Indie Christmas Music: a new level of music snobbery
While you wouldn’t be able to tell from the weather these past few days, it is in fact Christmastime! Well…technically Advent-time if we’re being nitpicky, but either way, it’s now actually socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music! It’s that wonderful time of the year when we can pull out the best Christmas hits from the Rat Pack and the Claymation classics in addition to the many other timeless standards. But as wonderful as these hits are, they perhaps get a repetitive and worn out. Now I’m sure that many holiday fanatics will protest this, but I’d like to present to you alternatives to these classics to keep your Christmas music playlist fresh. I give you A Very Hipster Christmas.
Now I’m not talking about She and Him or Sufjan Stevens. They aren’t hipster enough. The selections I present to you are far more obscure and therefore so much better…because that’s how it works right?
A Very Hipster Christmas
To listen as you read, check out the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.
We Three Kings – The Wilderness of Manitoba
Just look at this band’s name. Look at it. It alone is enough to make me want to go camping. These two songs from their Christmas album Three Carols combine haunting vocal harmonies with simple folksy instrumentation.
This track comes from a compilation album called Winter’s Night 2011 which also features bands with less hipster cred like Fun. and The Format. I doubt however that you’ve heard of this guy. The track is simple – just a stripped down version of this Christmas classic which feels a bit more delicate than the popular Sinatra’s.
Fair warning on this one: It comes from an album called A Spectacular Bluegrass Christmas. Think of it what you will. I think it is indeed pretty spectacular.
The First Noel – Folk Angel
Folk Angel is a group that only produces folksy/hipsterish versions of Christmas songs. I think their best though are these two from their first album, aptly named Christmas Songs Vol. 1. The newer ones sound like they are trying to hard…which, let’s face it, they probably are.
What Child is This – Downhere
Good King Wenceslas – Downhere
For a Christian rock group, Downhere makes some good stuff. Decide for yourself after listening to these two songs from their album How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas. For some added culture, “What Child of This” even features some French! C’est bon!
I DON’T KNOW WHY EVERY SONG ON THIS ALBUM IS CAPITALIZED. But they are. You may recognize this song with lyrics “Here we come a ’caroling” rather than “here we come a ’wassailing.” Wassailing on the other hand is an ancient southern English drinking ritual
Auld Lang Syne – Beta Radio
Beta Radio puts their own spin on a few popular Christmas tunes on their album The Songs the Season Brings. “O Holy Night” follows the formula of many other songs on this list: slow it down and add guitars and quirky harmonies. “Auld Lang Syne” opts for the only the banjo and few simple harmonies. I know this is technically more of a New Year’s song, but it is probably my favorite of all the songs on this playlist. Sometimes less is more.
Another instrumental track from another group that only produces folksy Christmas music. This one however is less bluegrassy and consists more of just folksy instruments playing the Nutcracker suite note for note which yields interesting results.
Sleigh Ride – Act of Congress
On their album Christmas Volume 1, unlike many of the other songs on this list, Act of Congress makes hipster less chill and melancholy, and more bouncy while still maintaining folksiness.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – The Autumn Lo
On their album Fa la la la la la la la la, The Autumn Lo plays classic Christmas songs on the ukulele. Simple but effective, because the ukulele is just awesome.
Blue Christmas – Vandaveer
Finally some piano! My favorite instrument seems to be underrepresented here amidst all the violins and banjos. Vandaveer in their album XMS2012 uses the piano to make these traditional hits much more intimate.
And we end with a bang – and more ukuleles! I would also be remiss if I did not include something done by Mariah on this list. Again this song takes the hipster in a more happy direction – but how could you do anything else with such a bouncy hit.
And that just about does it! Hopefully my music snobbery wasn’t too nauseating, although that was kind of the point. But hey. Now you can impress/annoy your friends with this eclectic collection of hipster music. And with that, I wish you a very hipster Christmas.
By Elena Giannella ’15