Another year hurtling to a close, another Christmas single from our friends across the pond at Ample Play Records. I was so-so on last year’s offering, a fluffy split from French bands Beat Mark and Sudden Death of Stars, but L.A.’s the Smoking Trees do the honors this time around in their usual psych-tinged style. The results, while still a first class platter of Christmas cheese, are delightfully low-key fun with the all chilled out vibes one can expect from a SoCal holiday season.
Oh, but did I mention that they’re also kind of a bummer? Cuz they are. Despite the seasonal corniness of backing vocals repeating “merry Christmas, merry merry Christmas” over and over, A-side “Round Christmastime” is more of a lament than a hymn. Why do you love me more ’round Christmas time?, the band wonders over twinkling sleigh bells and gently strummed guitars before concluding: This day is your reward to give you gifts I can’t afford. Looks like someone’s getting a lump of coal this year and it’s not the Smoking Trees.
But hark, the band lightens up on the b-side with a tongue-in-cheek call to “let the psychedelic lights of Christmas shine over you,” which anyone who’s ever hit the X-Mas cheer too hard can surely relate to. Even better, the label’s write up accompanying this single offers a welcome bit of news: another record from the Smoking Trees in 2014, their first since 2012′s most excellent Acetates. Hell yeah, I’ll drink to that.