Various - A Santa Cause: It's A Punk Rock Christmas (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


A Santa Cause: It's A Punk Rock Christmas (2003)


I actually feel guilty for having to take a critical look at this record. The selection of bands is heavily stacked with popular new school pop-punk and emo (or whatever it's called), so this is bound to sell well. Since a portion of the proceeds is going to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation this is great news. Despite my opinion of the bands on here, I can't argue with a well-intentioned donation to a children's charity.

Unfortunately the music on A Santa Cause isn't going get the same accolades as the cause.

Too many of the bands here forget that the album is subtitled "It's A Punk Rock Christmas" and turn in some of the tamest, neutered tracks of their careers. Given the theme of the record I'm not exactly expecting furious hardcore, but I did hope that the band's churn out some fun, rocking renditions of the songs they've chosen. Yet the recordings by Acceptance, Fall Out Boy, The Beautiful Mistake, Jason Gleason (of Further Seems Forever) and (to a lesser extent) Gatsby's American Dream give no indication that these bands have day-jobs as rock musicians. With the exception of the vocalists these covers aren't very different from the typical version of the songs you hear every year.

On top of that we have the punk Christmas cover clichés. These include but are not limited too the use of jingle bells or playing the hook from a popular Christmas song as a bridge in your own. It's cute once. That's it.

Some of the better-known pop-punk acts here only contribute previously released material, which may disappoint completists looking for something new. This is the case with Something Corporate, New Found Glory and Blink 182, whose song "I Won't Be Home For Chrismas" seems especially tame in light of the band's current direction. From First To Last's "X12 Days Or XXXMasX" is a horribly failed attempt at humour by throwing screamo clichés into normally happy holiday song. At least I hope it's an attempt at humour, because it's nothing you'll listen to a second time.

There is good here though. Buzz band The Matches contribute "December Is For Cynics," which is quite catchy with a memorable sing-along chorus. The band sounds a bit more powerful here then on other recordings I've heard. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones contribution "This Time Of Year" is an original song. The heavily Ramones influenced track is enjoyable and a welcome break from the pace of the album. I've grown to appreciate The A.K.A's and their cover of Run DMC's "Christmas In Hollis" is really amusing (if not a bit surprising at first). It's an irreverent song, but that makes it fun. The same can be said for MXPX's "Christmas Night of Zombies."

This is a record supporting a great cause, but unfortunately I can't review it on good intentions alone. With the exception of a few tracks A Santa Cause is made up of either previously released material and painfully uninteresting (and at times sappy) renditions of holiday classics.