Arts Desk

The Sleigher: Gasfoodlodger, “Christmas Wishes”

HO HO WHO: Gasfoodlodger is Dave Griffiths of Gasfoodlodging, an English alt-country band that includes drummer Pete Robinson, who was in Band of Joy with Robert Plant back in the '60s . Griffiths' daughter, who goes by the stage name Candygirlsugar, appears in the song's video. She obviously doesn't mind being on camera, but her commitment to the project at hand is questionable.

LIKE THE JOSHUA TREE, EXCEPT NOT: "Christmas Wishes" must be discussed entirely within the context of its video, which, at first glance, seems to be an appreciative outsider's view of North American holiday cheer. The picture of "Christmas Street" is from a place where people drive on the right side of the road. The video is set in a virtual log cabin. (Do they have log cabins in England?) Everything is generally cheery and optimistic (i.e. not particularly English at all, except for the use of "happy Christmas," which always seems more loaded with irony than "merry Christmas"). Then the lyrics start to sink in: "Roasted chestnuts are cooking everywhere." Oh, OK, the setting of the song and the video is clearly "nowhere," because there's probably not a place left on Earth where people are roasting chestnuts everywhere. And even if that place existed, you probably would not want to hang out there for very long.

CHRISTMAS IS THE TIME TO WRITE B-SIDES: For a boozily paced pop song that is larded with synth chords and twinkly glockenspiel sounds, "Christmas Wishes" is surprisingly easy on the ears. Maybe it's Griffiths' mildly earnest vocals, which follow this heretofore unwritten and rarely cited rule: "If you're going to make a throwaway Christmas song, try to sound like you mean it." It worked for Billy Squier, at least.

CHEER FACTOR: 6/10. Pretty much anybody could cover this song. Wait, is that a good thing?

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