By Zach Collier
In a special Christmas episode of Audio Files entitled, “12 Bands of Christmas,” twelve of Provo’s most prominent acts share both original music and their unique takes on Christmas classics. Shot by acclaimed filmmaker Matt Eastin, this episode of Audio Files is a real treat.
Among those who offer original songs are Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees, Mindy Gledhill, The Str!ke, Book On Tapeworm, and The National Parks.
Elaine Bradley’s song finds her out of her element, placing her behind an electric guitar instead of a drum set, singing an original Christmas hymn. “I didn’t want to do a jingle bells sleigh song about Santa,” says Bradley. “I wanted to do, like, the Christ angle, but that’s extremely daunting. What am I going to say about Christ that hasn’t already been said?” Bradley’s song is a gentle reminder that the man who would become the center of worship for over a third of the world’s population was also just a kid like you and me.
Book On Tapeworm offers a reflective original entitled “The Ghost of New Year’s Past.” Imagine a slower version of Duncan Sheik’s “She Runs Away” without any electric instruments and the folky harmonies of the band America sung over the top of it, and you’ll get the idea of what this song sounds like.
The National Parks steal the show with a light hearted original called, “It’s Christmas and I Like You.” It’s a folksy love song with cute harmonies and light synthesizer over sleigh bells.
Fictionist, Joshua James, The Blue Aces, The Brocks, The Moth & the Flame, Quiet House, and Ryan Innes offer their unique interpretations of classic hymns and carols. The Brocks offer a spacey, atmospheric version of The First Noel with deep synth drums, wailing guitar, haunting harmonies, and a majestic build. Fictionist’s “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” is a fun, quirky cover, that remains reverent even as it bounces and occasionally incorporates blatty 80’s synth.
Quiet House wins for the best overall song of the show. Dressed in red robes and halos, mirroring the religious figures depicted in the stain glass behind them, their rendition of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is awe inspiring. Stuart Wheeler’s soulful drawl is captivating, whether it rings on its own or soars atop beautifully arranged strings. Stephen Cope’s organ lends warmth during the second verse, setting the song up for a climax you won’t want to miss.
“12 Bands of Christmas” was a wonderful episode. We’re looking forward to season 3 of Audio Files, coming in 2016. Watch the entire episode by clicking here.