I’m not particularly proactive when it comes to holiday traditions. While I’m partial to a Thanksgiving dinner, I’m certainly not going to prepare it. Though I’m fond of Christmas lights and decorations, I don’t know that I’ve ever bought any. For the most part, I rely on those around me (*cough* my wife *cough*) to take care of these things. But there is one festive task that I’ve been known to take into my own hands: Christmas music. Every year, as December rolls along, I dig through my iTunes to find the right music for the season and, these last few years, I keep landing on Detroit’s own Empty Houses.
Combining contemporary pop with classic Motown sensibilities, Empty Houses sound like exactly zero other active bands. Their debut full-length, 2016’s Daydream, layers bouncy horn arrangements over a lush full-band sound before Ali Shea’s absolutely gorgeous vocals are draped over the whole thing. It’s a top notch pop record.
The band’s inherent style and what seems to be a natural aptitude for arrangement make Empty Houses a perfect candidate to create dynamite Christmas tunes which, happily enough, is exactly what they did with a five-song EP appropriately named Holiday. (A quick aside to point out that “Falling Away” from Daydream isn’t technically a Christmas song but does sound like it could have been used during a montage in Love Actually. Like I said, this band is perfectly-designed for the holidays.)
All five tracks of Holiday are fantastic and while I’d probably cite “Let It Snow” as my favorite, it’s the release’s second track where Empty Houses have really done the impossible: They’ve made an honest-to-God enjoyable version of the ever-grating “Santa Baby”, a feat previously thought to be beyond the capabilities of mankind. So put on your warmest socks, grab a mug of cocoa and turn on Holiday. You may not have decorated the tree but at least you’ll have helped to set the mood.