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MXPXUntil 2009, Washington-based skate punks MXPX never released a Christmas album (Punk Rawk Christmas). And yet, I wrote this review long before then. Why? Because this spirited trio - who sound similar to loud, pop-savvy bands like Green Day or the Descendents - had released a series of fantastic Christmas CD singles, mostly as annual freebies for their devoted fan club. Over the years my fondest desire - after one night alone with Ann-Margaret, a '65 Ford Mustang ragtop, and, of course, world peace - was that one day MXPX would compile all those great songs (and more?) onto one incredibly slammin' CD. For years, this seemed about as likely to happen as world peace and that other stuff, and you, dear reader, would have to scrounge for them in dusty record bins and on the internet (check Amazon and eBay) like I did. Punk Rawk Christmas changed all that - almost.

MXPX are one of many of Christian punk and alternative rock groups, though they've kept their religious beliefs understated - so much so that you wouldn't guess from a cursory listen to their music. And, I'm pretty sure the word "Jesus" appears nowhere on their website... Anyway, more than anything, you'll notice what's not there - pointless ranting, foul language, or overt violence ("Christmas Night Of The Zombies" notwithstanding).

MXPXTake a gander, for instance, at what constitutes being "naughty" in this excerpt from "You're The One I Miss (This Christmas)"...

Let's drink hot chocolate,
and eat some candy.
Let's open all our presents early.

Wow, dude, that's living on the edge. But, they rock like crazy, so MXPX can comfortably straddle the cultural fence, appearing with the saints on Happy Christmas Vol. 2 (1999), then alongside the sinners on A Santa Cause (2004).

Written (sometimes with band input) and sung by bassist Mike Herrera, the MXPX Christmas songs tackle mainly interpersonal concerns apropos to most pop punk (or even emo). The first single, "Christmas Day" (1998), is one of their best, and it's fairly typical of the band's approach - a hard-driving, chunky chord progression layered with simple harmonies, relating a story tinged with faith and sexual longing. "Christmas Day," by the way, is one of the only MXPX Christmas tracks available on a commercial CD (the aforementioned Happy Christmas volume).

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MXPX On "Christmas Comes Only Once A Year" (1999), MXPX turns their attention to matters slightly more weighty (the reason for the season, ahem), with a concomitant downturn in energy. "Coming Home For Christmas" (2000) and "You're The One I Miss (This Christmas)" (2001) return to matters more carnal, expressing sentiments pretty typical of lonely punk rockers who spend a lot of time in their van. "Christmas Party" (2002) is, predictably, more celebratory, claiming "Every time I sleep, I dream that you will keep living every day like it's a holiday." The lyrics are fairly indecipherable, but the band seems to be throwing a Christmas bash. While giddy with anticipation, they're worried that no one's going to show up. At least, I think that's what's going on... Finally, "So This Is Christmas" (2003) delves into a murky personal situation, with Herrera confessing that he's "screwed up so many times," begging "find it in your heart to forgive 'cause this is Christmas."

And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different. "Christmas Night Of The Living Dead" appeared that same year on A Santa Cause, a compilation of punk rockers to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation for Pediatric AIDS. Herrera dreams that something besides Santa comes to visit on Christmas Eve, something "hungry for some flesh to eat." Zombies! Not one to back down, Herrera pulls out shotguns and axes, eventually "breaking bones with my bare hands." Vowing that "we won't rest until you're dead," he fights till "the snow is red." Nightmare or wish fulfillment? You be the judge.

MXPXIn 2004, when MXPX released "It's Christmas And I'm Sick," the band switched to MP3 downloads. Subsequently, I lost whatever access I might have had to the songs, and our story ended - until 2009 when MxPx finally unleashed Punk Rawk Christmas, an MP3 download compilation of their Christmas singles plus some new tracks. Simply put, Punk Rawk Christmas was nearly everything I could have hoped for - except that it was released in a digital-only format (the bane of obsessive/compulsive collectors). A few weeks later - after I'd plunked down cash for the MP3 album - a limited edition "green" CD with an expanded pullout and two extra songs went on sale through the band's website. So, I bought that, too. Later, another CD - the "red" version with the same tracks but a slimmer booklet - became available through Amazon. Talk about money changers in the temple!

For the aforementioned obsessive/compulsive collectors, the old fan club CD's aren't terribly rare - MXPX must have a big fan club. But, they are nevertheless highly sought after; be prepared to pay dearly. So, for most fans, Punk Rawk Christmas is the answer to their prayers - and a slammin' good soundtrack for any sort of Christmas, religious or secular. [top of page]

Albums Albums

SongsSongs

  • Christmas Day (1998)
  • Christmas Only Comes Once A Year (1999)
  • Coming Home For Christmas (2000)
  • You're The One I Miss (This Christmas) (2001)
  • Christmas Party (2002)
  • So This Is Christmas (2003)
  • Christmas Night Of The Living Dead (2004)
  • It's Christmas And I'm Sick (2004)
  • 2005 (2005)
  • Late Great Snowball Fight of 2006 (2006)
  • Gimme Christmas (2007)
  • Another Song About Christmas (2008)
  • Auld Lang Syne (2009)
  • Punk Rawk Christmas (2009)

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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