Executive producer Little Steven gives the latest Tim Allen holiday caper, Christmas With the Kranks, a garage rock revival makeover. The esteemed DJ/New Jersey gangster/musician arranged and produced six of the 12 cuts, which range from girl group splendor (the Charms' charming rendition of "Frosty the Snowman") to the Ravi Shankar-meets-Phil Spector wall of sitars and strings that permeates Tina Sugandh's lush "White Christmas." Also included are originals by the Raveonettes (the punch-drunk, vibrato-filled "Christmas Song") and the Ramones ("Merry Christmas [I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight]"), which along with the Brian Setzer Orchestra's rousing "Nutcracker Suite" are among the record's best bets for a long night chasing mistletoe. Christmas With the Kranks is surprising to say the least, and its fresh take on the genre is fun without being cloying, resulting in a road trip-worthy collection of holiday favorites meriting an extra mile or two.
James Christopher Monger, Rovi