The True Olympians are on Ball of Wax the Audio Quarterly #58, with “(I’m A) Lonely Little Christmas Tree” and we will be playing the release show at Conner Byrne in Seattle on Saturday NOVEMBER 30 at 9:00 pm. We are first up!
In a write-up about about our track these very kind words were said.
Ball of Wax 58 Songs: Tom Dyer and the True Olympians – “(I’m a) Lonely Little Christmas Tree”
Levi has chosen wisely to begin the new volume of Ball of Wax with selections by strong vocalists. Like Sam Russell, Tom Dyer is something of an area legend, and even moreso a “musical chameleon.” In fact, if you ever have a day to spare, check out the insane catalog of Green Monkey Records, in most of which Dyer has had at least a vocal or instrumental hand, and all of which span a dizzying variety of genres and styles. I’m convinced that Dyer can do, play, and sing anything (his vocal impressions alone go from Elvis to Bryan Ferry to David Byrne with plenty of stops on the way) and it’s frankly intimidating.
All of which is meant to provide context for the oddity that is “(I’m A) Lonely Little Christmas Tree.” Dyer (or at least Green Monkey) has put out several Christmas/Holiday albums, so the general theme and its trappings are not uncharted territory—but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like this. Musically, it’s an academically arranged swing and either completely programmed or played by the best session musician(s) around. With Dyer’s chops, it would be hard to understand him leaving the instrumental duties to MIDI, but I’ve come to believe that everything he does is 100% calculation, so it’s clear that the backing track is exactly as it should be. I think he simply wanted to present a clear recording, focus on his vocal, and parody those Christmas originals many of us grew up with.
That, or his aim was demented cabaret croon karaoke where the house band are nothing if not professional. Speaking of the croon, Dyer moves from confident low-end to near-scat to blues-inflected howl with ease. But I have now listened to this song (on repeat) more times in the last several hours than to “Jingle Bell Rock” or “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” in my entire life (intentional listens—played over the PA at department stores from August to December does not count), and I still don’t quite understand the story or get the metaphor. All I know for sure is that this Lonely Little Christmas Tree does have a significant other, they’re somewhat anthropomorphic, and Santa Claus is kind of a skeezy bastard. There also seems to be some arboreal adultery taking place.
And this, my friends, is what makes memorable Holiday music. It’s different, it’s sonically clean as a whistle, it’s narratively devoid of wise men or babies in the hay, and it’s just damn fun.
Tom and his True Olympians will open up the Ball of Wax 58 celebration on Saturday, November 30th at Conor Byrne. Don’t be late!