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8 New Holiday Releases That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 10, 2014 05:04pm | Post a Comment

Last year I made a list of 10 holiday albums that don’t suck. Well there’s a whole batch of new ones out now, so listen up!

Mark Kozelek Sings Christmas Carols

Indie rock firebrand Mark Kozelek, who released one of the best albums of 2014 with his Sun Kil Moon release Benji, makes a perfect fit for these churchy holiday tunes, with his cozy, crackling voice and gentle acoustic fingerpicking. The song choices are obvious, yet Kozelek imbues them with such spare beauty that it’s impossible not to be touched by classics like “Away in a Manger.”

 

Seth MacFarlaneHoliday for Swing!

What do you know? “Family Guy” and “American Dad” creator Seth MacFarlane ain’t a bad crooner. Actually I guess we all already knew that, since he sings regularly on “Family Guy” and released an album already, 2011’s Music Is Better Than Words, but it’s still remarkable to hear him play it straight, rein in the sarcasm and keep it classy—you keep waiting for him to drop an F-bomb or toilet joke, but he doesn’t. He works with a 52-piece orchestra here, singing only a couple of well-known classics like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and picking a few lesser-known tunes from the ’50s and ’60s.Best are his duets with Norah Jones (“Little Jack Frost Get Lost”) and Sara Bareilles (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

 

Flaming Lips Imagene Peise: Atlas Eets Christmas

This one’s not so grandma-friendly, but it’s not as acid-fried as you might expect, either. This largely piano-driven, jazzy take through holiday classics is surprisingly classy for the Lips. Unusual instrumentation pops up here and there, and light record crackling gives this the feel of a lost ’60s holiday-psychedelia gem. (Reissue)

 

Silent Night, Deadly Night [OST]

Christmas Evil [OST]

For the Grinch in all of us, Death Waltz just reissued the soundtracks to two holiday horror camp classics, Perry Botkin’s sometimes scary, sometimes funny soundtrack to Silent Night, Deadly Night and Don Christensen’s spare, buzzing score for Christmas Evil. Both are wonderful unearthed relics of their time, and along with the great artwork Death Waltz provides on their reissues, they’re great for any ’80s horror fans and synth score enthusiasts.

 

Los Campesinos! - A Los Campesinos! Christmas

It makes sense that indie popsters Los Campesinos! would bring their infectious enthusiasm to Christmas music, and we always appreciate it when artists try their hand at writing their own holiday tunes. “When Christmas Comes” has an uplifting, Cure-ish feel (which leaves us wondering why they never did a Christmas album), while heartfelt tunes like “The Holly & The Ivy” jibe well with established holiday classics. Rather than just one-off, A Los Campesinos! Christmas actually sounds just like great new music from Los Campesinos! 

 

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Just Another Christmas Song 7”

Bonnie “Prince” Billy Christmas Eve Can Kill You 7”

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, who are no strangers to Christmas tunes, play a newly penned laid-back holiday funk-jam, while the B-side sees Jones and Saun & Starr do a naughty little holiday jingle called “Big Bulbs.” (But really, this is nothing new—have you ever actually read the lyrics to “Santa Baby”?) Meanwhile, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Dawn McCarthy spin out a couple of Everly Brothers tunes, including a charming little ditty about how deadly hitchhiking through the snow can be called “Christmas Eve Can Kill You.” Happy holidays y’all!

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Mark Kozelek (12), Seth Macfarlane (1), Flaming Lips (18), Lists (63), Silent Night Deadly Night (2), Christmas Evil (1), Death Waltz (3), Los Campesinos (3), Sharon Jones & The Dap-kings (8), Bonnie Prince Billy (17), Holiday Music (6), Christmas Music (4)