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  A Santa Cause:It's A Punk Rock Christmas 
Artist: Various Artists 
Label: Immortal
 his compilation benefiting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation offers an exceedingly catholic definition of this genre. A better name for it may have been _A Santa Cause:It's A Punk Rock, Emo, Post-Punk, Third Wave Ska, Etc. Christmas_, but that wouldn't have jibed with the package's clever minimalist cartoon graphics. Regardless of title, there's something for a wide gamut of punky tastes.

Lovers of Christian-made punk ands emo have at least three reasons to nab A Santa Cause. Primary among them is MxPx working their Misfits-ish horror-punk mojo in good fun on "Christmas Night of Zombies." Were it not for Mike Hererra's distinctive vocals, it would be tougher to discern it was the Magnified Plaid trio. Further Seems Forever's Jason Gleason locates his inner Sting in full lounge lizard persona for the piquant "Sleigh Bells and Wine." Told you it's a pretty broad conception of punk. What fellow Christo-emo dudes Acceptance have done in covering John Lennon's "So This Is Christmas" is, ironically, make one of the most Lord-affirming cuts of Cause's 20 tracks, albeit with an acoustic arrangement better suited for a coffeehouse than a mosh pit.  After those contributions, the number of hits and misses cancel each other out.

For every whit of whimsy such as Blink-182's "I Won't Be Home For Christmas," there are that many more that invite anything from headscratching to infuriation. The redundancy of The A.K.A.'s' weak nu-metal take on Run DMC's "Christmas In Hollis" rivals the purposeful offense of Stand Still's "I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus,"  turns into a threesome with mom, too. Oh, dear.

If that perversity is the most morally offensive thing here, good (enough) for the Cause. Some punk purists might also balk at the very presence of major label pop-punk, but that also means that they can't pogo to New Found Glory's insta-catchy "Ex Miss." If indie label status and a beef against an ex- make for more cred, however, "Yule Shoot Your Eye Out" from Fall Out Boy (have seen Reliant K wear their T-shirts) should work for the sticklers, however much it evokes Green Day's "Time of Your Life." In a good way. 

Punk's mainstream acceptance has been more evident elsewhere, but nothing can burrow much further into Middle America than adopting its most cherished secular'n'sacred holiday in the name of a kids' medical charity. Get it for the acts you already enjoy, hit "skip" for the dross, and know that Santa helps a good cause.
Jamie Lee Rake  12/26/2004                                             


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