XMAS MEN Review - LA TIMESLA TIMES
The Xmas-Men, "Santa Is Real" (Rosetta Records). The Xmas-Men are Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen's backup band, and they've whipped up a swinging instrumental trad-country take on more than a dozen holiday staples, including their boss' twisted modern-day ode to dysfunction, "Merry Xmas From the Family" (minus the lyrics, of course). Arrangements are consistently inspired, often surprising, and their performances are as buoyant as Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. Extra points for the most inspired album cover of the year, a brilliant yuletide spin on the Louvin Brothers' 1960 country-gospel classic, "Satan Is Real." Rating: Three and a half stars
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