Admittedly, I’m not much of a Christmas enthusiast these days, what with getting old and the existential dread that comes along with it, but NJ’s Match Party have seemed to find a way to un-scrooge me, at least for 3 minutes and 58 seconds - with their version of “Christmas Time Is Here Again”, the classic track from the 1965 TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on their latest Holiday EP 2016.
Defined in their bio as “an experimental band with punk, new wave and metal influences. Not afraid to get poppy or weird. Music takes many forms, and so do we”, Match Party deliver in pretty much all those respects with this 2 song EP.
“Christmas Time…” starts out with Gwen Lopez’s well executed, fluid keyboards taking you back in time to the feel of the original classic, with singer/guitarist Adrian Spoleti singing the initial verse in an uncharacteristically traditional style, but spot on and clearly effective. Things get “weird” around the 1:25 mark where Match Party’s rhythm section joins the fun with a nice transition to the full band coming together, fleshing out the track with their own signature “post-punky” feel yet still somehow keeping the integrity of the original intact. Steve Petras’ bass track is a clear stand out as the bass swirls and slides yet still pounds and drones away at every root note needed, with drummer Shawn Corby providing the thump and solid drumming behind the kit. This was a nice surprise - an intriguing, unique and effective version of a classic holiday song. One that most bands probably wouldn’t attempt, or be able to deliver on in the way Match Party does here. Highly recommended.
The 2nd track “Gravity” is a repetitive and somewhat droney track with talk tracks over it. Being old and deaf and since they’re not very loud in the mix (or maybe it’s the cheap headphones I’m using), it’s tough to make out all of what’s being said, but I’m pretty sure I heard some Christmas related stuff, an “I miss you”, and some other seemingly depressing sounding convos related to the general theme of the EP. I can personally relate to this one a bit more, as it seems to parallel and capture one’s dread of the season (which seems to only amplify the absurdity of consciousness itself), it’s length of over 6 minutes helping to drive home that feel – but I digress. A clear contrast with “Christmas Time…”, these 2 songs together make for the perfect holiday EP in that it captures themes from joy to dread – all in 10 minutes.
The band states that this is the first of a planned yearly series of holiday releases. One can only hope they follow through. We’ll see. MP has been around since the 90s in various forms, but have regrouped in 2016. They also released another solid EP “Grey Fields” earlier in the year, the first with this new and improved lineup.