Big Stir: Athanor & Holiday Maxi-Single

2019’s Holiday Season has been a big one for Big Stir Records. In addition to The Brothers Steve’s “Holiday Magic,” previously reviewed on this site, they have also released the Weekly Digital Single “I Remember You On Christmas” / “Approximately Eternity” from Athanor, and The Big Stir Holiday Maxi-Single, generously packed with eight tracks from Anton Barbeau, The Bobbleheads, Dolph Chaney, Kai Danzberg & Scott McPherson, The Decibels, The Forty Nineteens, Alison Faith Levy, and Kimberly Rew & Lee Cave-Berry.

“I Remember You On Christmas” appeared in a different version on Kool Kat Records’ “A Kool Kat Kristmas Vol. 3,” while “Approximately Eternity” is exclusive to this single release.

“I Remember You…” hearkens back to an innocent time that may be a distant memory for many of us, as we learn that “Winter came on early, our last year in high school…I asked if I could call on you that Sunday…You looked at me, you didn’t know what to say…”

Horns add a gentle E-Street swing to the track as it develops we learn with perfect sweetness that “all our Winter dreams come true, you still have me and I love you…”

“Approximately Eternity” continues in the vein of unlimited optimism, with a great guitar solo and the wonderful lyric “it’s hard to be found, if you’ve never been lost…” While not a “Holiday Song” per se, it fits perfectly into the spirit of the season.

The heart of the Holiday Maxi-Single, which perfectly reflects the heart found 365 days a year in every aspect of Big Stir’s releases, comes via The Bobbleheads’ “Groovy Time Of Year”...”Forget about your troubles, forget about your woes, forget about your problems, now get up and go…This is a groovy time of year…” Over an irresistibly twangy and jangly Brit Pop backing, it’s so tuneful and rocking that you won’t be able to keep a Grinch face for long after listening.

Dolph Chaney’s acoustic guitar-driven “Christmas” looks for light in the shadows of a season that runs the full spectrum of emotions…“the pitter-patter of little defeats”…after repeatedly asking “Can it be Christmas” as scenes of past and present float by, the answer arrives…“Well, it is, said a voice, with nobody attached…” The doubt and disillusionment melt away as the true meaning of the season reveals itself. It’s a beautifully honest and emotional track that takes a non-traditional route to the heart of it all.

The big surprise here is The Decibels’ “Angels We Have Heard On High” is just that…a surprise that I won’t spoil for you, but suffice it to say that it’s a mash-up of sheer genius. It’s the song you know and “something else,” and when you find out what that something is, the smile that found its way to your face when you put the maxi-single on will get even wider.

The Forty Nineteens’ “It’s Christmas Time Again” has a full, melodic treatment reminiscent of a mid-sixties Phil Spector production. It’s a fun track that ends with band chatter asking the eternal question, “Who’s got the next round?”

Kimberly Rew, who you’ll immediately recognize as the singer / songwriter / guitarist from Katrina & The Waves and Robyn Hitchcock’s Soft Boys, teams once again with his wife and musical partner (see their album Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day here), ends the proceedings with a Chuck Berry via The Beach Boys-flavored power pop stomp, “All I Want Is You For Christmas.”

The CD Single and Maxi-Single, as well as release from The Brothers Steve, are all perfect additions the the magic legacy of the Winter Holidays. Fun, rocking, filled with surprises…Big Stir has delivered the perfect stocking stuffers for kids of all ages.