Ok, maybe you’ve been trying to dodge all the Anne Murray holiday tunes, the tradition Christmas carols, and anything that even sounds like “Little Drummer Boy,” but the indie rock scene has always often come up with some of the best music for the yuletide, and besides, there’s really no other time you can wholeheartedly enjoy classics like The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” or Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.” Even the most black-hearted Scrooge has to smile at Meatwad and Neko Case singing about Santa’s “Christmas smear,” or bust a groove to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ “Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects.” So lighten up and don’t be afraid to let the green and red fly because whether you’ve been naughty or nice in 2009, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy some good (and often free) holiday music:
We’ll start you with a softball: Nothing will soften a jaded hipster’s heart faster than Beeker of The Muppets meeping his way through “Ode to Joy”:
Seattle-based songwriter Danny Barnes (from Austin’s Bad Livers back in the day!) offers a new single of a song that originally appeared on his 2001 album Things I Done Wrong. Download it for free here or listen to it right now:
Regarding this holiday original, singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin, now Mrs. Nate “Kings of Leon” Followill, says: “Wrote this tune a few weeks before my nuptials. Felt inspired by the season & my man... Recorded it in a hidden studio in East Nashville.” Now it’s yours to enjoy:
On his satellite show Underground Garage, Little Steven debuted a cover of the 1984 George Michael penned hit “Last Christmas” by Norway’s Cocktail Slippers:
Turns out, Dayton, Ohio, duo Swearing at Motorists had the same idea to cover the Wham! song, but they up the ante by also recording another Christmas classic:
Swearing at Motorists - Last Christmas (MP3)
Swearing at Motorists - Silver Bells (MP3)
Seattle’s Megan Pickerel (formerly of Hazelwood Motel) and Herman Jolly (Little Pieces) have started a duo project called Buzzyshyface, and they just made a Christmas song called “Christmas Yet” -- and it’s not... yet... so check this out now:
KEXP fan favorite Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings tells a story of a young girl growing up in the projects wondering how Santa’s gonna bring her gifts when “There ain’t no chimneys in the projects.” The b-side of the single (available here) features Daptone’s Binky Griptite making the “Holiday Breakdown.”
What’s green and hangs from the mantle? Meatwad, of Aqua Teen Hunger Force knows, and so does Anti- Records recording artist Neko Case:
Mitch Davis, aka Orba Squara, is probably more heard than recognized (his work has been featured in iPhone and Comcast commercials, on tv shows, and so on), but the NY-based songwriter isn’t afraid to stand in the shadows of giants as he covers Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”:
Boston-based DIY band The Hush Now are wishing you a happy Christmas:
Chicago duo Moneypenny put an electro twist on the classic “Peanuts” Christmas song.
While Seattle’s own Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band pen a song of their own (and look out for another new MSHVB holiday song as tomorrow’s Song of the Day podcast):
The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, backed by The Roots, takes the reigns from Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz on “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”:
Funk and Soul connoisseurs Strut Records have released In the Christmas Groove, and offer this song by young James Brown-in-training J.D. McDonald
The Nashville-based surf rock institution Los Straightjackets play the Yuletide Beat on their nearly sold-out holiday album.
Each year, The Killers record a holiday song and donate the profits to a charity. Proceeds for this year’s song, “Happy Birthday Guadalupe,” featuring their touring partners Wild Light and Mariachi El Bronx, go to the Global Fund.
Portland label Hometapes (Feathers, Bear in Heaven, Pattern Is Movement, etc.) offer The Eight Days of Hometapes, featuring a new song uploaded each day for a week on their website. Here are two of them:
This year, Tori Amos released her first ever seasonal album, Midwinter Graces. Here’s a live version of “Silent Night with You,” featured on the album:
And you probably heard that Bob Dylan also released an album of Christmas tunes, including “Must Be Santa”:
But now for something completely different... Canadian punkers Fucked Up with “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”:
Cult singer/actor Harvey Sid Fisher sings three songs from Dovecote artists Mason Proper, Tim Williams, and Trevor Giuliani on this free holiday EP.
We’ll leave you with a beautiful live version of Midwestern songwriter William Fitzsimmons performing “Covered in Snow”: