Album Review: The New Standards and Friends Holiday Show

by David Safar

A tradition is a pattern that becomes a custom, which is often repeated at a specific time and place. It's something you share with friends and family, and it's a way to connect with your community. This December, the New Standards will spend two nights at the Fitzgerald Theater celebrating what has become a tradition for those of us who can still appreciate holiday music, but prefer a new take on those familiar songs.

Joined by their friends — and some of the Twin Cities most loved local musicians — Chan Poling, John Munson, and Steve Roehm have captured this newly found tradition on their new release, The New Standards and Friends Holiday Show. (In the interest of full disclosure, this is a release brought to you by The Current... because how could we resist?) The album is a compilation tracks selected by The New Standards that captures the best moments of their concerts at the Fitzgerald Theater over the past 5 years.

Like the annual shows, this album is an unfamiliar take on some of the most familiar songs. It's a mix of traditional holiday songs and a festive take on some favorite indie and mainstream earworms that have been reinterpreted by The New Standards (or what you might call "standardized"). From "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" to "Do You Realize" (Flaming Lips), and from "Silver Bells" to "Toxic" (Britney Spears), this compilation captures the sincerity and the irony of so many of our holiday traditions.

Not only are the songs familiar, but The New Standards are joined by some of the most recognizable names in Minnesota Music. With an all-star line-up of Minnesota musicians including Dan Wilson, Matt Wilson, Gary Louris, Jeremy Messersmith, and Haley Bonar, the compilation captures the energy and spirit of some of the most memorable moments from the past 5 years at the Fitzgerald Theater. The Scrooge inside you won't be able to resist Haley Bonar's version of Joni Mitchell's song "River," which leads seamlessly into a Jeremy Messersmith original, "Miracles," followed by Dan Wilson singing "Silver Bells."

Most of all, this release is a way to live vicariously through the music. If you haven't been able to experience the New Standards in concert, or seen their annual shows, or if you feel the need to reconnect with the songs from your own holiday tradition, The New Standards and Friends Holiday Show captures the essence of this festive and wistful time of year. A document that will help reminds us of the music, the people, and the place and time in which we exist.

Happy Holidays.

A short animated film about the gritty adventures of the lusty stag, Rudolph, as an adult reindeer in the big city. Directed by Bret Farley based on a concept of Chan Poling and John Munson's with music by The New Standards.