Reviews of The Kustard Kings cd "A Kustard Kristmas"

New York Times
Reviewed by Neil Strauss

The Kustard Kings, the house band for the excellent retro-pop Loser's Lounge events, deliver a fun-rocking sleigh ride in which the original songs actually hold up alongside those of the Beach Boys, Raymond Scott and a medley of Band Aid and the Royal Guardsmen.

Reviewed by Jason Hoffman

A Kustard Kristmas (is) by the wickedly tight alterna-pop house band at Loser's Lounge, The Kustard Kings. With nearly an hour of material these five kings bear sixteen instrumental gifts guaranteed to even make Scrooge tap his feet. The medley "Holly Jolly Christmas/We Are Santa's Elves" from one of those Rankin/Bass animated Christmas specials is a surf-guitar-and-organ duet injected with the sugar of three dozen Christmas cookies. The Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick" mixes the classic version with a riff influenced by "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" for another energetic excursion. More surf rock is to be found in the original "A Kustard Kristmas" which showcases their classic pop-funk-lounge sound with tastefully restrained guitars and organ juxtaposed with a crushing wall of guitars. "Christmas Night in Harlem" features varied percussion and layer upon layer of squishy, fun keyboard sounds and a colorful Lincoln-era They Might Be Giants sound. As heavy as last years fruitcake is the original "U Sleigh Me," with a monsterously fuzzed-out guitar riff sure to make your behind shake and wiggle. Sporting a groovin' bass line similar to Edgar Winter's Group's "Frankenstein" is the King's take on "Welcome Christmas" from the classic "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" special. With a cowbell recklessly joining the mix of banjo and cartoonish sounds, a wheezy keyboard duels with a strep-throated guitar to make this version delightfully memorable. Another killer track is "Heat Miser Strut," based on the song from another Christmas special, "The Year Without A Santa Claus." Steamy and murky, the melody oozes like lava from a scorching keyboard with subtle wah guitar that later gives way to electric piano that further explores the catchy melody.

There are no monster egos in this tight quintet ... they are a true ensemble cast, and it shows in the musical variety where everyone gets their time in the limelight. The best thing I can say about this crazily inventive album is that I will not be surprised to find myself listening to it in the dead of summer. Yes, it's definitely one album that won't be packed up with all the other Christmas CDs on December 26.


This release features the house band for the Loser's Lounge series of pop-rock tribute shows, featuring a rotating cast of NYC-area musicians, at least some of whose names you'll recognize, who have given props to everybody from Burt Bacharach to David Bowie and Roxy Music to Elvis Costello. Calling themselves a pop-funk-lounge ensemble, they're every bit that versatile and a little more besides. They throw in some spunky originals like "Snow Globe Symphonette," "U Sleigh Me," "3 Ho's," "Santa's Favorite Helper" and "A Kustard Christmas." Kicking off and closing with The Beatles' "Christmas Time Is Here Again," they go for other covers with character, like "Welcome Christmas" from the "Grinch" story, "Heat Miser Strut," "Santa Baby" with a touch of Bryan Ferry's version of "The In Crowd," a crack at "I Want An Alien For Christmas" and medleys of "Holly Jolly Christmas/We Are Santa's Elves" and the inspired pairing of "Do They Know It's (Snoopy's) Christmas."

A Kustard Kristmas should not be undersold. It features a unique, retro-funk sound you won't believe, several Kristmas kompositions by the Kustard Kings' own Joe McGinty and David Terhune, and a basically non-Christmas sounding record, much of which can you may want to listen to all year.

Of course, you will also hear an unlikely arrangement of Dr. Seuss's Welcome Christmas, an R&B/rock rendering of the title track, the retro and quite listenable I Want an Alien for Christmas, and a dozen other slightly over-the-top Kustard Kings holiday stylings

Urban Ambiance Journal

One the holiday releases from Confidential Recordings, The Kustard Kings' A Kustard Kristmas is the hardest rocking of the bunch. The album kicks off nicely with "Christmas Time is Here Again" and "Holly Jolly Christmas/We Are Santa's Elves," played with a nice rock-lounge edge. The cover of Fountains of Wayne's "I Want an Alien for Christmas" has a similar rocking feel, a throwback to 60s rock-and-roll that still captures the contemporary college rock vibe. The Kings' harder rocking tunes are enjoyable, but on the other hand, "Christmas Night in Harlem" is such an aural assault, playing it as background music might disrupt the party. Among the slower grooving tracks is "3 Ho's," a funky synth-rock original. Other originals include the quirky "Santa's Favorite Helper," whose random computer-like background noises give the illusion that the base rhythm is generated by Hal and "Snow Globe Symphonette," a standard rock track that manages to have just a touch of that holiday flavor.

The overall sound of A Kustard Kristmas isn't …straightforward. Instead, the Kings switch between funk, lounge, and rock to create one of the more unique instrumental holiday albums in recent memory. It manages to be different but not offensive to the senses. It's good, solid material that may not interest those that can't appreciate anything non-traditional when it comes to Christmas music, but it will certainly grab the ears of those that want a little funk with their Yule log and egg nog.

The Press of Atlantic City

Straight from the New York underground, this talented bunch of exciting, innovative musicians, including former resident Joe McGinty of keyboards, give their quirky, artistic interpretations of Christmas standards and a few neat originals.

Think of Fountains of Wayne crossed with The Meters and you get an idea this is not your typical Christmas album. And with songs like "3 Ho's," "I Want An Alien For Christmas," and "U Sleigh Me," you get an idea of the avant-garde strangeness you'll find here. Certainly not your typical Christmas album - and that's a good thing.

Reviewed by laze

If Santa listened to rockin', funky lounge music, he'd have the Kings playing live in his workshop. Groove on, fool!