Holiday discs 2014: Sounds of the Christmas season

This year’s Christmas crop includes a notoriously raunchy performer keeping it clean, and more Swedes than usual

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      One of the really fun things about Christmas, besides aiming tiny cocktail wieners into your father-in-law’s drooling maw as he sleeps off the tryptophan and White Russians, is exploring the various forms it takes around the world. In the Czech Republic, for instance, fish soup and homemade potato salad are traditionally served on December 25. The Netherlands, meanwhile, prefers to celebrate this holiest of holidays with the much-loved, race-baiting character Black Pete, while in Austria, Romania, and parts of Germany, children are menaced and attacked with rusty chains by a boozy, demonic entity known as Krampus.

      In other words, thank sweet baby Jesus that we live over here, where Christmas is seen as the sacred communion of family, Toys “R” Us, and Jewish entertainers that God almost certainly intended. At the Straight, Christmas means poring over the seemingly infinite number of Yuletide albums uncynically released each year, and separating the terrible (symbolized by a sad Charlie Brown Christmas tree) from the serviceable (awarded with a fresh pair of tighty-whiteys) and the great (honoured with a bright and shiny gift). If we find one release that belongs on your playlist next to seasonal favourites by Dean Martin, the Beach Boys, and, of course, Blowfly, then we’ve done our job. Fish soup, potato salad, and rusty chains for all!