10 Best Christmas Albums
'Tis the season for coffeehouse indie rock Christmas compilations to start filling the argyle socks hanging over the chimney. While these collections make great stocking stuffers, our list of the Best Christmas Albums focuses on single-act sets — holiday discs made by some of our favorite indie and alternative rockers. Some experiment with original seasonal tunes, while others offer their takes on traditional holiday favorites. Our inventory has something for everyone, and whether you've been naughty or nice this year, there's a Christmas record perfect for you. Here are our picks for the Best Christmas Albums in indie and alternative rock.
‘A Very She & Him Christmas’
The retro pop-rock combo comprising M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel released a perfectly quirky album of holiday classics in 2012. The collection features ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ which Deschanel first crooned with a different “him,” actor Will Ferrell, in the movie ‘Elf.’
‘A Christmas Album’
Even the ever-bleak Conor Oberst changed his tune and embraced the most wonderful time of the year when his band Bright Eyes released this, the next entry on our Best Christmas Albums list, in 2002. But the group didn’t crack too wide of smile, as the 11-track release does include ‘Blue Christmas.'
‘We Three Kings’
The limited edition Christmas album from psychobilly trio Reverend Horton Heat included an ornament, which is a much better fan extra than guest liner notes. ‘We Three Kings’ features 13 tracks, including more commercial carols like ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Jingle Bells.’
‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’
Alt-rock fans were in for a surprise when former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland released an album of full-on traditional Christmas classics in 2011. The album includes ‘Silent Night’ and ‘White Christmas,’ which are perfect for the closet Christmas rocker in us all.
‘The Singing Saw of Christmastime’
Elephant 6 and former Neutral Milk Hotel member Julia Koster released our next Best Christmas Albums selection in 2008, and it features an entire selection of songs played on a singing saw. The violin-meets-woodwork instrument provides a warm and eery soundtrack to any holiday gathering, especially all those hipster ugly-sweater parties.
Moody rockers Low released ‘Christmas’ in 1999 with a mixture of mellow classics and even mellower originals. Their song ‘Just Like Christmas’ even appeared on the ‘O.C.’ holiday soundtrack, ‘Have A Very Merry Chrismukkah.’
‘Christmas With Weezer’
Some bands may try to adapt their sound to the standards, but Weezer was not one of them. The '90s nerds released a 6-track Christmas EP in 2008, which sounds more like a ‘Red and Green’ album, but it's a seasonal alt-rock classic nonetheless.
‘My Morning Jacket Does Xmas Fiasco Style!’
Eleven years before releasing a Christmas-themed iTunes session in 2011, My Morning Jacket dropped this holiday EP. It features covers and originals, including one of the band’s more popular early singles, ‘Xmas Curtain,’ which isn’t actually about Christmas, or even curtains.
‘Merry Christmas from Yo La Tengo’
The Hoboken, N.J., three-piece may be known for their annual eight-straight nights of Hanukkah shows, but the band released a Christmas EP in 2002. No. 2 on our Best Christmas Albums list features three covers, including a laid-back indie take on the Jan Terri non-classic ‘Rock N Roll Santa.’
‘Songs For Christmas (Vol. 1-5)’
Judging by the number of Christmas albums Sufjan Stevens has released, not even Baby Jesus himself likes the holidays as much as this Detroit musician. His first box set, ‘Songs for Christmas,’ features five EPs, with a total of 42 songs. The collection features everything from traditional songs like ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ to originals like ‘Jupiter Winter.’ His second five-album box set, ‘Silver and Gold,’ was released in 2012, quite possibly making him the most festival indie musician ever.