This column has mentioned Simple Machines’ “Working Holiday” project more than once, so it won’t run down the 22 tracks on the new Working Holiday CD, which compiles all but three tunes (Bratmobile, Swirlies, and one of Jonny Cohen’s two) from that yearlong one-single-a-month marathon. The Holiday CD, however, is available in two forms. The second, advertised as a limited edition, features 16 live tracks from the Working Holiday three-day-weekend fest the Machinists threw in January to culminate the endeavor; included are strong performances from Danielle Howle, the Coctails, Pitchblende, Eggs, Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Tsunami, Franklin Bruno, Versus, and others. (Of the bands that performed, Jawbox, Swirlies, and Small Factory are not represented.)
The CD’s playability would have been somewhat enhanced by the elimination of the MC’s rambling, bellowing introductions, but they’re part of the you-are-there ambience, which is underscored by an extensive account of both the recording and the performing Holiday concepts, complete with pressing-plant statistics and other minutiae. Some of the liner-note anecdotes (the duplicitous Liz Phair, the near-magical postage meter) threaten to upstage the music, but it’s all part of the label’s continuing quest to balance what gets made with how it gets made. To order either the one- or two-disc Holiday, write Simple Machines, P.O. Box 10290, Arlington, VA 22210-1290.