Wonderlux Home Listen to the Music Press Release Video A Go-Go|Buy Online|Contact
rule br

reviews.......... “My dream Xmas album; killer stuff” – Robert Rodriguez, celebrated filmmaker

American Songwriter/Album Review
Wonderlux: Wonderlux Presents Christmas Eve
Written By Hal Horowitz

Instrumental rock and roll Christmas albums are a rarity in the overstuffed turkey world of holiday music. Add surf, spaghetti western, lounge, and gangster film noir to that and you’ve narrowed the already slim category down to...well, this.

Wonderlux isn’t a band as much as an aggregation of musicians assembled by producer Brad Benedict (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) and bassist/rhythm guitarist Mark Fontana (The Blue Hawaiians). Together they take some yuletide favorites such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “O Holy Night” and drag them into a dingy, smoke filled night club where Santa Claus is private eye Philip Marlowe in disguise and Mrs. Claus is transformed into the sleazed out personification of the femme fatale from every 50s hard-boiled detective B movie.

They’ve hijacked Santa’s sled to the wrong side of town where the flickering neon lights are dim, the dames are loose and danger lurks behind every trash strewn corner. If the Sin City films took place during the last week of December, this would be their soundtrack. It’s a town without pity as the guitars turn the reverb up to 11, the drums pound looking for a lost wave and the kids are safely locked away from a world where elves aren’t welcome.

Song titles such as “Snowballs & Highballs” (loosely inspired by “Greensleeves”), “Yuletide Moon” (with bits of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”) and “A Nightmare on Elf Street” (a less than holy borrowing of “O Holy Night”) set the stage for this crazy, creative walk on the wild side of Jesus’ birthday. It won’t take long into the opening track to nuzzle up to the black and white, shadowy mood as angelic voices are interrupted by throbbing bass and drums with a guitar and growling baritone sax out of the strip club of your nightmares grinding away. Mix your eggnog with a straight shot of Tom Waits in his Blue Valentines/Nighthawks at the Diner guise and stroll down Heart Attack and Vine looking for a lump of coal to coat your candy canes as “It Came from the North Pole” blasts through your bones with its tough blues guitar strut. And once you hear how demonic the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” becomes as it mutates into “Tinseltown Nocturne,” you’ll never think of that once innocuous tune the same way again.

It goes without saying that this won’t be the go-to album for Christmas day in most homes. But when you’re nursing that post-25th hangover and need music to take down the sagging tree and throw out the torn wrapping paper, it’s tough to imagine anything more appropriate. With its built in retro swagger, ominous organ and rain swept 4-AM vibe, Wonderlux’s Christmas Eve is the accompaniment for those who understand that The Nightmare Before Christmas is more than just the title to a seasonal flick.


Stubby's House of Christmas/Album Review
The Wonder of Wonderlux
Written by Stubby

Wonderlux Presents Christmas Eve
Surf instrumentals with a funky Noir Lounge twist; very cool.

Before going any further, let me say that "Christmas Eve" by Wonderlux is one of the highlights of this particular Christmas music season and you really need to check it out for yourself.

There's very little out there about Wonderlux. What I do know is that they've hit upon a formula that sets them apart from other Surf Rock and/or Neo-Swing bands. Because its kinda both and then some. There's definitely a noir feel, a bit of Exotica and, though I never thought there was such a thing, I immediately found myself thinking of Wonderlux as a Surf Lounge band. Now that's weird, because Surf and Lounge are basically on opposite ends of that retro spectrum. It's all very Saturday night B-Movie, if you ask me. And I mean that in a good way. It's cool as hell, whatever it is.

The concept is the same throughout the record--take an original riff and mash it up with a Christmas standard--and it works amazingly well. You've got that original melody that you know so well, but then you've got this other thing going on in and all around it so that the package comes out sounding like a different thing entirely.

Anyway, it's cool and I dig it and I'm guessing a lot of other folks will, too. "Snowballs & Highballs" was my personal favorite, though I can't say enough good things about "It Came From The North Pole" and "Mistletoe A Go-Go" either. And for those of you who like putting together Christmas music mixes suitable for Halloween (and you know who you are), "Christmas Eve" is going to be very useful for you.

Here's the bottom line...it's freaking brilliant!

rule w

JamBase/Album Review
Wonderlux Presents "Christmas Eve"
Written by Aaron Stein

Another great addition to the holiday genre is the brand new Christmas Eve from Wonderlux. This is an all-instrumental album of kind of surf and garage rock arrangements. There’s some real inventiveness as they take familiar and not-so-familiar classics and cross-cut them with some serious reverbed groove. I like how they take a single song as a foundation and then build with riffs from other Christmas songs and their own tangential vamping. Lots of fun for your seasonal gathering playlist.

Los Angeles Times/Album Review
A Jingle for Your Jangle: The Christmas Albums You Need
Written by Randy Lewis

Seasonal tunes get a sly, instrumental re-fashioning with
Wonderlux Presents 'Christmas Eve.'

The Soundtrack Of The Holidays.
Often, the annual holiday tradition that is Christmas music is rooted in nostalgia--a recycling and an update of the familiar. This year, however, the season’s holiday releases are rather broad in scope and genres. Perhaps the time has never been better to liven up your holiday library.

Wonderlux, “Wonderlux Presents Christmas Eve.”
This project from producer-arrangers Brad Benedict and Mark Fontana could be accused of horning in on Brian Setzer’s retro rockabilly swing slant on the holidays--if the results weren’t so much sheer fun. Lots of twangy, reverb-drenched guitars and sly quotes of rock and pop hits enliven the instrumental re-fashioning of “Greensleeves,” Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” “O Holy Night” and other holiday classics.

santa orm

Music Direct/Album Review
'Christmas Eve' by Wonderlux

Christmas is all about tradition. For some, that may mean the resurrection of a secret family cookie recipe, or the continued use of a fuzzy Frosty the Snowman ornament once chewed by the family puppy. Holidays aren't necessarily about change. They're about our childhoods, families, and fond memories. These remembrances often come with a soundtrack. Christmas songs, though only in season a few weeks per year, remain ingrained in many of us. We remember the elegance of a Bing Crosby or a Frank Sinatra, the warmth of an Elvis Presley and the goofiness of the Chipmunks. Yet every year, without fail, artists try to upend tradition--or become a part of it. If you feel your Christmas music needs a refresh, this recent holiday album could become a yearly staple--Wonderlux Presents 'Christmas Eve.'

While Santa is traversing chimneys, the more unsavory parts of town are also trying to get into the holiday spirit. Enter Wonderlux, a Christmas album for the black-and-white holiday-themed film noir that was never made. Over the course of seven tracks and about 40 minutes, the group assembled by producer Brad Benedict and multi-instrumentalist Mark Fontana create a work fit for dive bars the world over. The guitars possess a surf-rock edge--they're a little bluesy, a little rocking, and definitely loud. Some songs, such as "A Nightmare On Elf Street/O Holy Night," are borderline creepy, with patient, stalking xylophone chimes and a strut worthy of a James Bond film. Others, such as "Swell Noel/Good King Wenceslas," seem more uplifting--that is, if thunderous rolling rhythms and turned-up-to-11 guitars translate into optimism.

Music & More/Album Review
New Christmas Music
Written by William Kates

Although I've already listened to nearly fifty new Christmas albums, this morning I heard some really interesting stuff.

Wonderlux - Christmas Eve
A 60s retro guitar band that just might be one of the cooler releases this year.

My first impression upon hearing this album sight unseen was that the electric guitar versions of the Christmas repertoire had definite 60s surf influences and it sounded like a cross between Los Straitjackets' Christmas album and Southern Culture On the Skids. Oh, and that Wonderlux had just made one of the coolest releases of the season. So it was not entirely a surprise to learn that Wonderlux is an aggregation of musicians working with producers Brad Benedict (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) and Mark Fontana (The Blue Hawaiians). I wasn't familiar with the Blue Hawaiians but apparently Fontana was the founding member and they had released a Christmas album back in 1995 entitled "Christmas On Big Island." Additionally, the Wonderlux press release gives this description:

Some of the holiday season’s most beloved traditional carols will have music fans stirring with delight as “A Nightmare On Elf Street” and “It Came From The North Pole” are among new interpretations of seasonal songs on Christmas Eve. Guitar-driven instrumentals featuring horns, percussion, “curious keyboards” and “opera exotica,” these originals include elements of surf, psychedelic, lounge, rock, spaghetti western, exotica, a-go-go, film noir, mysterioso and blues that bring dramatic flair and an edgy mood to the sounds of Christmas.

All of the musicians who played on Christmas Eve are exceptional, especially the two guitarists Phil Gough and Marcus Watkins. I also have to say that the drum sound on this album is amazing. I found this album, in it's entirety, to be totally delightful and I can also predict with confidence that the concert style ending to "Mistletoe A Go-Go" will put a smile on your face.

Listen to: "Tinseltown Nocturne/Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", "It Came From The North Pole/We Wish You A Merry Christmas", and "Mistletoe A Go-Go/Silent Night"

Mistletunes/Album Review
Wonderlux "Christmas Eve" (Wonderlux Music)
Written by Rudolph

Surf guitar instrumentals, once the toast of the rock scene in the mid-60s, now are the subject of much cult adulation, particularly in Europe. Although "surf" might be a misnomer, in that the Ventures are the real granddaddies of this style. In the general pop culture, the sound most often pokes its head up in movie soundtracks (see the Dick Dale revival brought to us in the soundtrack to "Pulp Fiction"), so it's fun to hear it pop up in the Christmas realm. In this case, the folks who bring it to us for 2016 are Mark Fontana of the Blue Hawaiians, with the help of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's producer Brad Benedict. Just like the Ventures, they play one thing and throw in snippets of another for seasoning. The one thing you might not expect in this style is that the play times for the individual cuts are longish, in the 4.5-6-minute zone, but that's because most cuts feature multiple songs, as in "Yuletide Moon/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/O Little Town of Bethlehem." Some of these titles appear to be originals grafted onto familiar tunes, as in "A Nightmare on Elf Street/O Holy Night," which starts with the familiar hymn and backtracks into something more Halloween-sounding in nature. It's not all twang; some string sweetening and female vocal choruses sneak in to build tension, but the twangy vibrato guitars and pounding drums return to the forefront soon enough. Things wrap up with "Mistletoe a Go-Go/Silent Night," which I highlight because I'm always up for alternate takes on this frequently played, but oh-so-solemn carol. This is a gotta-have for your holiday playlists, and there are enough liberties taken that you won't feel silly playing it in the summer.

girl on hood