...then Loose Cattle'sSeasonal Affective Disorder is the Christmas album for you. Released on December 1st, the record shines a light on the darker side of the holiday season, mixing humor, honesty and tongue-in- cheek twang into 15 Americana songs.
Although recorded in Brooklyn (where bandmates Kimberly Kaye and Michael Cerveris formed Loose Cattle in 2011) and New Orleans, Seasonal Affective Disorder takes most of its influence from the American South. There's plenty of country harmony, honky-tonk fiddle and pedal steel guitar to be found here, all spread throughout a tracklist that includes originals and covers. The band turns John Denver's "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" into a rootsy, roadhouse-worthy holiday tune, then scales things back for "Shepherds in a Parking Lot," a self-penned song about banding together to survive the holiday chaos.
"I grew up loving Christmas," admits Cerveris, a West Virginia native (and two time Tony Award-winning actor, now starring on TV'sThe TickandGotham) who served as a sideman for Husker Du frontman Bob Mould before launching his own music career. "And I still love it, but I recognize that a lot of my holidays are kinda more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas than the Waltons." Kaye elaborates, ”You're told you're supposed to be having this fantastic time, but if you aren't, that makes you feel even worse. People struggle alone, but as a band, we've learned that connecting with other people who feel the same way makes getting through those hard times a whole lot easier.
For Loose Cattle, Seasonal Affective Disorderis built upon a holiday tradition that dates back to 2011, the same year Kaye and Cerveris launched the band in New York City. Looking to give their families an unexpected Christmas present, the bandmates booked some time in a recording studio on December 23rd, emerging that evening with their own version of Big Star's "Jesus Christ." The next year, they picked a new song and repeated the process. The pattern continued. Every Christmas season, Loose Cattle's members would find themselves in a studio with friends, feasting on pizza and beer while recording more left-of- center holiday music.
Seasonal Affective Disorder rounds up several songs from those yearly sessions, packaging them with a handful of new recordings. Included in the mix is a second original, "Don't Make your Mama Cry on Christmas Day," whose accordion riffs and French lyrics — as well as an appearance by the Grammy-nominated Lost Bayou Ramblers — nod to the Cajun influence of Louisiana. Tom McDermott, another icon from the Big Easy, plays piano on several songs, while guests like Jon Graboff (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Shooter Jennings) and Carmella Ramsey (Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire) make their own appearances. The result is an album of country Christmas duets, offbeat carols, Yuletide drinking songs and bah-humbug ballads, all performed not only by Loose Cattle's members, but also their circle of musician friends in New Orleans, New York and beyond.
"It's a musical version of getting your friends and family members together for the holidays," explains Kaye, who shares lead vocals with Cerveris. Like her duet partner, Kaye cut her teeth on the road, traveling the Warped Tour circuit as a member of a ska band before shifting her attention to roots music. Seasonal Affective Disorder nods to their punky pasts while also showcasing Loose Cattle's poignant punch as an alt-country band. It may be a Christmas album, but it's the sort of Christmas album you can play all year.
"We've always loved songs that are a little twisted and a little bent, because we're a little twisted, too, "Kaye adds. Cerveris explains, "We both have our punk-rock roots, and then our country music history. This record captures all of that."