Christmas in Reno (Burger)
Reno has long served as a geographic punchline to jokes about towns down on their luck. So fittingly, this Christmas album named after the Nevada city is a dark exercise in holiday hopelessness. In her seasonal release, Cassie Ramone, the former frontwoman of the well-regarded indie punk bands Vivian Girls and the Babies, pulverizes the Christmas canon. With her aphasic vocals and feedback-drenched guitars, Ramone takes the perennially upbeat “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and turns it into an ear-rattling carol, fit for being stranded at an airport bar in late December. Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” gets the Dimetapp treatment. By the end of the two-minute track, the lyrics have become indecipherable through Ramone’s slurred vocals and the maxed-out reverb of the recording. Perhaps only “Run Run Rudolph” emerges unscathed. Ramone pleasantly transfigures the song into a hazy gossamer of shoegazer rock. Despite its jarring juxtapositions, the album is built around the catchy guitar hooks Ramone is known for. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a Christmas road trip to a holiday gathering no one wants to attend.
— Casey Sanchez