Ok Christmas

Letters To Cleo

Dot Rat Records, 2019

http://www.letterstocleo.net

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/04/2020

The mid '90s sure were great to the Boston rockers Letters To Cleo, whose infectious hit “Here & Now” caught the ear of pretty much everyone with access to MTV or the radio. By the late '90s, the outfit was dealing with lineup changes as Stacy Jones found a spot playing drums for Veruca Salt instead, and record label switches weren't helping either. By 2000, they called it a day.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Like many bands who have reunited recently, reunion shows sparked interest, and in the case of Letters To Cleo they started playing shows sporadically in 2008. Ok Christmas, their second EP since reforming, brings us four holiday themed tunes that include one original, one popular song, one local tune, and a classic Christmas track. The original line up minus bassist Scott Riebling, who has his hands full in the restaurant industry, are on hand for this release.

“Father Christmas,” originally by The Kinks, starts the album with bells before bursting into their familiar fuzzed out rock, where driving guitars and a lively rhythm section help illuminate the setting. Kay Hanley's distinct voice sounds just as good as it did in the '90s, still pretty yet playful, and quickly reminds us of their youthful energy. “Miss You Christmas” follows and trims the pace back with a punchy power-pop tune; backing vocals, guitar solos and help make this the standout track, and the only original of the bunch.

The back half of the listen offers us the bouncy spirit of “If I Get Home On Christmas Day,” popularized by Elvis, which injects a bit of Americana into the equation with pedal steel as expressive singing and cautious melodies arrives in spades. “Xmas Time (Sure Don't Feel Like),” the rare tune penned Boston's the Dogmatics, ends the EP with acoustic strumming in a subdued alt-rock anthem.

You can tell that Letters To Cleo had a lot of fun making this record, and we're all going to have just as much fun listening to it. I'm sure all their fans are clamoring for an LP, and, based on the strength of the lone original song here, if one arrives it seems likely to be their best work yet.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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