The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah

Boasting one of the most consistent track listings of any of The O.C.'s compilations, The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah gathers a soundtrack to the hybrid holiday that Seth Cohen and the rest of his clan celebrate. However, not one of the album's nine songs even mentions Hanukkah, which is a little odd, since the Cohen family's Jewish roots are pretty prominent on the show. As a more or less straight Christmas collection, though, the album works well. More often than not, Christmas songs performed by rock bands just feature some sleigh bells to add some of that Yuletide spirit, but Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah actually has a fairly diverse sound, ranging from Leona Naess' earnestly pretty, mostly acoustic "Christmas" to the cheery power pop of O.C. staple Rooney's "Merry Xmas Everybody." The album also has a wide range of holiday moods, spanning the sardonic, sexy anti-Christmas sentiments of the Long Winters' "Christmas With You Is the Best" to Ben Kweller's reverent "Rock of Ages" and Jimmy Eat World's bittersweet "Last Christmas," which cross-pollinates the holidays and a breakup for maximum emo impact. Other standout tracks include the Raveonettes' "The Christmas Song" (an original, not the Mel Tormé chestnut) and Low's "Just Like Christmas," both of which add some beautifully wintry atmosphere to the set with spacious, Phil Spector-esque productions and artfully restrained use of the aforementioned sleigh bells. Ron Sexsmith's simply lovely "Maybe This Christmas" shows off his effortless way with words and melody, and closes the album on a sweet, hopeful note. Though it should have paid more than just lip service to the concept of Chrismukkah, this collection is nevertheless a strong set of indie-minded holiday music. ~ Heather Phares

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