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281. The Monkees: Christmas Party (2018)

Continuing the Monkees renaissance that began with 2016's Good Times! is the band's first everChristmas album.Christmas Party follows the same blueprint as Good Times! It was produced by Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger. It also features prominent songwriters contributing new tunes. And all three living Monkees participated, with Davy Jones showing up via archival material.

If Good Times! was an unlikely confluence of my tastes (Monkees + Fountains of Wayne + XTC + Weezer), this one is even moreso. In addition to the return of those previous elements, Christmas Party has Peter Buck from R.E.M., a tune with lyrics by one of my favorite writers (Michael Chabon), backup vocals by singer/songwriter David Mead, and cover art by one of my favorite comic book artists (Michael Allred). Who at Rhino Records is inside my head?

As with my other Monkees reviews, I'll break things into categories.

New Songs
All four of these tunes were written new for this record, and feature…

I Wrote a Book!

I'm sure don't have to tell you it's been awhile since I've spent much time around these parts. I have a good excuse: I've been writing books instead of blog entries. My first book, a biography of children's author and critic Eleanor Cameron, came out this past spring (you can order it here or from your local bookstore).

My second book - The Hopefuls: Chasing a Rock 'n' Roll Dream in the Minnesota Music Scene - is obviously more germane to the blog at hand. It's a joint biography of four independent musicians from my former home city of Minneapolis / St. Paul. From the mid '90s to the end of the '00s, these four were at the center of a diverse and wide-ranging musical collective, encompassing several bands I love - Olympic HopefulsVicious Vicious, Alva Star, Spymob, Storyhill, and Kid Dakota, to name a few. The book traces each of their musical paths as they intersect and converge and diverge again.



The book is due out this November from M…