I might have mentioned previously that I'm sort of Scrooge McDuck when it comes to holiday music, much to the chagrin of the people around me. No, you won't hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" echoing from the speakers of my office (or, rather, the corner of the dining room where I house my computer). Instead, you'll hear the same sad, indie music you hear year 'round from this gal. Who needs "Little Drummer Boy" when you have "Westfall", am I right? Okay, maybe no one agrees with me. Regardless, if there's one thing Michigan is good for, other than producing a ton of amazing folk music, it's Suburban Sprawl, the yearly compilation that finds local Michigan artists contributing winter-themed songs that don't make me want to kick babies!
You can get the whole compilation at the above link, or you can just right click and save my two personal favorites...
On "Town of Glass", Lightning Love's third contribution to the Suburban Sprawl compilation series, the Ypsi kids do nothing less than give The Shins a run for their money with lackadaisically charming music and harmonies that would make anyone who specializes in male-female duets turn an attentive ear towards their speakers. Lyrically, the song is perfectly in step with lead singer Leah Diehl's past winter themed songs: You won't find anything Christmas cookie sweet here. Diehl focuses on the kind of winter I know best, the kind devoid of holiday cheer, instead singing lines like "Winter's not so nice here anymore, I wish things would go back the way they were before." Season depression? You're talkin' my language, Leah!
Personally, my favorite part of this tune is that guitarist Ben Collins seems to be taking the male vocals, whereas Diehl's brother, drummer Aaron, was the dude voice present on Lightning Love's debut, November Birthday.
Don't be fooled by this "Sylvan Lanes" nonesense. The moniker is not only the name of a Detroit metro bowling alley but is also an alias for Matt Milia, frontman of RFC favorite Frontier Ruckus. It'll come as no surprise to anyone who knows me and my predilection for sad songs that this song, like "A Town Of Glass" before it, is less focused on the magic of Christmas than it is the intense loneliness and heartbreak the season can cause. Blame it on Michigan's dour weather, I guess.
Part of the appeal of "Christmas From A Deadmall", for me, lies in the fact that Milia, on this song, is doing what he does best: Name checking the landmarks of youth. From radio station 100.3 to Somerset mall, "Christmas From A Deadmall" plays out like a narrative of my adolescence, just like the rest of Frontier Ruckus's discography does, anchoring itself in the sad scenery of Detroit and it's surrounding suburbs. It's doubtless that Arcade Fire's The Suburbs is nothing less than a perfect soundtrack to life in the sprawl but for those of us with Detroit in our heart, Frontier Ruckus is unshakably perfect.
As for my favorite Christmas song that doesn't have roots in my homestate, check this gem out...