Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest post: Top ten modern holiday songs

Oh man, the holidays are kicking my butt around here! There simply aren't enough hours in the day. Fortunately, my good friend Jeff has some holiday cheer to share with you all. Enjoy :)

I start my annual holiday music sweep of local radio stations at about 5PM on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve become a connoisseur of carols, and a savant of the sacred and secular chants. I’ve heard “Christmas Shoes” 146 times and if that doesn’t qualify me for an Honorary Doctorate of Christmas Music, I’m not sure what will. It gives me great holiday joy (and apparently, equivalent college credit) to bring you my Top Ten Modern Holiday songs of 2011!

10. Weezer – Christmas Song: Weezer has had a long career and my love for them started with the release of Weezer(Green). The best part about that album, you ask? Well, it’s the hidden Christmas track found as a B-Side on the Japanese release, of course! Ok, that’s not the best part of the album, but it gives it a little extra re-playability. Basically, this song is what “O Holy Night” and “Rainbow Connection” would sound like with a little bit post-grunge flavor added. Enjoy!

9. The Decemberists – January Hymn: Moving away from the 90s and into this year, I present you with a track off The Decemberists’ newest album, The King Is Dead. Now, this one isn’t exactly what I would call a Christmas tune, but it captures the winter season in such a bittersweet sense. It’s a beautiful acoustic track that will make you want to get warm by the fire with a nice fair trade cup of coffee.

8. Feist – Please Be Patient: Stephen Colbert is a lucky man to have Feist so enamored with him. It came as no surprise that she opted to be on A Colbert Christmas and was fantastic on it. This is a funny one (no shocker there) that will have you both enjoying the “Angels We Have Heard On High” backing track and Feist’s modified, customer service-based lyrics. Best to listen to it while you’re in line at JCPenney’s buying that extra batch of Snuggies… you know, just in case…

7. Local Natives – We Come Back: Before you start to leave an annoyed comment about how hard it was to find this song, don’t worry, I know. Regional B-Side doesn’t begin to describe how hard it was to find this song after I first heard it. The song itself is catchy (find a Local Natives song that isn’t) and honestly, the only thing that really distinguishes it as a Christmas song is the bells. Fine, you caught me. I was just trying to get Local Natives on the list. Don’t look at me like that; you know you liked it anyway.

6. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal: This song will forever bring me back to winter regardless of the time of year. That’s the kind of power I demand of seasonal songs. Again, we’re full-on secular with this one, but no one can deny how expertly crafted those harmonies are. You can find this on the Fleet Foxes self-titled from 2008. Maybe after the holiday season, take a listen to the rest of the album. It might just get you through those mid-winter blues.

Intermission: It’s that time to get up, stretch, maybe do a Sudoku, or possibly start with the pre-verdict comment. Go ahead. I’m not watching…..
….you missed that 8 in the bottom left. Also, you already have a 4 in that row. …what?

5. She & Him – Christmas Day: We have to have a She & Him song this year! Matt and Zooey are a great combination of Indie royalty. They just put out a new Christmas album this year and it just goes to show that indie doesn’t have to be sad to be good. (It certainly helps, though, right?) Christmas Day is one of the lesser knowns on the album, but it’s not the typical cliché cover which is what I’m trying to avoid at all costs…

4. Sufjan Stevens – Come Thou Fount: How did this typical cliché get in here? Because it’s amazing, that’s how. I know I said I would try to avoid these, but this is such a wonderful rendition that I couldn’t help it. If you’re familiar with Sufjan, all you need to know is Sufjan + Banjo = the key to living a happy life. This is leaning heavy into the sacred category of holiday songs, but again, the sheer amazingness of this song earns it a religious overtones pass. This time…

3. The Raveonettes – Christmas Song: What’s up with everyone trying to redefine “Christmas Song?”
Step 1: Use your signature sound.
Step 2: Add jingle bells
Step 3: Call it “Christmas Song”
Step 4: ????
Step 5: Prophet. (See what I did there?)
The problem for me has always been I love The Raveonettes ‘ signature sound and adding jingle bells just makes me want to start cutting down pine trees to bring to underprivileged, abused, orphaned puppies…with antlers. Do you appreciate that kind of scenery? Good, you’ve proven that you’re part of this demographic. Stay with me for this next one.

2. Matteo Scumaci – Branch In The Spokes: Fair warning, this is a sad holiday song, but what would the classics be without “I’ll Be Home For Christmas?” Besides that, this is a fantastic song on its own. Matteo has a great voice and the arrangement sounds eerily like Ozzy’s “Mama I’m Coming Home” which I’m alright with. Best to listen to as you’re drifting off to sleep after your fourth spiced eggnog. I call them Nogquils.

1. Pomplamoose – Always In The Season: This is a song that came out in 2009 from the YouTube band made up of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. It’s been a staple on every holiday playlist I’ve made since then. The old time, Miracle-on-34th-Street-esque feel and sound really propels this to the top. How do you make great holiday music? You ask these guys.

Bam! What a list. Now go download legally purchase yourself some hot holiday tracks!


  1. Such a good list! I love The Raveonettes' Christmas Song so much that I listen to it all year round...kind of embarrassing.

  2. She and Him is my soundtrack this year. Its one of the best Christmas albums I've heard in a long time. Thanks for the list!

  3. Thanks for the guest post, Jeff! I too give Sufjan Stevens the religious overtones pass most of the time because his music is so nice, and anything Pomplamoose puts me in a good mood. Time for some nontraditional Christmas music!

  4. I protest the lack of 'Father Christmas' by The Kinks from this list. Because it's probably the best Christmas song.
    However I am absolutely downloading this Pomplemoose song tonight.


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