Indie Rock Christmas

Santa wore skinny jeans this year.

By Bryan Berlin

Ah, the beginning of the Holiday season. Although some will argue that season starts the day after Thanksgiving, or even as early as November 1st, I’d like to believe that December 1st is perfect time to get into the holiday spirit. And now were here. Peppermint flavored drinks. Yellow colored snow. More aftershave as presents from your great aunt. And most importantly, the same exact holiday music every year.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s fun hearing the holiday songs once. Maybe the good ones twice. But to only have the same 20 or so main holiday songs at your disposal every year is boring. And with the exception of Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” I really don’t have the desire to listen to these songs on repeat.

Luckily, modern day artists have decided to make some classic holiday music of their own. And while some of those songs have broken into the mainstream and drive you crazy every time you hear them (I’m looking at you Mariah Carey), there are still a lot of good Christmas songs that haven’t hit the radio shuffle. Here is a playlist of songs to listen to when you’ve gotten sick of the other songs.

 1. “All That I Want” – The Weepies

As my friend pointed out to me, this song is definitely not a song specifically made for the holiday season (It was on their first full length album Happiness – although it was released on November 29th…). However, the song most definitely about Christmas, made apparent by its mentioning of Christmas in the first few lines of the song. It’s a good, light song to set the mood for the rest of the mix.

2. “Believe In Me” – fun.

This song picks up tempo a little bit and focuses on the gift giving portion of Christmas. Some of the lyrics are actually pretty sentimental, and the song is just enjoyable overall.

3. “This Year” – Jukebox The Ghost

Although I was tempted to use Jukebox’s “Mistletoe,” I opted against it in favor of this song. I like it because it’s about love and making the most of this time of year, and I’m just a sap when it comes to that stuff.

4. “Winter Wonderland” – Phantom Planet

Although it can get annoying hearing the same classic Christmas songs over and over every year, this is a great twist on a classic. Most well known doing The OC theme song, Phantom Planet takes the classic feel of the original and adds some nice breakdowns.

5. “Donde Esta Santa Claus” – Guster

You may as well call this the modern day “Feliz Navidad.” Or maybe not. The only thing it really has in common with Feliz Navidad is that it’s in Spanish. Nothing else is even remotely like the classic Spanish Christmas song. But it is Guster, and it’s a great song.

6. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Arcade Fire

I probably shouldn’t have included this song. It’s actually very weird. It legitimately sounds like a fifth grade choirs rehearsal for a Christmas play. Maybe that’s what I like about it though. It’s fun in a hilarious way.

7. “Christmas Time Is Here Again” – My Morning Jacket

Another remake of a classic, My Morning Jacket’s distinct sound comes through on this cover. I also like it’s unplugged sounding recording of it.

8. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Death Cab For Cutie

This beings our small journey through the sad indie Christmas songs. This song is classic Death Cab. You know, the Death Cab that played the greatest sad songs ever, who is inevitably going to resurface now that Ben and Zooey have split. Yeah, those guys. Enjoy.

9. “Things We Don’t Need Anymore” – Jenny Owen Youngs

I enjoy this one because Jenny startles the line perfectly of upbeat music with depressing lyrics. It’s the kind of song that you’re tapping your foot along to before you suddenly realize you’re bawling your eyes out.

10. “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever” – Sufjan Stevens

Yes, technically Sufjan should get his own article. He may as well grow a neck beard and wear red flannel to be the Santa for hipsters everywhere. That being said, the best songs on his CD are his original ones, and I feel like this one best encompasses his sound with how lame the holidays can be sometimes.

11. “The Christmas Waltz” – She and Him

This She and Him song has the opposite effect of the Jenny Owen Youngs song from earlier. The music sounds like it would be a pretty sad song, but the lyrics are actually quite nice. This just proves girls love mixing up your emotions.

12. “It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop” – Frightened Rabbit

This is the perfect example of what Frightened Rabbit does best: the saddest love songs. They do them so well that you almost have to applaud them.

13. “The Opposite of Hallelujah” – Jens Lekman

This is probably the only song on here that legitimately is not a holiday song in anyway. It’s from Jens Lekman regular old album, the lyrics have almost nothing to do with anything holiday related, but for some reason, this song puts me in a holiday mood. The music has a holiday feel, and so I’ve decided to force it into this playlist.

14. “Holly Jolly Christmas” – The Format

Another cover of a classic, The Format nails the feeling of the original song and adds a nice little new twist. I’ve always felt this is the ideal Christmas song to go out on, so that’s why it made it here.

If you like these songs and want to hear more like them, check out Indie Rock Cafe.

Also you can hear the whole playlist via Spotify here.

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