Two delightful surprises that just couldn’t wait til tomorrow’s round-up, both from the world of what is not-so-affectionately known as “dad-rock”. First, there’s the absolutely immaculate (!) first taste of Mbird fave Nick Lowe’s forthcoming Christmas record, “I Was Born In Bethlehem,” an offertory in the making if I’ve ever heard one. The song is the product of Nick imagining what it would be like to encounter Jesus in the seat next to him on an airplane and asking, “So, what do you do?” USA Today, who debuted the track yesterday described it as, “the kind of plainspoken retelling of the Nativity that [Nick’s one-time father-in-law] Johnny Cash might have enjoyed, humanizing Jesus but never diminishing him.” Favorite line is the final one: “I’ve done what I can/To be there when a man/can’t find a friend/I was born in Bethlehem”.

Secondly, the great Grunge-father in the sky must have read our Nirvana tribute–why else would he smile on us as sweetly as he has with the new Pearl Jam single, “Sirens.” Mortality has inspired a number of Eddie Vedder’s finest songs over the years, and this one ranks right up there with the very best, even if it sounds dangerously Coldplay-ish in parts. But Eddie proves he can still tingle spines with that inimitable voice of his, especially when given lines like: “If I think too much/ I can get over-/whelmed by the grace by which we live/ our lives with death over our shoulders.”