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PENTATONIX TO DARIUS RUCKER: REVIEWS OF NEW CHRISTMAS ALBUMS IN 2014

SUN-TIMES on December 7, 2014

As Christmas seasons go, this has been a so-so one for holiday music, with no superstar releases or crossover megahits. But there still are respectable acts stringing garlands in the studio and putting out albums they hope will sell for years to come. Here are reviews of this year’s top holiday releases.

Pentatonix, “That’s Christmas to Me”

Home Free, “Full of Cheer”

The last two champs of NBC’s a cappella derby “The Sing Off” both have new holiday discs, and one is the season’s hottest new set of carols. Pentatonix’s “That’s Christmas to Me” has topped Billboard’s holiday albums chart for six weeks straight, fueled by a popular, powerful cover of “Mary, Did You Know?” The group’s a worthy winner, pleasing and never overpowering on standards including “Sleigh Ride” and “Silent Night.” And the singers make interesting choices here, adding Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” (“I was following the pack …” etc. etc.) to the Christmas canon and weaving “Winter Wonderland” with (ready for this?) “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” They’re head and heels above the corny, country-fried Home Free, who churn the songs through busy, gimmicky arrangements worthy of Andy Bernard. —Darel Jevens

NOTE: The 2015 Pentatonix tour comes to the Chicago Theatre on March 8-9. Tickets are on sale at ticketmaster.com.