Arts Desk

The Sleigher: Heartless Bastards, “Blue Christmas”

HO HO WHO: Twangy Ohio rockers Heartless Bastards deliver the kind of melancholy ditty you'd usually find buried on a Saddle Creek sampler circa 2004. So that makes the band a fightin' candidate for Hear Music/Concord Music Group’s Holidays Rule compilation, a collection of somewhat gloomy holiday standards performed by an all-star lineup of folky Americana acts, twee indie bands, and, for some reason, Paul McCartney.

YULETIDE YEARNING: Anchored by singer and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom’s woeful crooning, The Heartless Bastards' take on the sad-sack-on-Christmas anthem remains pretty faithful to the version Elvis Presley popularized in 1964. Unlike Michael Bublé’s forcibly cheery Dixieland version, and She & Him’s insufferably twee interpretation—both popular, according to Spotify and iTunes—the Bastards retain its vintage country sound, keeping the slow, ballad-like pacing and even throwing in a slide-guitar solo.

FIFTY SHADES OF GLOOM: Somehow, Wennerstrom and Co. actually manage to make the original downer holiday anthem even more depressing with this by-the-book cover that makes you sleepier with every subsequent listen.

CHEER FACTOR: 2/10. If the original wasn’t enough to make you want to drown your sorrows in eggnog and mulled wine, this drowsy cover isn’t going to pull you out of Grinchdom.

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