The end of a year is traditionally a time when the number of good new releases starts to dwindle down. It seems to The Ghost that 2017 still has some good music left in it.
A certain amount of the good releases at the end of the year will be Christmas related songs; the first four of the ten tracks fall into that category. It’s a charming duet between Trey Johnson and Becky Middleton called “It’s a Boy”. The Ghost is a big fan of both artists, so it’s no surprise I’m digging this track.
Austin based band Sharks in the Deep End released a track last season called “Don’t Be a Jerk This Christmas”. This year, the group opts for heartfelt instead of humorous with “Gift in the Attic”. Not many Christmas songs venture into heartbreak territory, but these Sharks know how to deliver a bite with their lyrics.
What do you give the ska fan in your life who has everything? Perhaps they don’t have the two new Christmas songs released by The Holophonics. The band tackles “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in a far smoother delivery than I would have expected. Still, the winner is the ever fun “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.
Classifying the next song as a Christmas track is a stretch. Still, I Happy Am does a very delightful cover of the 1970’s hit “Magic” by Pilot. For those not familiar with I Happy Am, it’s the project for Rebekkah Elizabeth, best known for her work with Mean Motor Scooter. While this cover is a lot fun, I particularly recommend checking out I Happy Am’s The Prophet, The Giant, and the Invisible Man; that’s where the real magic is.
Vowels can be overrated. Just ask the guys in MNKR, formerly known as Moniker. Regardless of their feelings about vowels and consonants, the band has put out a solid new album called Stalemate. My favorite track, “Black Lines”, demonstrate’s their ability to create a sound equally gritty and poppy.
How is that I’ve never managed to see Polystarra as of yet? The Ghost has a particular weak spot for both post-punk and new wave, and the band straddles the fence between the two genres quite nicely, and that’s no “Joke”.
For those not yet familiar with Motorcade, the group has a most impressive local music pedigree, featuring Andrew Huffstettler (Baboon), John Dufilho (Deathray Davies, Cantina), James Henderson (Legendary Crystal Chandelier), and Jeff Ryan (Pleasant Grove). If you’re expecting the band to sound like the sum of its parts, you’ll likely be a bit bewildered. The result is less heavy than one might expect, but the melodies are absolutely spot on, as is evident on the below track, “Desertion”.
I discovered Solid State Dream Suit through a post by Tomkat, who played a show recently with the Austin based. SSDS complements Tomkat’s vibe quite nicely, with their mellow band of catchy electronica. Check out “Crowd Controller” if this sounds appealing to you (which it should).
I’ve been noticing the name Zedidiah Word popping up a bit lately, but did not take the time to listen attentively until this past week. I’m glad I did, as Zedidiah demonstrates a real gift for witty, intelligent lyrics with bite. This is best demonstrated on the title track of his new album, Revelations. Favorite line: “I know someday I’ll have to meet my maker/I just hope it’s on a Sunday with all the fakers”.
Finally, The Gibbonses have released An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories, a new live recording featuring such favorites off of Among the Rubble as “Tough as Nails” and “Keep On Keepin’ On”. In addition, they feature “One for Me”, a track that has become a live staple for the band. Yes, there’s a long spoken word part at the beginning, but keep listening. This is a simple yet beautifully powerful track.