If you’re not already playing Christmas music daily and often, shame on you.
It’s one week until Christmas! What are you waiting for?!
Every year we’re bombarded with every artist’s attempt to gain a few end-of-year dollars by releasing tired old renditions of the same classic Christmas songs every else and their mothers have covered. Well, that’s what people like, and that’s what we all come back to every year. There’s a lot to be critical of, but there’s too much good Christmas music to ignore.
If you want to skip right to it, here’s a Spotify playlist I created for you to get in the Christmas spirit.
Perhaps it’s the nostalgia associated with those old familiar carols and choruses. Whenever I hear certain Christmas songs, I’m transported back to precise moments of my childhood, sitting by a toasty, warm fire and watching snow gently fall on the Minnesota landscape outside the window. I can remember the silly Santa and reindeer symphony album cover when I hear the beginning orchestration of a specific version of Joy to the World.
It just doesn’t feel like Christmas, whether there’s snow or sunshine, if we don’t have the appropriate tunes to go along with the season. So here are my offerings to ensure you can hear at least a few more Christmas songs before the big day arrives and we can join together in singing happy birthday to Jesus.
6 Modern Christmas Albums You’ve Probably Missed
In no particular order, here are a few of the records I’m enjoying this Christmas season.
1. Citizens – “Repeat The Sounding Joy”
Citizens is one of my current favorite bands. I’ve played their self-titled album on repeat for weeks, which I’ll continue as soon as the Christmas season concludes. But until then, I’m jamming to their Seattle-soaked, indie rock versions of Christmas carols on this EP. A grungy voice, contrasting bass and reverb-heavy guitar licks provide a solid, unique departure from predictable arrangements of popular Christmas songs. Standout track: “Come and Stand Amazed.”
2. Future of Forestry – “Advent Christmas EP Volume 3”
Just because it’s the third installment of an ongoing project by one-man indie rock orchestrator, Eric Owyoung, doesn’t mean the new Future of Forestry album isn’t great like the first two were. Do yourself a favor and listen to the previous ones, too. What I like about Future of Forestry is the masterful compositions each song builds into, without getting too busy. Enjoy a few originals he wrote on these albums, too.
3. Sleeping At Last – “Christmas Collection 2013”
This has been one of my favorite parts of the building excitement of Christmas every year. Ryan O’Neal, the solo master artist behind this album, records a new Christmas song annually to add to the collection, so it’s a steady way to build your playlist if you follow along. Sleeping At Last uses a variety of instruments from song to song, yet they always compliment O’Neal’s vulnerable but beautiful voice.
4. She & Him – “A Very She & Him Christmas”
If you’re in search of lighter fare for those relaxed, quiet nights inside, ward off the cold winter evenings with this darling album by She & Him (M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel). Minimal instrumentation and heartwarming harmonies are the name of this game, and they do it quite well.
5. Solid Rock/A Jesus Church – “Gloria”
Solid Rock/A Jesus Church in Portland, Oregon is coming out with some well-written and produced music these days. Soaring reverberating guitars meet a good dose of symphonic crescendos, and a few times they depart the bigger sound for a meandering piano/muddy synth pad reminiscent of Copeland. A few acoustic and piano tunes provide some down time, and a few original songs make the album more interesting than mere covers could offer. Standout track: “Welcome To Our World.”
6. Hillsong – “We Have A Savior”
Hillsong is a group that has released better albums in the past couple years than they have over the whole earlier span of their career. With the past couple years of new Christmas records, including a handful of originals, they’re worth taking a listen to. Some of this album plays into the friendly acoustic folk genre we’ve all come to know, but it provides fun moments for a theologically-heavy Christmas album.
7. Kye Kye – “Noel”
They didn’t release an EP or full-length album, but this version of the classic carol “Noel” is everything you want a Kye Kye song to be. A haunting minor key ensures it’s a unique twist on an often-covered song, and the sweet female vocals soar over the heavy electronic sweeps. This is probably my favorite Christmas song this year, especially because I’m anticipating the awesome, dark, synth-drenched alt-electronic vibe of the new Kye Kye album in early 2014.
What Christmas albums and songs are you enjoying this year?