Holiday Music We Love: The Monkberries Release "Merry Berries"
I have a confession to make: I hate Christmas music. I hate it with a fiery, burning, Grinch-like passion. At best, it is kitschy and heavy-handed; at worst, it is grating, gimmicky, and completely devoid of artistic merit. I harbor so much animosity towards Christmas music that sometimes I contemplate starvation as a viable alternative to enduring an unending barrage of holiday “spirit” at the grocery store. If you had asked me yesterday if there was any hope left for traditional Christmas music, my answer would have been a resounding, “No."
Luckily for the Monkberries, I am capable of admitting defeat.
Adam Millard and Marissa Hunt have managed to deliver a refreshing tribute to old Christmas standards. There are two singles on the release, aptly titled “Merry Berries." The A-side is “Melekalikimaka," a lilting, psychedelic tune that is far more reminiscent of a beachfront than the North Pole. Considering the song is steeped in references to Hawaii and Hawaiian culture, it seems like an apt production decision to inject as much of this aesthetic as possible into the track. It works on a few different levels, thematically and compositionally. The song’s surf-rock roots are what make it so enticing, all while managing to stay on brand with the lyrics of the song itself, with Millard’s vocals sounding slightly reminiscent of those of Mac Demarco.
The B-side is slightly more complicated. As a rendition of The Christmas Waltz, the song is confined to a ¾ time signature, as is customary for the style. However, when coupled with the ethereal, lo-fi production, it becomes a track that feels both traditional and contemporary. Both of these elements serve to compliment Hunt’s stellar vocal performance on the track. It is a gentle but driving force that ushers the song forward without reprieve.
The singles manage to evade the clichés that have bogged down both the culture and performance of Christmas music, making for a pleasant holiday experience that relaxes instead of infuriating.
Header image design by Sara Button