Reilly

Kick Ass Celtic Christmas

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Kick Ass Celtic Christmas may go down in history as the most irreverent Christmas release of 2008. This 47-minute CD is hardly the first Celtic-oriented Christmas album; there have been plenty of them over the years. But the thing that separates Kick Ass Celtic Christmas from other Celtic Christmas discs is the fact that humor is such a prominent ingredient -- not subtle or understated humor, but rowdy, sneering, in-your-face humor. The Milwaukee-based band Reilly frequently combine Celtic music (generally of the Irish variety rather than the Scottish or Breton varieties) with punk, and that yields raucous and very edgy results on unlikely arrangements of Christmas standards that range from "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" to "The Little Drummer Boy" to "Good King Wenceslas." The Irish standard "Christmas in Killarney" has been recorded by numerous Celtic artists over the years, but rarely does it sound as boisterous as it does in Reilly's hands. Just how irreverent does Kick Ass Celtic Christmas get? On the dark-humored "Father Christmas," some juvenile delinquents threaten Santa with bodily harm if they don't get the presents they want. Dark humor, of course, has been a part of punk ever since the Ramones first made their presence felt back in the 1970s -- and "Father Christmas" is a prime example of how dark-humored punk (in Reilly's case, Celtic punk) can be. Kick Ass Celtic Christmas won't be everyone's cup of tea (or should that be "everyone's pint of Guinness?"), but then, the fact that this release is unusually ballsy for a Christmas album is a big part of its unorthodox appeal and a big part of what makes it so much fun (at least if one doesn't have delicate sensibilities). Bottom line: anyone who likes the idea of bringing together Christmas songs, Celtic music, punk, and politically incorrect humor will find a lot to enjoy on Kick Ass Celtic Christmas.

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