12" pop shots 

Pas/Cal & Asobi Seksu
“Last Christmas” b/w “Merry Christmas Baby (Let’s Not Fight)”
Romantic Air Recordings

When you have musically inclined friends over to make holiday sugar cookies and decorate them in progressively obscene-macabre permutations of frosting, you could do a lot worse than having this 12-inch single on repeat for your soundtrack. It was originally released last Christmas (ha!), and in an ideal world the Pas/Cal gang would “re-release” this record every year like some sort of sonic Rankin-Bass production. Why? Simply, Pas/Cal has taken a camp-and-pathos-drenched 1986 Christmas hit from Wham!, stretched it to a six-and-a-half-minute jam, and in the process lost none of the original’s bounce and irresistible schmaltz. Better still, they’ve taken those extra three minutes and filled them with over-the-top “ya ya ya” chants, a funky beating-on-trinkets-and-trash breakdown and the sort of airtight bittersweet joy that makes the band irresistible.

Where Pas/Cal tilled fertile cover ground, Asobi Seksu took as its challenge a more obscure Christmas nugget from the immutable Ramones. So there’s less to hang the song on and more to expect at the same time. Still, they spin a big, rich yet strange sonic tapestry that transcends the original by taking full advantage of the Ramones’ repetition while being nowhere near the same musical neighborhood. Can’t say it’s a world-beater, but it holds up its end of the holiday bargain for savvy shoppers.

 

Pas/Cal appears Friday, Dec. 23, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.

Chris Handyside writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com

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