Sound check: Holiday songs from town; Kevin Pollack’s new EP; Guardrail streaming at Finter Fest

Chicago-area musicians have delivered a few nice holiday tunes to brighten up this season; Kevin Pollack’s new EP; Good Noise’s Finter Fest; and Buffalo Creek Brewing’s Alpine Fest.

Kevin Pollack’s ‘Other Side’

For more than a year, Glenview’s Kevin Pollack has been rolling out a collection of singles and videos chronicling his love story with his wife, Katherine Damisch. But this weekend, he headed in a different direction. Dipping back to his past for some unreleased demos, Pollack dropped the three-song “The Other Side” EP, a collection of stand-alone songs colored by his NuTown style. Fans of Pollack’s throwback musical vibe will appreciate hearing his exploration of different styles. The EP is available for purchase and streaming on most major services.

Local gifts

If it feels like 2020 deserves the biggest lump of coal in Santa’s sleigh, I’m with you. But this year also managed a few nice gifts near the end. The local music scene has wrapped up a few new holiday tunes to make your season a little brighter. Give ’em a spin.

• “Tune My Heart,” Each Day, Grant Milliren and Ben Mulwana: The West suburban folk-ternative quartet Each Day teamed up with singer-songwriters Grant Milliren of Naperville and Wisconsin’s Ben Mulwana for a five-song release of uplifting holiday tunes last week. They dabble in the more traditional (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock”), the modern (“Christmas All Over”) and the spiritual (“Mary, Did You Know”), but the joyful and gospel-esque take on “Come Thou Fount” is a true standout that reflects the deeper meaning for the holiday. Find it on SpotifyApple Music and YouTube.

• “Momma’s Gotta Get Her Shopping Done,” The BuzzHounds: With the exuberance of a rockabilly blizzard, Jeff Manga and The BuzzHounds capture the whirly, twirly chaos of the days leading up to Christmas and all the fun that goes along with it. Take an adrenaline ride along with the band as you cruise through your holiday weekend. Find it on SpotifyApple Music and YouTube.

• “Cancel Christmas,” Prospect Avenue: If you’re not feeling the warm fuzzies this holiday season, Prospect Avenue’s new single might be just what you need to take the edge off. It’s a fast-driving reflection on the events of 2020 — post-apocalyptic grocery runs, quarantines, riots, politics and the rest of this challenging year — but in a clever and semi-upbeat way. And that chorus melts its way into your brain and holds on tight. “I think we might just have to cancel Christmas/I don’t want to celebrate this year/Santa, stay six feet away/don’t fly your sleigh down here.” Find it on SpotifyApple Music and YouTube.

• “Miracle,” by Million Miler: Tom Higgenson’s (of the Plain White T’s) Million Miler project is still relatively young, but it already has its signature style locked in. Accompanied by poppy melodies and chime-y ’80s synth, he writes of seeking a miracle this Christmas from the point of view of someone feeling a pronounced lack of cheer. It’s definitely something to connect with for those of us who may be feeling something missing this holiday season. Find it on SpotifyApple Music and YouTube.

• “Dreams of Christmas,” by Kevin Conroy: About 80% of this new song by Kevin Conroy (of Sun-Riser) projects an idealized and idyllic Christmas celebration — peaceful family, food, lights outside, beer in the cooler by the door. A modern-day Norman Rockwell take on the holiday, if you will. And then the guitar blazes to life for a rock-heavy finale. Find it on SpotifyApple Music and YouTube.

Guardrail // Courtesy of Alex Zarek

The day after

Once you’ve carbo-loaded on figgy pudding and fruitcake and are looking for a quiet hole to hibernate in, here’s another option to keep the dopamine flowing. For two days this weekend, the Good Noise Podcast will be streaming its Good Noise Finter Fest on Twitch, featuring performances from 45 artists across the country — special shoutout to Chicago’s own Guardrail and Safe Bet, both with sets on Sunday. Donations from the stream will benefit The Trevor Project and the Equal Justice Initiative.

11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27; streaming at

Planning ahead

If you’re looking for New Year’s Day (and weekend) plans, Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove might just have the answer. The two-day Alpine Fest features beer, toasty fires and some music from local artists Jaik Willis (Friday) and the Mid Atlantic trio (Saturday). Fork n Fry food truck will also be on-site Saturday with loaded french fries and poutine. Stay socially distanced, but still celebrate the incoming year.

4 to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 1 and 2, at Buffalo Creek Brewing, 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove. Free admission. (847) 821-6140 or

• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Email him at, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@thatshamieguy) or Instagram (@chicagosoundcheck).

Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

About Post Author