Every year posts like this crop up, and whilst it's always kinda samey you just can't deny there's something satisfying about Christmas songs that are all forlorn and reverb-drenched and alternative. So I thought I'd have a go - here's a very cliché alternative Christmas playlist to have you feeling hip over the holidays.
RIDE - LIKE A SNOWFLAKE
The best of the shoegaze bands that you hear about way too much, as much as is possible as a reunited act, Ride have literally owned this year. So it's timely to whip out their half-arsed rework of their 1990 banger Like A Daydream. Recorded for fun 24 Christmasses ago, this was a promotional one-sided 7' they dished out. It's everything a loveable Christmas song should be, kinda crap, kinda half arsed, but really fucking fun. Hear it here.
SUFJAN STEVENS - AWAY IN A MANGER
SUFJAN. Darling. Angel. Bae. Queen. Stevens has recorded a few Christmas records that meld trad carols with modern original compositions. This is one of the most notable because his beautiful li'l celestial voice caresses a song you've heard a million times in a way that is just so enjoyable. Give it a try. He also does one called That was the worst Christmas ever, and it's just... gosh. I am done here.
LOW - CHRISTMAS
This is the perfect indie Christmas song - the band kinda compromise their trademark slowcore sound, enough to make it fun and festive, but not enough to take away it's cool-ness. There's a reason lots of aloof musos cite this as the best Christmas song, because it probably is... Listen to it here
JULIAN CASABLANCAS - I WISH IT WAS CHRISTMAS TODAY
This one is so worth it, if only for the single cover. The Strokes' incredibly cool frontman delivers here on a Christmas number that treads the line between serious art and seasonal parody like a bird on the wire. Along with 11th Dimension, this is the early solo work that made me think yanno maybe arkid's solo career is worth paying attention to. (then he released Tyranny, which fucking rules) (listen to the Christmas number here)
SMASHING PUMPKINS - CHRISTMASTIME
Whether or not the song should exist is something that you ask yourself with most entries on this playlist, but with The Smashing Pumpkins' Christmastime that is something you can't help but wonder. What has happened? Why is Corgan happy and welcoming? What is going on? This is a gem and you should give it a whirl, here.
THE FALL - HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING
OK, AGAIN- why does this exist? Mark E Smith gets his Christmas groove on here, and has roped in a choir too. This is priceless, this is so priceless. But at the same time, it brings forth a bigger issue; imagine being round Smith at Christmas. That doesn't bear thinking about.
CROCODILES & DUM DUM GIRLS - MERRY XMAS, BABY (PLEASE DON'T DIE)
US underground heroes collab on a fuzzy Christmas song. There should be more shoegaze Christmas songs, for real though. Give it a listen here
MEDICINE - CHRISTMAS SONG
So there is more *-shoegaze-* Christmas songs? Count me in. In truth, this 1992 number by US band Medicine doesn't sound so Christmassy, but is pretty fucking great. Anyone that likes should check out their Shot Forth Self Living debut, because that's pretty damn good.
COCTEAU TWINS - FROSTY THE SNOWMAN
This one makes me queasy, and not in a fun way. That is all. (hear it)
THE POGUES AND KIRSTY MACCOLL - FAIRYTALE IN NEW YORK
Nah nah nah, I get what you're maybe thinking - this isn't so alternative - it's on in Asda all the time. But bar this, the Pogues are underground heroes, if you didn't know, and this song has only achieved that legendary status by being SO DAMN GOOD. This is the best Christmas song, because it's the best song, and every single second of it makes the hairs on my neck stand up no matter what. Put it on to get into the festive spirit, and if you listen and don't agree with me, I'll shank you in the most Christmassy way possible.
Go forth and have an indie Christmas, listen to Sufjan and cry into your brandy about the state of your life. xoxo
(written by calum cashin)