Weekly staff picks: Something to listen to for the holiday season

If you’re like me and you’re home for winter break, spending most of your time away from your folks even though you’re staying in their house (thanks for moving into my old room, Mom…), some music to relax to can be some real fun. Additionally, some of this is real good to listen to while you walk through your hometown and get surprised by the amount of cool lots you used to hang out in that are now being turned into something besides cool empty lots. I can’t imagine what they’re putting behind the movie theater, but I don’t like it.

First up is the relatively new Stiletto Feels track, “Steal Your Guitar.” This song exemplifies the exact opposite of holiday cheer, having been inspired by the real world adventures of Stiletto Feels’ lead Geoffrey Earle. If you pretend you’re in an opposite world, you can use this song as a Holiday How-To, gift guitars, don’t screw people out of rent money, etc.

I’m pushing the envelope here with a San Marcos artist, but a cursory search on Google will tell you that San Marcos is in the Austin – Round Rock – San Marcos Metropolitan Area, so I think I’m good. This track, “Echo,” is Kevin Abstract‘s (of breakout San Marcos group BROCKHAMPTON) newest song. It’s about, in some senses, coming home and remembering the past year.

Tele Novella‘s “Christmas Spirit” is a pretty straightforward, albeit morbid, Christmas song off the new Snowflakes 45s compilation. Lots of cheery talk about the Christmas spirit definitely gets you in the mood, but every now and then you’re jarred by the explicit mention of the unlawful dead.

Another Tele Novella song from the Snowflakes 45s compilation, “Purple Snowflakes,” is a really smooth Marvin Gaye cover that’s really evocative of Gaye’s style, but with a definite distinction and modern atmosphere.

Austin’s YUMA performs their “Loglo” next. “Loglo” is about exhaustion resultant from cynicism and about how nice it would be to set aside problems for just a bit and have some cool down time. That’s what I think of when I’m hanging out by the ol’ tenenbaum with a hot cup of apple cider. I can worry about school and the presidential election again on Dec. 26.

Shivery Shakes‘ “Temporary Vacation” is also about taking a quick break, getting quickly boozed up and having a good time. While obviously a summer-oriented surf rock party tune, it’s applicable to the holiday season. I know lots of you are probably working on Christmas eve, and you’re probably pissed about it, but think about how good it will feel to drive home to this, sit down in your dark house or apartment by yourself and fire up the TV. Or sleep.

Gary Clarke Jr.‘s “Please Come Home” relays a sentiment held by many this time of year. Lots of folks at home feel like they’re missing some people that should be there with them. Whether it’s a girlfriend, boyfriend, sibling in the armed forces or somebody who’s still away at school, there’s people all over wishing they could appease the morose Gary Clarke and Alice Smith, the latter of the two being featured on the track.

Local Austin group Summer Salt is really good at what it does. Smooth, very pretty vocals and soft but certainly melodic instrumentals combine to relay a retro sound. They’re self-described on their bandcamp as doowop, and I think that’s very accurate. This song, titled “Time Away From Home,” is yet another track that fits into the theme I’ve got going on here. Poor guy just wants to get home, like many of us this holiday season. I hope you have an easy commute.

The final track on this playlist, titled “Closing Prayer,” is one that I feel is suitably somber. The melancholy of the track is mirrored by the group’s name, Sad Accordions. The end of the year is an important time, and while it’s sad for some and lots of fun for others, the general consensus is that the coming year can be a lot to handle. It’s good to take some time to slow down and think about what you need.