Music News: 'Tis the season for Christmas album announcements

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William Shatner's album 'Shatner Claus.'
William Shatner's album 'Shatner Claus.' (Cleopatra Records)
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Above, listen to an episode of The Current's daily Music News podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts.


With summertime over, artists are starting to announce this year's crop of new holiday albums. Among the biggest offerings:

The Monkees: Christmas Party! (Oct. 12)

All three surviving Monkees will appear on the band's first-ever Christmas album, which will also feature archived vocals from the late Davy Jones. Rivers Cuomo ("What Would Santa Do") and Andy Partridge ("Unwrap You at Christmas") wrote songs for the album, as did Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of the Minus 5 ("Christmas Party!"). The album also features covers of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" and Big Star's "Jesus Christ." (Rolling Stone)

The band are on a roll after their 2016 album Good Times!, which gave them their highest chart placement since 1968. Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) produced that album, and he's helming the holiday LP as well.

Eric Clapton: Happy Xmas (Oct. 12)

Slowhand says he'll be playing holiday classics with "a blues tinge," and for as-yet-unexplained reasons, his version of "Jingle Bells" is dedicated to the memory of EDM giant Avicii. (Smooth Radio)

William Shatner: Shatner Claus (Oct. 26>

Captain Kirk's Christmas album will feature a wealth of special guests — including Iggy Pop ("Silent Night"), Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull ("Silver Bells"), Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top ("Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"), and Judy Collins ("White Christmas"). For a sense of Shatner's eclectic approach, check out his version of "Jingle Bells" featuring Henry Rollins. (Rolling Stone)

Also dropping holiday discs this season: Mike Love (Reason for the Season, Oct. 26), the Old 97's (Love the Holidays, Nov. 16), JD McPherson (Socks, Nov. 2), John Legend (TBD), RuPaul (title TBD, October release expected), and Engelbert Humperdinck (Warmest Christmas Wishes, Oct. 12).

KISS say goodbye...again

KISS say they're about to announce a final tour. "KISS Army, we're saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we'll go out the same way we came in...unapologetic and unstoppable," the band said in a statement as they hit America's Got Talent to play "Detroit Rock City." No specific tour dates have yet been announced. (NME)

KISS, who formed 45 years ago in New York, went on a previous "Farewell Tour" 17 years ago...so, take this news for what you will.

Dickey Betts in critical condition

Guitarist Dickey Betts, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, is reportedly in critical condition after falling and hitting his head while playing with his dog. Betts is scheduled to undergo brain surgery on Friday morning to relieve swelling. Betts, 74, has been touring with his own band, who have canceled upcoming shows and promised fans they'll share updates as available. Betts wrote and sang Allman classics like "Ramblin' Man." (Rolling Stone)

Noah Cyrus selling her tears

To promote her upcoming Good Cry, pop star Noah Cyrus is selling bottles of her own tears. The tears are only available through Friday, and run $12,000 for a bottle of 12 tears -- that's one G per tear, which is pretty steep even for a Cyrus. "Human digestion of these tears is not suggested," reads the online listing, "cause tears are generally pretty salty and that would just be super f---ing weird if you drank someone else's tears." (Stereogum)

Spotify allows indie artists to upload music directly

Spotify is testing a new feature that will allow independent artists to upload music and view their royalties dashboard directly, without going through a label or distributor. Indie artists like Noname and Michael Brun consulted with the streaming giant on the tools' design, and Rolling Stone notes that the new tools "are almost certainly going to make indie artists as happy as the old music business guard nervous."

For now, several hundred artists have been invited to participate; after testing, the features will become more widely available.

Topaz Jones goes retro

Singer/rapper Topaz Jones has released a vintage-flavored video for his song "Toothache." The fun, grainy clip references old-school electronics, Soul Train, and D'Angelo's iconic "How Does It Feel" video, in the eyes of BuzzFeed. Jones's aunt, who provides the song's spoken-word intro, makes a cameo in the clip.


Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Noah Cyrus: Good Cry EP trailer
Noname feat. Eryn Allen Kane: "Reality Check"
Topaz Jones: "Toothache"


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