The pace of the two weeks prior to New Year's Eve makes it obvious why the music industry shuts down so dramatically at the end of the year. Barring a steely constitution or a monklike sense of restraint, no one can go to this many industry parties and not feel ready to collapse with happy exhaustion and a cache of resolutions.

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Neumo's started the week off with an open-bar bash that brought out all the usual suspects who are always game for hamming it up for Stranger photographer Kelly O, including the club co-owners Jason Lajeunesse, Steven Severin, and Mike Meckling, who were celebrating a banner year and looking forward to an already-promising 2007. The club has several impressive bills lined up for January—notably, a solo appearance by the Shins' James Mercer on January 6, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks on January 19 (with badass blues-punk prodigy Entrance opening). As for the party itself, although the Pogues tribute band, featuring members of the Minus 5 and the Decemberists, was fittingly festive, it was the opening set from local band the Girls that impressed me the most. For a band that has taken so many stylistic departures and survived the temporary relocation of members (guitarist Zache Davis just recently moved back from New York), they have really come into their own and sounded tighter and more focused than ever.

Between parties thrown by Hattie's Hat/No Depression owner Kyla Fairchild, Singles Going Steady, and the Tin Hat's annual "Fucked Jukebox" DJ night, (not to mention power-striking, biblically proportioned windstorms), I was happy that I still had the energy to enjoy Ballard Calling at the Sunset. Huge thanks to all the musicians who donated their time and talents, and to the enthusiastic mob that made it an instant sellout. As I mentioned in this column last week, the night of Clash covers was a benefit for the Jasmine Ball Memorial Fund, a cause close to my heart, so I was thrilled to see such an overwhelming show of support for the fund.

Former Seattleite Daniel G. Harmann relocated to Portland a while back but, like the Girls' Zache Davis, returned this past spring. Harmann has made his latest record, a quietly beautiful EP entitled The Books We Read Will Bury Us, available exclusively online through iTunes. "Since this record is just an EP, I thought, why not give it a shot?" explains Harmann. "My goal is to start my own label, and pressing an EP isn't necessarily the best idea financially, but I'd had these songs recorded for about a year, and I really wanted them out there. It hit iTunes faster than I thought it would, and so far, it's sold better than both my other records." Harmann plans to return to the studio this April to record a new full-length; you can catch him at the Skylark in West Seattle on Thursday, December 21, with Jean Mann and Christina T.

Despite what people often assume based on the implications of my name, I'm not even a little bit Jewish, though I've often wished I were. I don't know if it was the childhood crush on my Hebrew-school-attending neighbor or being raised by a mother who was an obsessive Woody Allen fan, but that strange fact remains. If I didn't already have a house party to attend this Friday, December 22, I'd definitely make reservations to see Jewish drag syndicate the Kinsey Sicks at the Triple Door. The a cappella outfit is touring with their holiday show, Oy Vey in a Manager: Christmas Carols and Other Jewish Music. Between song titles like "God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians" and "Crystal Time in the City," it's safe to say this is one show you wouldn't want to take your conservative bube to, unless she's down with Lenny Bruce–caliber humor.

Finally, congratulations to local metal mavericks Lesbian, who have found themselves a home on Holy Mountain, where their labelmates will include admirable acts such as Om, Six Organs of Admittance, and Lichens. The band's first release for the label is scheduled for early 2007.

hlevin@thestranger.com