X’s Exene Cervenka shares 5 favorite X-Mas albums ahead of Southern California holiday shows – LA Daily News

It’s beginning to look a lot like X-Mas as Los Angeles punk rock band X is gearing up for its annual run of regional holiday shows. The quartet is playing a pair of gigs at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles Dec. 3-4, The Observatory in Santa Ana on Dec. 18 and wrapping up its jolly run at The Belly Up in Solana Beach on Dec. 19.

Though the band released “Merry Xmas From X,” a two-track EP back in 2009, vocalist Exene Cervenka said they’ve only played their versions of “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” a few times live because the fans are “like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get the Christmas thing; now play ‘White Girl,’” she said with a laugh during a recent phone interview from her home in Orange.

X dropped its first new album in 27 years, “Alphabetland,” during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The band was recently able to perform the songs live for audiences, including two hometown shows in front of enthusiastic crowds at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa and The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

Cervenka said she’s ready for these more intimate gigs and they’ve always been her favorite way to wrap up the year.

“We had last year off and were home for Christmas, so I look at it like, ‘Hey, you’re back to work and that’s Christmas enough,’” she said. “Being out, seeing people, playing shows, it’s a great tradition for us that we always look forward to, especially when you’re super grateful like we are. We are so grateful and we’re very happy.”

Though fans won’t hear traditional Christmas music at the upcoming X gigs, Cervenka will be enjoying seasonal music this year to get her in the spirit. She shared her Top 5 favorite Christmas albums with us in no particular order:

“A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector” was released in 1963 and features Darlene Love singing “White Christmas,” The Ronettes take on “Frosty the Snowman” and The Crystals singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” (Image courtesy of Amazon)

“A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector” (1963)

“It’s traditional Christmas songs done by those great mostly girl groups, but some guys as well. But it’s that Phil Spector sound and all the songs are very emotional; they’re not just fluffy. They’re soulful and emotional and it’s just a great record any time of the year really.”

Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was released in 1965 and accompanied the televised Christmas special of the same title. (Image courtesy of Amazon)

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi (1965)

“That’s just a childhood bittersweet memory. When I was a kid, I would watch that movie every year because back then we didn’t have videos and on Christmas you’d watch ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ when it came on. You just had to wait for it to come on once a year and it was so exciting. It reminds me of Christmas and something you’d all do together like with your siblings.”

Singer Brenda Lee’s 1964 “Merry Christmas with Brenda Lee” features her iconic vocals on “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” (Image courtesy of Amazon)

“Merry Christmas with Brenda Lee” (1964) 

“Brenda Lee is one of the greatest singers of all time, and she was like 13 years old at this time with ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ She is so great and I love when her songs come on, especially in the car. She was so unique, young, composed and beautiful … I wish I was like that. I was the complete sloppy mess opposite.”

Country artist Buck Owens and His Buckaroos released its second holiday album, “Christmas Shopping,” in 1968 with original songs like “Good Old Fashioned Country Christmas” and “One of Everything You Got.” (Image courtesy of Amazon)

“Christmas Shopping” by Buck Owens and His Buckaroos (1968)

“If you wanted to know what life was like in the ’60s for kids and what they had on their Christmas lists, it was the simple things. ‘Christmas Shopping’ is a great one, and plus it’s Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, so you have the best musicians and really, he can sing anything because he was so great.”

“Pretty Paper” was released on Nov. 6, 1979 and is the 24th studio album released by country singer Willie Nelson. It’s his first Christmas album and features classic songs like “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.” (Image courtesy of Amazon)

“Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson (1979)

“It’s kind of the more outlaw, hippie Willie Nelson, but it’s great because the cover of the LP has the paper torn off like it’s a gift that you’ve started to unwrap and it has this ribbon on it and it’s really adorable. It’s more of a traditional record with songs like ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and stuff, but it’s fun to hear an outlaw grizzle-kind of biker-era Willie Nelson guy singing ‘Frosty the Snowman.’”

Honorable Mention Holiday Song: “Merry Christmas, Baby” by Charles Brown (1947)

“It’s such a beautiful and sad, grown-up song. All of the other stuff I mentioned was more kids stuff, mostly, but ‘Merry Christmas, Baby,’ that’s sittin’ by yourself with a cocktail.”

X: X-Mas Re-Zoomed

With: Soft Kill

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3-Saturday, Dec. 4

Where: Teragram Ballroom, 1234 West 7th Street, Los Angeles

Tickets: $35 at Ticketmaster.com

Also: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18 at The Observatory, Santa Ana. Tickets are $38 at LiveNation.com; 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19 at The Belly Up, 143 South Cedros Ave., Solona Beach. Tickets are $35 at bellyup.com.