Music News

Los Straitjackets

A number of long-in-the-tooth retro rockers are releasing Christmas CDs this season (Brian Setzer, the Rev. Horton Heat). And this wacky band of surf rockers sporting Mexican wrestling masks wasn't going to sit there and watch the others sled by.

Like Setzer and the Rev., Los Straitjackets' shtick is pretty much played out, but it's nonetheless infused with harmless good fun. There's a smooth, relaxed vibe throughout this all-instrumental set, with no doofus parodying, which would make little sense, since surf music played by musicians in Mexican wrestling masks is parody enough. So the band spruces up the usuals with just enough luau flavor. There's the chiming guitar on "Jingle Bell Rock," a fuzzy "Feliz Navidad," and a Stevie Ray Vaughan-style sendup of "Frosty the Snowman." Every tune boasts famous old surf licks, those melodic, reverbed guitar lines that everyone's familiar with but nobody knows who played them first — kind of like most classic Christmas songs.

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Eric Davidson