We’ve put the annual Suburban Sprawl Music Holiday Comp up for download over at suburbansprawlmusic.com. This is the fourth year we’ve put the comp together, and all four year’s worth of MP3’s are available for free download. Some highlights from newcomers to this year’s comp:

The City On Film – “O Holy Blanket (A Christmas Waltz)” [MP3]

     I was a huge Braid fan, and Mr. Nanna’s post-Braid band Hey Mercedes was kind enough to play a benefit show for the Art Scholarship we set up in memory of my younger brother, Chris. The City on Film is Bob Nanna’s long-running one man band-ish project. Needless to say, I’m really excited to have this song on the comp.

Knight & Doble – “The Man With All The Toys” [MP3]

     Shawn Knight (New Grenada, SSM’s resident sleeve artist of late) and Christian Doble (Kiddo): Even greater than the sum of their parts!

The Canadian Dollars – “Outsourcin’ Christmas (The Unemployed Little Elf Song)” [MP3]

     I’m not sure yet if the ‘Canadian Dollars’ name is just for fun or if he really wants his identity kept secret, so I’ll play it safe and say that this guy has impeccable production abilities, is super nice, and writes music you can hear on the Cartoon Network.

Hairshirt – “Xmas in Mesopotamia” [MP3]

     Local favorites Hairshirt serve up an oblique Christmas card to Iraq, Run through a Depeche Mode filter.

Timothy Monger – “Airstream” [MP3]

     Tim (of Great Lakes Myth Society fame) delivers a stripped down Carol that has made me notice way more Airstreams this year.

     Of course, many of the SSM standbys also appear in one configuration or another, contributing both characteristic and uncharacteristic holiday songs.

     Chris Hatfield of Those Transatlantics isn’t a newcomer to the comp, but I love the crap out of his song, because it’s like a painstakingly researched history lesson crossed with a comic book, and I harangued him into writing it just a few days before it was due. So good!

Chris Hatfield – “Born Again Pagan” [MP3]

     “Born Again Pagan” taught me the history of Christmas that everyone should know.

          “It’s very tough for us North Americans to imagine Mary and Joseph trudging to Bethlehem in anything but, as Christina Rosetti memorably described it, “the bleak mid-winter,” surrounded by “snow on snow on snow.” To us, Christmas and December are inseparable. But for the first three centuries of Christianity, Christmas wasn’t in December — or on the calendar anywhere.

     If observed at all, the celebration of Christ’s birth was usually lumped in with Epiphany (January 6), one of the church’s earliest established feasts. Some church leaders even opposed the idea of a birth celebration. Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods.

     Not all of Origen’s contemporaries agreed that Christ’s birthday shouldn’t be celebrated, and some began to speculate on the date (actual records were apparently long lost). Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) favored May 20 but noted that others had argued for April 18, April 19, and May 28. Hippolytus (c.170-c.236) championed January 2. November 17, November 20, and March 25 all had backers as well. A Latin treatise written around 243 pegged March 21, because that was believed to be the date on which God created the sun. Polycarp (c.69-c.155) had followed the same line of reasoning to conclude that Christ’s birth and baptism most likely occurred on Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day.

     The eventual choice of December 25, made perhaps as early as 273, reflects a convergence of Origen’s concern about pagan gods and the church’s identification of God’s son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness” whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.”Christianitytoday.com

     So… the ‘Reason for the Season’ is actually to make sure that all those other guys who had the idea first didn’t win out.


Xmas House