I dag er det en amerikaner i Oslo som velger sine favorittjulelåter. I februar slipper Robert Moses sitt album nummer to med det strålende backingbandet Harmony Crusaders hvis besetning blant annet teller Malin Pettersen fra Lucky Lips. Ikke dermed sagt at Robert og bandet spiller countrymusikk, det er snarere en utvidet og fordomsfri tolkning av americanabegrepet, der det meste er lov. Det nye albumet Plutonic Friends spenner fra krautrockinspirerte instrumentaler til stillfaren countrymusikk, og mellom de to ytterpunktene finner vi litt av hvert.

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Jeg skal innrømme at jeg bare så vidt har hørt Robert Moses & The Harmony Crusaders debutalbum Self-Developing Country fra 2013, men det fikk strålende mottagelse og veldig gode anmeldelser. Likevel kan jeg garantere at de har skrudd opp ambisjonsnivået betydelig på den nye platen. Basert på de to singlene som er utgitt foreløpig – «Rise From The Mud» og «Lost Lullaby» – har albumet fått en fin og velfortjent forhåndsbuzz, og det vil forbause meg om det ikke blir gjenstand for mye positiv oppmerksomhet når det lanseres.

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Med det er det på tide å gi ordet til Robert, eller Bob blant venner. Vi lar vår mann få uttrykke seg på engelsk, men jeg antar at han blir forstått av de fleste som leser dette. Han skriver for øvrig veldig levende og innsiktsfullt om musikken, så dette er en fryd å lese.

Over to you, Bob!

«Little Drummer Boy» – Harry Simeone Chorale
When I was first exposed to Christmas music as a child, whether at home or at church, it was in versions like this – a choir, a relatively simple arrangement and it had a calm, clear, echoing presence to it that reflected the state of mind at that time of year and the Midwestern winter landscape where I grew up. This music is ‘timeless’ to me in a number of respects and it has to be some of the first music I can remember hearing that took hold in me. When I came upon this song again recently it connected me to the simplicity and power of listening to music that I experienced as a child, which was always a bit spooky, wondrous and mystical, and seemed to make time stand still.

«God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen» – Mark Kozelek
I could have easily just put the whole record Sings Christmas Carols in its entirety for my list. There are many beautiful versions of Christmas songs on the record.

«Do You Hear What I Hear?» – Mahalia Jackson
This is sung with authority.

«Oh, Come All Ye Faithful» – Loretta Lynn
She is probably my favorite female country singer. Her voice is full of dignity and to me it sounds like there is a knowing smile in it that comes from having lived a long, full life.

«Silent Night» – The Everly Brothers
I have always been a big Everly Brothers fan, but there is something a little dark and fragile about this record made with the Boystown Choir. I am not sure what it is, but maybe the combination of the Everlys and the choir makes the brothers’ voices sound somewhat elf-like and that they had just emerged from their backwoods cabin after being inside it for a long time, deciding to sit in with the choir that had appeared in the local church and then slinking back out again into the dark night. This version also captures some of the spookiness of what it was like to be at church late at night on Christmas Eve as a child.

«Hark! The Herald Angels Sing» – Nat King Cole
What a soft, supple and smooth voice.

«We Will Rock You»/»We Are The Champions» – Queen

These songs are not connected to Christmas itself as much as it is to a time and place. When I was a child we moved to a new place right before Christmas, and I wasn’t very happy about switching schools and leaving my friends. As a way to cheer me up my father let me put his German, 1950s tube short wave radio in my bedroom. I was so fascinated by it and how we could pick up broadcasts from around the world. During that time, these two bombastic songs were on the radio all the time throughout the winter and contrasted a great deal to the flat, barren landscape outside my window. This was about the time I first discovered rock music and these songs, like a number of them at that time, were like a message from another planet.

«Virgin Mary Had One Son» – Happy Dagger
The first time I heard their entire record Songs of Shame I thought, ‘Who are these people? This is so good. What songwriting talent!’ The second time I thought ‘This is disturbing.’ Not many artists can pull that combination off. I even feel a little uneasy putting them on this list at all. That’s all I’m going to say about Happy Dagger. Enter at your own risk. Merry Christmas!