Ho-Ho-Local: A roundup of the best area holiday music

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Every year, local musicians get into the spirit of the season with covers of classic songs, as well as originals that get to the heart of the holiday. We’ve scoured the web to find you some of the finest music to soundtrack your holidays. Be it indie-pop, jump boogie or smooth R&B, your tastes are covered this Christmas.

Sam BillenJolly Time!

The synth-y dance-pop of the Prince Network’s opener “It’s Snowing Inside” sets the stage for Sam Billen’s latest holiday installment. It’s low-key music of a rather pretty nature, and seems like it’s best-suited to a Christmas Eve celebration with kitschy cocktails and friends. Jolly Time! is free to download, but if you choose to throw a few bucks in as thanks, all proceeds get donated to water.org.

Recommended track: The crazily-layered “Nativity Costume (2000 Year’s Eve)” by Half-handed Cloud.

David George & A Crooked Mile Christmas Ain’t A Drag

It’s a boogie-woogie Christmas show from David George & A Crooked Mile. With ten original songs to soundtrack a live show at the Madrid Theater, George and company really reach for the stars. The songs are upbeat and swinging, and manage to marry jump blues with a hint of Americana without feeling forced. The horn section also lends everything a sound that lets “Christmas Ain’t A Drag” get really big.

Recommended track: The louche, cocktail lounge swing of “What’s A Naughty Girl to Do?”

David Simmons Just Me: Christmas

Looking at the track listing, you might think that Just Me: Christmas is going to be a rather standard Christmas album. Such is not the case, thankfully. David Simmons takes seven classic songs and livens them up with some Kirk Franklin R&B style. Simmons’ voice is warm and inviting, and by combining R&B with a bit of doo-wop harmonizing, these recordings revitalize quite a few tired tracks, creating what might be our new favorite versions.

Recommended track: “God Rest Ye Three Kings,” which combines two well-known songs into a masterful piece of New Jack Swing.


The Perfect ThingsA Perfect Christmas

This EP from the duo of the Perfect Things is your whiskey drinking next to the fire kind of music. A Perfect Christmas might not provide any surprises, but the lo-fi approach lets those vocals shine through. It’s a wise production decision, because the lonesome sadness which comes through in Sarah Dolt and Stephen Berry’s vocals is what makes this little collection worth your listen.

Recommended track: “Santa Baby” has all the treacly sexuality stripped from it, creating a crying in your beer take that’s hauntingly pretty.



Lucky LuxuryA Christmas 45 to Pay the Rent

“Telephone Call” is the inverse of the Perfect Things: while that duo took upbeat songs and made them downtempo, Lucky Luxury’s ska bounce is a catchy, dancy song with depressing lyrics. It is damned catchy, regardless of the message, and definitely ought to help pay the man’s rent this holiday season. We wish this 45 had a flipside, though.

Bran Cerddorion Season of Change

The pagan folk of singer-songwriter Bran Cerddorion is suited to these songs which are about the solstice, the celebration to which we owe much of our seasonal traditions. The three tracks here cover a variety of themes, be it the Christmas-critiquing “‘Tis the Season to Spend Money” or getting to the heart of the equinox with “The Slumberlands.” Even “We Can’t Hold Hands When We’re Pointing Fingers,” while not explicitly related to the season, manages to get to the heart of the holidays by suggesting mindful thoughts.

Recommended track: “Tis the Season to Spend Money” manages to make its point with humor, rather than being overly critical.

The Snow GlobesMilk and Cookies

Would it be a proper Christmas in Kansas City without new music from the only band 100% dedicated to the music of the season? We think not. The thoughtful folk of the Snow Globes always makes for a novel take on holiday music, and the Milk and Cookies EP is no exception. It’s a little short, but given the band’s extensive back catalog, you’ll not be hurting for music when you’re unwrapping presents. The EP isn’t embedable, but you can preview two songs at their website or buy it on iTunes.

Recommended track: The sweetly nostalgic title track.

Bonus cut: We interviewed Dustin Cates, creative director of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, about their Kansas City Christmas. Here’s “Text Me Merry Christmas” from this year’s show.

If you have any local music we’ve missed, post it in the comments below.

Categories: Music