Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Enjoy Christmas the right way

I like Christmas, for a number of reasons, but mostly because I like to pretend that it is the 1950s and I am only going to get a catapult and bag of nuts in my stocking. By the big day I am pretty bored with the season, but in November I get excited about getting my Christmas albums out and just digging the winter feelings on my own terms. So here are some good ones to get:

AUSTERE MORMON CHRISTMAS: Low, "Christmas EP"
Brilliantly spare, lovely music by the super-religious indie rock band. I am not much of a theologian but few people could argue with this thing.

PIANO JAZZ PLUS SINGING CHILDREN CHRISTMAS: Vince Guaraldi, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
One of my favourite albums of all time. End to end brilliance that pretty much defines what this kind of record should be.

SIXTIES WALL OF SOUND CHRISTMAS: Beach Boys "Christmas With The Beach Boys"; Phil Spector, "A Christmas Gift For You"
The Beach Boys record is their 60s Christmas album teamed with a rotten, shelved 70s effort that fortunately contains 'Morning Christmas', a heart-stopping Dennis Wilson number. The Phil Spector record is "Sleigh Ride" and all that - peerless 60s pop.

LOOK FOR IT ON THE INTERNET CHRISTMAS: Sufjan Stevens "Hark! Songs For ChristmasVols I-III"
I found these unreleased gems by accident while looking for pictures of pandas on Google Image (lie). The indie folkster loves baby Jesus and delivers in spades.

I quite like the class-of-whatever-year alternative compilations that come out each Christmas. There are dozens of them but Xfm's "Cool Cool Christmas" is the best of a mixed bunch in the last decade. It even has a song by Lauren Laverne. Buyer beware, they always feature a couple of horrible songs (guilty party here: shame on you, the Flaming Lips!)

This year I want to get some good country Christmas albums in, as nobody does it better than Nashville. But since there are 17 million of them, feel free to help in the comments. I realise that country music is a dirty word (two words) in the image-led hipster world of blogs, but be brave.

15 comments:

bad movie night said...

i am having severe trouble. i would really like to find the couple of comics that had shelley rating some of john's albums (excuse my use of your first name if you read this...).
can anyone point out where it is for me?
thanks.

John A said...

Week after Christmas 2004.

Zach! said...

For some reason when I was a child I really liked "Alabama Christmas." I don't particularly know why and now I like it for the charming... antique feeling of it. Not that it is antique by any means, but it reminds me of my childhood. Oh, and who can argue with a song title like "Thistlehare the Christmas Bear?" Really, who can?

Jenna said...

Since you mentioned country music, one of the four Christmas tapes that my mother digs up every year is one by Dolly Parton (and most likely features Kenny Rogers, I'd have to listen to be sure). It is tolerable.

I am a huge fan of anything Peanuts related, seeing you mention the Charlie Brown Christmas CD made me all warm inside and now I have to download this album.

Corwin said...

The Home Alone soundtrack has some very good christmas tracks. I put it on tonight to calm things down. The Carol of the Bells on it is especially nice though O Holy Night isn't as wrathful as it could be.

O Holy Night needs a lot of wrath to be really effective, I think.

Laura said...

I love Christmas albums.. and tend to drive everyone mad at this time of year playing them! I esp like The Vandals - Oi to the World.

Ken said...

I really like the Brian Setzer Christmas album, and the Elvis Christmas album is classic.

michael said...

Dammit, that Low CD is the greatest thing ever committed to any form of musical recording. If it doesn't warm the cockles of even the grinchiest person, well... they're just not trying.

If anyone hasn't read it, check out Mick Foley's (yes, the wrestler) biography - he loooooves the festive season, and recommends a fair few obscure Christmas albums that he plays all year round, bless 'im.

James said...

Man: it is what if White Christmas was done by Tom Waits. I can totally imagine him doing that except that he can't because the Flaming Lips did it first.

This is what is known in the Economics world as Comparative Advantage and it is a good thing.


P.S. I am failing Economics.

Sam Logan said...

John Allison spends Christmas inside a Chip and Dale cartoon!

Steve said...

my favorite christmas album is mu330's winter wonderland. yes, they're ska, just as indie-reprehensible as country probably. they play the classics in a great way but it's actually about half original christmas songs, sure to delight one's heart. they're quite goofy as well, and i like that.

Larsony said...

In my house we play a vinyl copy of the Chipmunks christmas which still plays even after me and my brother had lego man races on it while it was spinning.

Ah, memories is what Christmas is full of.

Christophe said...

Apparently the McGarrigle-Wainwright clan are putting out a Christmas Hour album.

Should be... nice!

Rachel said...

Alt country is totally legit. I don't generally have christmas music suggestions. But you could come hang out in Austin and go practically anywhere and get a dose of decent christmas country, I'd bet.

arborealprimate said...

Hooray for further McGarrigle/Wainwright stuff. Although young Martha's contribution will inevitably be titled "Merry f***ing Christmas, f***ers". That lady is mighty sweary.