Straight No Chaser: Holiday Spirits

There is something about a ten-piece vocal group that just lends itself to holiday music. Straight No Chaser is such a group, and after forming over ten years ago at Indiana University, this group became YouTube darlings last year with their hilarious and compelling version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman was one of those who liked what he saw; the rest is history, as Holiday Spirits is the group’s debut on Atlantic. But these guys are no one-hit wonder, because this collection of traditional holiday songs and a few originals blend together beautifully, and are delivered with an amazing vocal flair that rivals the likes of Take 6. Some of the highlights are Donnie Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells,” and of course “The 12 Days of Christmas,” a live version that shows the group’s morphing into a medley of holiday songs, culminating in a clever use of the lyrics to “12 Days” to the tune of Toto’s “Africa.” But to have original songs rival the traditional stuff is not easy, and Straight No Chaser pulls it off with ease, particularly on the stunning “Indiana Christmas.” This one is a must-have this holiday season. (Atlantic 2008)

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