It’s one of the dirty little secrets of holiday albums, and Alison Scott couldn’t keep it under wraps.
“I think it was about 90 degrees the first day we went to work in the studio,” the piano-plunking Twin Cities soul-pop songstress admitted of her new album, “A Soulful Christmas.”
With several months leeway required for production and manufacturing, Scott and her band did what most artists do with their holiday records: They started working on it over the summer, a few months after Scott became a mom. The first song they tackled, in fact, was the last one on the record, “Oh Holy Night,” the most sacred and December-y track on the album. As Scott said, “We dove right in.”
“In the end, we just joked it off, and I think that just added to the fun of making the record,” Scott said of the seasonal disorder.
“Holy Night” aside, Scott’s holiday CD is indeed a festive one. Her guitarist and bandleader, Kevin Bowe — carrying on the great tradition of Jewish musicians creating Christmas tunes — wrote two playful songs, “When Santa Gets the Blues” and “Little Miss Christmas,” the latter of which he sang. They had fun with their choice of oldies, too, starting with the “Charlie Brown Christmas” opener “Christmas Time Is Here” and including John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
The record also includes a funked-up spin-off of “Little Drummer Boy,” redubbed “Funky Little Drummer” and featuring rapped interludes. “I was afraid people would think we were stomping all over one of the most beloved holiday tunes, but they seem to like it,” said Scott, who had other apprehensions, too.
“I’m a total nut for Christmas, and people have been asking us to do a holiday album, but I resisted because there’s sort of a stigma attached to them. There’s a fine line between being festive and being a total cheeseball about Christmas. I think we got around that, though.”
This year Scott upped her December itinerary from one or two holiday gigs in clubs to a series of shows in arts centers and small theaters around the state, with four left on her docket: Maplewood Performing Arts Theater on Saturday, Chanhassen Dinner Theater Dec. 27-28 and Anoka’s LyricArts Main Stage Dec. 29. LyricArts also has veteran countryman Sherwin Linton’s holiday show on Wednesday night, by the way (7 p.m., $21-$25).
A decade after Sub Pop rescued Minneapolis experimental guitar genius Michael Yonkers from obscurity by reissuing his “Microminiature Love” album, Chicago indie label Drag City will unearth two more old Yonkers recordings Jan. 21: A country music-inspired collection titled “Michael Lee Yonkers” and the 1973 living-room recording “Borders of My Mind.” Yonkers’ more recent LP with the Blind Shake, “Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons,” was recently reissued by local label Nero’s Neptune. … Also look for a Feb. 25 expanded 25th anniversary edition of Bob Mould’s first solo album and last record as a Minnesotan, “Workbook,” accompanied by a short tour that arrives March 4 at the Woman’s Club Theater. …
Surfy indie-rocker France Camp — a k a ex-Howler bassist and Nice Purses leader Jay Simonson — headlines 7th Street Entry on Saturday to celebrate his proper debut record under his campy pseudonym, a reverb-laden effort loaded with playful stop/go songwriting and needling guitar work. The self-titled eight-song collection was produced by Ali Jaafar, who also recorded the recent Kitten Forever album and opens the show with his band the Hollow Boys (10 p.m., $5). … Howler, by the way, broke almost a year of silence on its Facebook page this week and promised a sophomore album next year — “due to mounting pressure from the label and our rapidly deteriorating mental health,” the note joked (or half-joked?). …
“Why does everybody fear the two-tone monster?” Umbrella Bed singer Hellrocket wryly asks on his band’s new EP, “Refill.” Local purveyors of ska music since 1995 — when people actually sought out purveyors of ska music — the horny octet makes a strong case for its hopelessly untrendy but undeniably fun sounds. Release party is Saturday at Cause (9 p.m., $5). …
Not sure how they did it, but those resourceful Doomtree kids got Metro Transit to offer free passes to anyone traveling to this weekend’s Blowout IX gigs. Download a coupon via the calendar at First-Avenue.com. … The Belmore/New Skyway Lounge plays host to a new monthly free-form jam on Tuesday dubbed Chihuahua City and featuring keyboardist DeVon Gray (Heiruspecs), Jeremy Ylvisaker (Cloak Ox), drummer Greg Schutte (Mickey Hart Band) and many of their friends (8 p.m., free). …
Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth is issuing a 2006 live recording by Charlie Parr with members of Trampled by Turtles on limited-edition vinyl (read: could be a collector’s item). You can get it starting at Parr’s weekly gig there Wednesday. Profits benefit Loaves and Fishes. … Despite another cryptic note last Friday on their Twitter and Facebook accounts that read, “Preparing to launch,” it sounds like the Replacements won’t have any news until at least next year. Merry Christmas anyway, suckers.