No Turkeys Allowed

Our annual holiday shopping guide to recent local releases

Runaway Sun, The Bridge: "How can whiskey be so clear?" asks Runaway Sun front man Andrew Karnavas alongside lead guitarist Daniel de Luna's fiery licks on "Miss Whiskey." Good question, and the Houston quartet's debut LP The Bridge just might contain a few answers. "Whiskey" is about as rock and roll as The Bridge gets; the rest is a much jazzier affair, ideal for puzzling over the idiosyncrasies of the human heart while nursing the amber on the rocks of your choice at some dimly lit dive.

The Umbrella Man, The Umbrella Man: If your holiday shopping list includes a musical map of modern Houston (and not-so-modern Houston), the Umbrella Man's debut disc has got you covered. Shouting out Sig Byrd — Google him, kids — and Metro's "Crosstown 42" line, The Umbrella Man spans Montrose to Midtown, the East End to Second Ward as bassist/vocalist Nick Gaitan's five-man, one-woman musical crew proves what an international city Houstonreally is.

Fancy a wild-eyed gypsy bolero? Here's "Mind's in Misery." A boisterous rockabilly/cumbia mash-up? Here's "Keep It on the Move." Old-fashioned gospel or honky-tonk? There's "Carry Me Away," with Kam Franklin doing her best Mavis Staples, and "Neptune's on the Bayou," respectively. We could go on and on, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention there's two versions of Gaitan's love letter to "The Island" at 3700 Main, the second complete with Sideshow Tramps bard Craig Kinsey on harmonica.

Bonus trivia question: Where are the beginning and endpoints of "Crosstown 42"?

Where to find these artists (and their work) online:

A Dream Asleep:

Crossing Togo:

The Factory Party:

Football, etc.:

Robert Earl Keen:

The Live Lights:

Lyle Lovett:

The Rafters:

Runaway Sun:

The Umbrella Man:

Now see them live...

A Dream Asleep: Sunday, December 6, White Swan

Football, etc.: Monday, January 4, the Mink

Robert Earl Keen: Monday, December 28,House of Blues

The Live Lights: Friday, December 18, the Mink

Runaway Sun: Friday, December 4, Avant Garden

The Umbrella Man: Tuesdays, Continental Club; Sunday, December 6, Meridian

(Trivia answer: Metro's "Crosstown 42" line begins at Lovett and Yoakum in the Montrose and terminates at the Fifth Ward/Denver Harbor Transit Center. Or vice versa.)

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