Friday, December 16, 2011

Alternative Christmas Music Playlist

Same old Christmas songs got you down? Sick of hearing Neil Diamond while trimming the tree? Looking to amp up your holiday routine? Never fear, as someone you don't know on the internet has expertly curated a Spotify playlist just for you! Enjoy some classic tunes in ways you may not have heard, and some different originals to get you through the season.

 As with anything on Spotify, regional limits may vary, but some descriptions and links are after the jump:

* "Sleigh Ride" - Squirrel Nut Zippers: If you're a certain age, you surely recall that 3 weeks during the 1990s where swing music was the Hot! New! Thing! and the Squirrel Nut Zippers were able to ride that wave with their song "Hell." Well, the band had some ups and downs, but not before putting out what may be my favorite Christmas album I own, Christmas Caravan. The album is full of fun Christmas originals, but their version of "Sleigh Ride" never fails in putting a smile on my face.

* "Little Drummer Boy" - The Dandy Warhols: The Dandy Warhols had a couple alt-rock hits at their height, and were responsible for the theme song to Veronica Mars. This version of "Little Drummer Boy" rocks it out in their own way, and is one of my favorite versions of the tune.

* "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" - Guster: What happens when a group of Jewish kids who started playing music together at Tufts University are asked to record a Christmas song? Apparently, this. It's quite fun. Also, one of the members of the band has a side project...

* "Goyim Friends" - The LeeVees: ...that put out an album a few years back called Hanukkah Rocks, which is a collection of Hanukkkah tunes for the holiday.
* "I Saw Three Ships" - Sufjan Stevens: Before Sufjan Stevens became a breakout indie darling, he would release a Christmas EP every year. Those EPs have since been collected as Songs for Christmas, which is worth your time as a collection of Christmas standards and fun new songs for the indie folkie in you.

* "Just Like Christmas" - Low: It may be just the circles I run in, but this song has quickly become a Christmas classic of sorts in terms of modern Christmas originals. The sleigh bells, the mood that the song puts out there, nothing about this song is bad at all.

* "Happy XMas (War is Over)" - The Polyphonic Spree: The Polyphonic Spree has 21 members at the time of this writing, and is known for vast, epic-style sing-a-long songs. Their version of the John Lennon song "Happy XMas (War is Over)" is right in their wheelhouse.

* "The Christmas Song" - The Raveonettes: The Raveonettes enjoy classic production values and a unique sound for their time, and their Christmas song has the same qualities. You can picture the backup dancers having a choerographed dance to the verses within 5 seconds of the song's start. 

* "Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland" - Grandaddy: Grandaddy loves their synths, loves Alan Parsons, and, I suppose, loves Christmas. Why not add all three together for what is probably the most bizarre Christmas song you're likely to hear?

* "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas": What's more fascinating about this? That they went back to the well for more Star Wars Christmas fun, or that this is the first official recording we ahve of Jon Bon Jovi?

* "Always After Christmas, Boring" - The Sixth Great Lake: The Sixth Great Lake were part of the massive Elephant 6 Collective, and many of those bands did a Christmas album for Kindercore Records. This remains my favorite of that group.

* "The Dreydl Song" - Another Man Down: One more for the Hanukkah fans, this one is a rockin' version of the ever-popular "Dreydl Song." Make sure you stick around through the bridge for a surprise.

* "I Want an Alien for Christmas" - Fountains of Wayne: A power pop classic from Fountains of Wayne, one of two Christmas songs they've done over the years. 

* "La Rama" - David Wax Museum: This one's a bit too new to have anything beyond Spotify, but this upbeat Mexican-style Christmas tune isn't likely to be like anything else you listen to this year.

* "Feliz Navi-nada" - El Vez: El Vez, "the Mexican Elvis," has been mixing songs and styles for years. His version of "Feliz Navidad" just simply rocks.

* "Last Christmas" - Jimmy Eat World: While I don't have a ton of nice things to say about Jimmy Eat World, I will say that their version of this Wham! classic is perfect.

* "Jingle Bell Rock" - The Mistletoe Disco Band: What better way to close off a holiday playlist than with some disco fever? Happy Holidays, everyone!

Jeff Raymond is a soon-to-be-regular poster at Fruitless Pursuits. You can find more of his writings and reviews at his personal site


  1. Wow, I think I've only heard one of these before.

    And I do remember the three weeks where Squirrel Nut Zippers were hot. I think I even caught them live during that period.

  2. Sorry, comments don't notify to me on Taylor's posts. Grr. We probably saw them live at the same time, they were my third concert ever!