‘Tis the season for knits, seven-dollar cups of warm liquid joy and festive melodies. While there is always time for some crooning during Michael Bublé awareness month, dig through the digital crate that includes some of our favourite artists packaging the gift that keeps on giving.
Bright Eyes—A Christmas Album
Suggested listen: “Blue Christmas”
It’s Chrismukkah, Seth Cohen! Plenty of alt-country versions of those carols with Conor Oberst drawling like a drunk uncle.
She & Him—A Very She And Him Christmas
Suggested listen: “Little Saint Nick”
If it weren’t for her crooning alongside Will Ferrell in Elf, it’d be hard to imagine Zooey Deschanel’s collaboration with M. Ward earning the attention that it did. It’s a perfect album of quirky melodies.
My Morning Jacket—My Morning Jacket Does Xmas Fiasco Style
Suggested listen: “XMas Time Is Here Again”
The Kentuckian stocking stuffer that features the six-minute guitar versus sleigh bell spasm titled, “Xmas Time Is Here Again” that is layered with the aural equivalent of that first glass of eggnog, Jim James sweet, sweet vocals.
Sufjan Stevens—Songs For Christmas
Suggested listen: “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!”
Sufjan Stevens is in constant pursuit of loving Christmas more than the baby Jesus. This first boxset of 42-songs is the granddaddy of alternative festive offerings, only to be matched by his five-album boxset Silver And Gold. His repertoire ranges from traditional hymns like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” to originals like “Sister Jupiter”
Weezer—A Weezer Christmas
Suggested listen: “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”
Should’ve called it ‘the Red And Green Album’.
Various Artists—Christmas On Death Row
Suggested listen: Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto
Surprisingly light on the gangsta and heavy on the spiritual uplift, this was released in the same year that Dr. Dre left the label. Featuring Nate Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Danny Boy, this album shares one of the most underrated Snoop jams of all time.
The New Pornographers—The Spirit Of Giving EP
Suggested listen: “Joseph, Who Understood”
Released as a three-song EP in the era of Electric Version that features Dan Bejar’s cryptic lyricism and a cover duel of Iain Sutherland’s “Arms Of Mary” with The Sutherland Brothers’ “Looking At A Baby”, but the A.C. Newman and Neko Case debut that tells the tale of the immaculate conception from Joseph’s point of view. It’s better than a lump of coal.
Various Artists—A Christmas Gift For You From Philles Records
Suggested listen: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Phil Spector’s legendary classic that was the turning point for the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and his own musical developments. Nothing signifies the unveiling of an advent calendar quite like Darlene Love.
Saint Etienne—A Glimpse Of Stocking
Suggested listen: “I Was Born On Christmas Day (Ft. Tim Burgess of The Charlatans)”
What other acid-house anthems are on your holiday rotation? Find the balance with an album that includes “No Cure For The Common Christmas.”
Cassie Ramone—Christmas In Reno
Suggested listen: “Sleigh Ride”
Cassie Ramone, the former Vivian Girls guitarist, recorded and mixed a haunted collection of songs that she calls “an ode to the nostalgic merriment of Christmas and a nod to the pain and desolation of the American holiday season.”