The Beyoncé of the winter holidays is here! Unfortunately, so are the same 12 songs that echo through the halls of department stores and small businesses alike. We know you’re craving some new Christmas jams, and Christmas is the season of giving! We’ve gifted you with five indie Christmas albums you’ll absolutely love. Unwrap ‘em below!
SOCKS: JD McPherson
SOCKS is a hilariously relatable take on the modern Christmas album released by New West Records. It uniquely captures the old spirit of Christmas with cultural nuances for Millennial fun. McPherson adopts classic French horns, sleigh bells, and blues guitar that harken back to the classic Christmas albums we all know and love. Each track on SOCKS tells a familiar holiday story from all stages of the Christmas experience, from childhood to the adulting years. The title track chronicles every child’s first heartbreak - getting clothes for Christmas. Socks, in particular. McPherson’s elongated and distraught cry of “socks” so accurately pinches that childlike distress that listeners can’t help but laugh. Ugly Sweater Blues reminds everyone of the itchy sweater they were forced to wear as a child during the holiday family function. This shared Christmas trauma is likely the reason behind the popularity of ugly sweater parties. Even a self-proclaimed Grinch can enjoy Hey Skinny Santa!, which dockets the delicious gorging of Christmas dinner in cities across the U.S. Catch SOCKS on iTunes or Spotify to enjoy this Christmas merriment every year.
Hi Fi Christmas Guitar: Joel Paterson
Released in November 2017 by Ventrella Records, Paterson’s Hi Fi Christmas Guitar is Paterson’s take on classic Christmas songs with the hifi guitar as the lead. We only hear Christmas songs once a year, but regurgitating the same songs that echo through department stores can get tiresome. Paterson cuts out the middleman that is the old tired lyrics that haunt your brain this time of year. This subtle distinction gives classics like Jingle Bell Rock, Winter Wonderland and Blue Christmas new life in this happy collection. When recording the album, Paterson aimed for a holiday album that doesn’t follow “stylistic boundaries”. Instead, Paterson researched the original recordings of these Christmas classics and set out to emulate the original intent laid down by the songs’ original singers. The wintry cheer of Christmas Time is Here (made famous by the Charlie Brown Christmas album) pleasantly thaws with the warm sound of the hi fi guitar. Blue Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree make for a fun remember-the-lyrics challenge without the assistance of the singers on each track. Paterson’s musicianship makes Christmas music a little cozier in this beautiful rendition of each classic.
A Very She and Him Christmas: She and Him
If you like your Christmas with a little hipster twist, try A Very She and Him Christmas by the indie rock duo with a folksy twist, She and Him. A Very She and Him Christmas is a great pick, especially if you’ve had your fill of pop synths and electric sound. Musicians Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, signed with Merge Records, generally make music for “eternal Springtime”. However, She and Him are not out of place with their Christmas spirit. A Very She and Him Christmas bounces between sweet sentiment and enjoyable renditions of old Christmas standards. She and Him sing Baby It’s Cold Outside with a fun gender-reversal, and released an amusing video of their rendition of the 1950s Christmas staple. I’ll Be Home for Christmas is decidedly one of the warmest versions of the track you’ve heard in a long time, with Deschanel’s vocals and Ward’s acoustic guitar harmonizing together to encourage holiday togetherness. Upbeat songs like Sleigh Ride allow the folk side of the band to shine. Acoustics instruments are renowned for allowing listeners to appreciate the lyrics, and this album is no different. A Very She and Him Christmas captures the relaxed and sweet spirit of Christmas, making it ideal for listening with loved ones. You can catch this album on Spotify or She and Him’s official website. If giving back during the holiday season is important to you, grabbing a copy of A Very She and Him Christmas donates a portion of the proceeds to 826 National, a tutoring non profit organization that helps kids become great writers.
A Christmas Album: Bright Eyes
Bright Eyes’ A Christmas Album features some of the most beautiful instrumentation you’ll hear in a modern Christmas album. Bright Eyes’ use of the violin and piano give each song a quiet power that feels closer to a religious experience. One of the highlights of the album is the The Night Before Christmas, also known as A Visit From St. Nicholas. The narration of this classic story makes for a fantastically nostalgic listen. The words of the song are beautifully supplemented by a soft backdrop of music, providing an extra dose of imagination for a bedtime story or listen among friends. A Christmas Album slows each song down just a little, which makes tracks like Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night all the more ethereal. A Christmas Album’s homage to much older Christmas tracks like Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and The First Noël, make the album feel even more like a Christmas classic.
Songs for Christmas: Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens’ Songs For Christmas covers Stevens’ impressively long career with Christmas music. These 42 songs vary from the religious sentiment of Christmas to the kid-friendly sing-alongs. With over four hours of content spread across five disks, you’d be hard pressed to find a Christmas song you didn’t like. You can find We’re Going to the Country! which uses banjos and endearing lyrics to draw the listener in to a winter picture described by Stevens’ soft singing. That Was the Worst Christmas Ever! sounds like the title to a song for kids, but is in fact a weighty tune about families who might have a difficult time during the holidays. It’s a surprisingly well-rounded collection of music that touches on varied emotions that occur from the holidays, serving as an honest, something-for-everyone appeal.
We hope you loved our top picks for an indie rock Christmas. If you prefer getting your music in person, check out Mole Street Artists for live music in Philadelphia.