Andy Cirzan Is the Ultimate Christmas Music Crate-Digger

Categories: Holiday
Andy Cirzan in his element.

As a junkie to his fix, as Santa to milk and cookies and chimneys, so is Andy Cirzan to Christmas music. The 57-year-old Chicago native has been making influential mixtapes (his 2014 mix has just been posted) for more than two decades and, for the last 15 years or so, has been making annual appearances on Chicago radio to spin holiday music that most humans never knew existed. He keeps on digging and digging and digging, and somehow he keeps managing to sift out the gems from the vast winter-wonder-wasteland.

Cirzan recently appeared in the new documentary Jingle Bell Rocks!, which traces the spiritual (really) journey of filmmaker Mitchell Kezin as he tries to make sense out of his life through holiday music. Cirzan never planned to become one of the world's foremost collectors (his archive numbers in the thousands of records) and authorities on the genre. Fortunately for those who share his love of the best of seasonal sounds, his obsession had other ideas.

More »

Even Death Row Records Has a Christmas Album

Categories: Holiday
Death Row Records
You better watch out...
If you grew up an outspoken hip-hop fan around the holidays, chances are some well-meaning Secret Santa stuffed your stocking with a little holiday compilation called Christmas on Death Row. Yes, this album exists.

Christmas on Death Row is an album that's puzzled used CD store clerks since its release in 1996. It's still baffling that the label that gave us The Chronic, Doggystyle, and nationwide gangsta rap hysteria devoted its resources to a full-length album of Yuletide tunes.

More »

The 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Metalheads

Categories: Holiday
Your best bet for a limited-edition pair of metal Vans is to check eBay.

I've received some killer heavy metal gifts in my day -- Pantera Chucks, Zeppelin vinyl, a miniature model of Dimebag Darrell's Razorback lightning bolt guitar, Jimmy Page's memoir, spike-bedecked high heels that would make a dominatrix envious, a stripper pole courted with a handle of whiskey. Oh, and a vintage typewriter. You might not think that's very metal -- but it is badass to this heavy metal journalist.

So here's a list of gifts for the shredder or thrasher in your life, whether it's your significant other, father, sister, friend... or if you just want to scare the hell out of someone. Trust me, if you want to get that annoying chick to stop calling you, nothing says "red flag" like a documentary on satanic black metal.

More »

Life of a House Band: Trailer Trash

Lynn Richter
"Other guys were looking for record deals, I was looking for a bar deal."

The holiday season is upon us once again. Sweaters, eggnog, mistletoe... and so goes the generic list of items we see every year. But then there are some special events outside of the ordinary celebration. One of those, the Trashy Little Xmas Show created by house band Trailer Trash, is dedicated to celebrating Christmas throughout the month of December until Christmas day.

On these nights inside Lee's Liquor Lounge is a crowd done up in their ugliest sweaters, flashing lights, sequins, and of course Santa hats. Imagine Uncle Eddie from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

As soon as the first Christmas song starts, the dance floor at Lee's erupts and people of all ages get into the spirit. The band's frontman, Nate Dungan, leads the charge.

More »

How Hollywood Is Ruining Movie Soundtracks to Save a Buck

Categories: Holiday

20th Century Fox
Jingle All The Way...well, ALMOST all the way.

It's hard to believe that 2014 marks 18 years since Jingle All the Way, the heartwarming tale of a father just trying to buy his son a Turboman doll on Christmas Eve, exploded across the silver screen.

With scenes shot in the Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis, as well as references to KQRS and other local touchstones, it's a great snapshot of what the city looked like in the mid-'90s. It's also considered one of the top three projects that Sinbad and Phil Hartman worked together on, as well as probably Jake Lloyd's best motion picture performance.

While it notoriously didn't receive a single mention in star Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography, we can only assume the snubbing was out of protest for how the film has been altered for its current DVD release. When you sit around the warm holiday television to watch this seasonal classic, demand the genuine article!

More »

Where to Dance on Thanksgiving Eve in the Twin Cities

Categories: Holiday
Nick Kozel
This could be you!

Here's your chance to dance your ass off before stuffing your face with turkey all day on Thursday. Chances are that you'll be seeing more of your family this weekend than you want to, so take any excuse to get outta the house when you can. And even if you're not with the fam, use this opportunity to get down with your friends before Turkey Day.

Here are the top five Thanksgiving Eve dance parties.

More »

Five Essential Insane Clown Posse "Hallowicked" Halloween Songs

Categories: Holiday
Insane Clown Posse, Halloween Enthusiasts

Insane Clown Posse | Myth | Saturday, October 25
It's the Halloween season once again. The streets are lit with carved pumpkins, department stores are stockpiled with candy, and the Insane Clown Posse are coming to town. Performing Saturday, October 25, with Da Mafia 6ix at Myth, ICP mark the 20th anniversary of their first Hallowicked celebration. For the unaware, Hallowicked is the annual Halloween show that the duo perform in Detroit, which is always accompanied by a special exclusive Halloween song. The Posse are marking this milestone by releasing a two-disc set containing all 20 years of their tracks.

For those looking to sample the tricks and/or treats, or just looking to add a few more selections of spooky sounds to their Halloween playlist, we've assembled the five essential Hallowicked songs.

More »

Holiday Traditions from Dan Wilson, Mason Jennings, and more

Categories: Holiday
Dan Wilson, Mason Jennings, Justin Pierre, Kevin Bowe
December is quickly coming to a close and local musicians are helping us give a new definition to the term, "Jingle Bell Rock." No matter if they celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or just the spirit of the season, many area artists shared their holiday traditions with me. For some, long-standing traditions come into play, for others, it's a chance to reflect on the past year and celebrate the new one.

Dozens of local musicians took the time to speak to Gimme Noise about what they are looking forward to this holiday season, including the songs that they are most grateful for.

More »

Chan Poling on the New Standards Holiday Show: I have the best job in the world

Photo by Travis Anderson
John Munson, Steve Roehm, Chan Poling
The New Standards have taken storytelling to a, well, new standard. The trio will be hosting their annual holiday show, now in its seventh year, at the State Theatre this weekend and bring the holidays a little early to the Cities. Holiday songs will be given a New Standards flavor, and the show will bring a huge cast of 30 people, including special guests that bring along dancing and joy. You can expect laughter, tears, and wonderful stories told through songs in an ode to the Minnesota winter.

Before their shows at the State, Chan Poling of the New Standards spoke with Gimme Noise about what went into the show production and what Christmas tunes didn't make the cut.

More »

Alison Scott: A Soulful Christmas is the biggest thing I've taken on

Photo by George Roedler
One of the hardest working musicians in town has decided to take over Christmas this year. Alison Scott has been planning all year for this month of seven shows that take her and her band (Kevin Bowe, Steve Price, Peter Anderson) all over the state and invite integrate the community into her concerts. The evenings will lean heavily on holiday songs and warm the heart of anyone lucky enough to be in attendance.

Alison took the time to talk to Gimme Noise about what's she's been up to since the birth of her baby girl and how she's integrated motherhood into her career, along with the many details she has taken on in planning for her holiday tour.

More »