welcome folks! this week we’re doing a quick overview of Christmas Caravan, Squirrel Nut Zipper’s 1998 record, before checking out their last record before their first breakup in 2000, Bedlam Ballroom.

Winter Weather is an older Christmas track i’m unfamiliar with. Indian Giver, as the name implies, uses an old turn of phrase that’s quite disrespectful. not about it! A Johnny Ace Christmas is fine. My Evergreen has Jimbo Mathus on a mellower track – not bad but def not my fave. okay Sleigh Ride is definitely a bright spot at this point of the record, haha. I’m Coming Home for Christmas is fine. half threw me off, expecting it to be I’ll Be Home For Christmas, haha. Carolina Christmas is a little closer to what i would be expecting from a record like this. Gift of the Magi has a bit of a folkier twang to it. it’s fine. Hot Christmas is a bit of a large change in tone after that, but again a bit more of what i would want out of this record. Hanging Up My Stockings doesn’t do much for me. it’s also fine. does close the loop well on the record though, good closer.

faves –
dislikes – Indian Giver

y’all like i said last week – i’m a bit of a pessimist when it comes to Christmas records, and i feel like they gotta cross a pretty high bar to justify existing, so i’m coming into this with a bit of a bias. and honestly this one doesn’t clear that bar. some very pleasant tracks here but it’s not a funny take on Christmas, as i would expect from their humor and style on previous records, and it’s not a swing take on Christmas classics (except Sleigh Ride, which is a pretty good rendition), both of which i think i would’ve enjoyed a lot more. not a huge fan of this one.

Christmas Caravan – 2/10

Bedbugs is a very strong opening track – it’s dark, and creeping, and just overall a very fun track. Baby Wants a Diamond Ring is a nice little upbeat track – i really dig this paring of Katherine Whalen’s vocals and the more energetic track. Do What? is a track that i feel like it could grow on me. it’s really funky! very cool song. Bent Out of Shape returns Whalen to a more somber, quiet track. very pleasant. Stop Drop and Roll has a very funny sense of humor to it, haha. Hush has Whalen on like, a lullaby? it’s fine. It All Depends is a mellow romantic track. i fully forgot that Bedlam Ballroom debuted on Sold Out until i was reviewing my notes – still slaps here too. Just This Side of Blue is a jazzier track and yo this one works for me. big fan. Don’t Fix It is another funny track, haha. i like the longer, show bandy intro to the song. Missing Link is another instrumental track, and it’s aight. got quite a bit of charm but not my fave. the Bedlam Reprise is an interesting little transitional track. i really really like Do It This Way as the closer here – really ends the album on a high note.

faves – Bedbugs, Bedlam Ballroom, Just This Side of Blue, Do It This Way
dislikes –

back to mostly alternating vocalists on this one! i def don’t dislike it and it’s a good way to avoid “halving” your record, like i mentioned on their first record, but DANG it it rough when almost all of Whalen’s songs are slower, almost ballads, and basically all of Jimbo Mathus’s tracks are far more upbeat and catchy. creates a bit of a whiplash when it goes back and forth and back. i feel like it is mitigated a bit here – Whalen’s first track is also a more energetic track, and then it’s not so back and forth as the approach the midpoint of the record, but still.

on the whole though, still a very fun record! they’ve still got a sense of fun and sincerity running through the whole record, and the music is catchy and funny or contemplative and touching. not a ton like, jumped out and kept with me, but a very nice listen.

Bedlam Ballroom – 6/10

next week, we’ll be checking out the first of their post-breakup (well, double breakup, as the band got back together shortly in 2007 and broke up again before reuniting for Hell’s 20th anniversary) offerings, Beasts of Burgundy.

first: The Inevitable Squirrel Nut Zippers | previous: Perennial Favorites | next: Beasts of Burgundy

all my reviews for Squirrel Nut Zippers

have a suggestion for a discography for me to review? let me know!