Local musicians are embracing the holiday with a slew of fresh releases. Here are a few noteworthy new offerings.
The Rocket Summer, ‘Christmas Madness’
Grapevine-based singer-songwriter Bryce Avary, who performs as the Rocket Summer, has some fun with the Yuletide season on the four-track Christmas Madness EP. From the money-is-too-tight chaos of the title track to the surprisingly poignant Grapevine Christmas Eve, Avary manages to encapsulate not only the insanity the holidays can inspire, but also the need to pause and reflect on what really matters. There’s even time for a stripped-down, earnest cover of O Holy Night. This is a Madness you should happily make time for.
Ronnie Fauss, ‘Everybody Deserves a Merry Christmas’
Dallas troubadour Ronnie Fauss has had a strong 2013, thanks to the release of his national debut, I Am the Man You Know I’m Not, and he’s closing out the year with this rollicking single, a rowdy tribute to those who slip up every now and again (“It don’t matter what stupid things you’ve done,” Fauss reminds us in the sing-along chorus). Everybody Deserves a Merry Christmas comes off like a strong shot of whiskey amid so many saccharine Christmas tunes.
Lindby, ‘Christmas on My Street’
Arlington indie rock quintet Lindby isn’t interested in a conventional collection of Christmas tunes. For its second holiday EP in as many years, there’s a track drawing inspiration from Doctor Who ( Timey Wimey Christmas), a Bach composition rendered on a synthesizer ( Jesu, Joy of Synth) and a pair of original tunes, one of which ( Lights on a String) features some impressive, nuanced vocal work from Ali Grant. Not every seasonal batch of songs needs to be reverent, and Christmas on My Street is a nice reminder.
Folk Angel, ‘All the Earth Rejoice: Christmas Songs Vol. 5’
Dallas foursome Folk Angel is one of the area’s most reliable purveyors of aural good cheer, as the band is now on its fifth installment of Christmas songs. All the Earth Rejoice features many familiar works — We Three Kings, Away in a Manger, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Jingle Bells — as well as several guest stars (Lauren Chandler, Sleeperstar and Charlie Hall, among others). Polished and full of exquisite singing, Folk Angel’s Yuletide offering is an ideal accompaniment to a roaring fire and hanging the stockings by the chimney with care.
Fort Worth singer-songwriter Matt Jones, fresh from the release of his debut LP, Songbird Jones, has teamed with his bandmate Sam Mason to fashion this five-track EP, produced by Salim Nourallah. (The disc also features contributions from John Dufilho, Paul Slavens, Camille Cortinas and Becky Middleton.) A terrific blend of rock and country, with Jones’ pleasant voice threading through cuts like Empty Tree (All I Want for Christmas) or I’m Leaving Santa Lonestar, the album is a winning dose of cheer.
Dead Flowers, ‘A Lot Like Xmas’
Sometimes, you just want some gritty guitar to cut through the cutesy Christmas clutter. Dallas rockers Dead Flowers are happy to provide some edge with their holiday single A Lot Like Xmas, which deploys sleigh bells behind vocals that hint at seasonal alienation and loneliness (“Oh my dear/I wish you were here”), as the guitars chug and grind away over a steady backbeat. Not every song can be as cheerful as a Christmas card, after all.
Online: facebook.com/deadflowers band
Cozy Hawks, ‘[Expletive], It’s Xmas’
Denton trio Cozy Hawks has fashioned a single straddling the line between respectful and rip-roaring raw. [Expletive], It’s Xmas acknowledges the need for booze to mellow things out during this stressful season, but it also weaves in a woozy take on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to remind everyone, however crazed things get, to pause and be glad for good tidings.