underneath. It’s the perfect album for anyone wanting some familiar Christmas music that doesn’t have Coca-Cola Santas and tinsel shooting out its ass.