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Gary Hoey leaves no Texas blues, heavy metal, or “unplugged”

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cliché unstrummed on his instrumental Ho! Ho! Hoey. Stir Stevie Ray Vaughan into the most cheddary cheese log, and voilà!: Hoey’s swaggering “Blue Christmas.” A sugary electric-acoustic version of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” includes soundbites of a child saying “Ho ho ho” and ends with a showy bit of harmonics; “White Christmas” is styled as a sentimental rock ballad, complete with delay effects on everysingle note. But true connoisseurs will return again and again to “God Rest,” a spandex-and-

big-hair version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Hoey tiptoes into the track with an understated stanza played on electric-acoustic guitar…then wallops listeners with an awesome power chord. Out comes the distortion pedal, and suddenly it’s Christmas with the devil. Hoey performs an Eddie Van Halenesque guitar solo midway through and, picking up speed, produces a triumphant headbanging finale during which it’s easy to imagine a maniacal Santa flogging his reindeer across the sky, his beard whipping in the wind. This smelly stocking of studio tricks is best when it’s at its worst.—Nathalie op de Beeck