Courtesy of Bandcamp

Big Heaven, the pop-rock project of singer-guitarist Amanda Hand, is dropping a little stocking stuffer of a track on Christmas Eve, releasing a re-recorded version of “Pearls,” a track from the band’s 2018 debut EP, Strike a Match. The original recording, engineered and mastered at Cloudland Recording Studios, is three minutes of distorted, low-fi pop goodness, and while the new version keeps the original’s distorted crunch, it seems way wilder. It’s a live recording that sounds like it was captured during a rehearsal, but in doing so, Big Heaven underlines one of its main appeals: the scrappy punch of its live performances. It’s raw and earnest and proudly wears the scribbly solo near the end like a Bikini Kill patch on an old backpack. If you have to spend time with disagreeable relatives over Christmas, you’ll want to have this on hand (with a stiff drink in the other) because it’s a cathartic blast from the past. — Steve Steward


Zombi and Friends’ Nightmare Holiday Special

While Pinkish Black may be known for the inexorable creep of their monolithic, synth-based doom, singer-keyboardist Daron Beck has always been upfront about his love of pop music, in particular Air Supply and Stevie Nicks. And this year, he lent his gloomy baritone to a project with Zombi (the legendary Pittsburgh duo of bassist Steve Moore and drummer Anthony Paterra) in an all-covers project called Zombi and Friends.


Zombi and Friends has released cover versions of songs by a range of honey-brown ’70s/’80s heroes, including Steely Dan, Eddie Rabbitt, Barry Gibb and Barbara Streisand, Billy Idol, Berlin, and even the fuckin’ Eagles. They had planned on stopping for the year with the cover of Genesis’ “ABACAB” but couldn’t resist dropping one more, the lone track from the Riverbottom Nightmare Band featured in Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, a 1977 TV special featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets. If you know, you know, and the Zombi and Friends tribute is every bit as deliciously unhinged as the original, which sounds like an Alice Cooper song made for Heavy Metal, the movie. You can find it and the other ZAF covers on YouTube. — S.S.


Contact HearSay at