When normal people sing in unison it tends to make them slow down, all waiting to make sure they're not ahead of others, and so we think of so many of these Christmas songs as near-dirges. But when performed by a band this excited about what they're doing, a song like "Jingle Bells" can truly sparkle, adorned with every glittering colored light arranger Brian Graham could wrap around it.

The hardest thing is keeping the lead vocal far enough forward in the mix when the full band increases in activity as songs go deeper, but Lester puts a bow on the tune with an extended "sleigh" that finishes the song and album on a high note.

It's only a side A's worth, really, and less than 20 minutes, but I expect this isn't the last holiday offering the Fogcutters will produce. Plus, you want to leave plenty of time for Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas and your rare Beatles Christmas record, only sent out to members of the fan club.

It just wouldn't be Christmas without those.

JINGLE THESE BELLS | Released by the Fogcutters | with Anna Lombard + Andi Fawcett + Adam Waxman + Eyenine + Kyle Gervais + Spencer Albee + Lady Zen + Dan Capaldi | at the State Theatre, in Portland | Dec 7 | fogcuttersbigband.com

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