Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Christmas Albums

How about some holiday music? Hear too much already? Bah humbug, well you’ve simply heard too much of the same old crap that fills the space between your radio dials and the grand halls of your local shopping center. You have, most likely as I have, heard Jingle Bells and Little Saint Nick just one to many times while shopping, working, or driving. All the same I have a great fondness of Christmas music, contemporary or otherwise, and I’ve decided to put a short list of my favorites together. The thought came to me while digging through my iTunes library on a day off. My freshmen roommate has left me with a well loved bias against singles and love for the experience of a complete album; the sort of collections of songs that would be worthy of heavy pressed vinyl and cardboard sleeves exploding with colorful artwork. So, for now, on with the list:

1. A Very She & Him Christmas – Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward – 2011

Hopefully you’ll be having a few friends and acquaintances by this Christmas Eve. And no matter if they are the closet of friends, comfortably distant relatives, or even long lost lovers your going to want some music to fill that void of silence as coats are collected and guest made comfortable. How about A Very She & Him Christmas an album of mostly covers of classics and soon to be classics? Simple lyrics with just the right number of accompanying studio musicians to fill out the melody make for the perfect relaxing background to even the most awkward of reunions. This is a rather new album for me but maybe it’ll become part of your seasonal standbys too.

2. Holiday Sprits – Straight No Chaser – 2008

Now for an album with even less accompaniment, actually to be exact no accompaniment. Yes another a capella group, yes the most cliché of all a capella groups, yes they are main street sellouts. Guilty on all counts, but they’ve nailed that perfect sound. A mix of Boy Band pop like the backstreet boys and college glee clubs that just sounds right. If you don’t enjoy this album in the background of your next holiday get together then you are a truly jaded soul.

3. Barenaked for the Holidays – Barenaked Ladies – 2004

If you enjoy the goofy lyrics of Straight No Chaser’s 12 Days of Christmas then you’ll most likely love what has to be one of my all time favorites Barenaked Ladies’ Barenaked for the Holidays. You’ve probably heard their version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, my favorite version of my favorite Christmas Carol. It is, just as SNC’s 12 Days the outlier of the album over all. This short carol is a small spot of seriousness within an otherwise fanciful and somewhat facetious album. Have no fear though, the album still captures a very real set of emotions truly unique to the holidays and all of us who have lived through a Christmas outside the confines of a Normand Rockefeller Portrait.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi - 1965

Speaking of classics how about Saturday morning comics and network Christmas Specials. This album is the perfect family gathering album. No one in your family can play the piano? No worry Schroder has your back. Dad picks out a crummy tree? Charlie knows his pain. Family issues? Counseling is a nickel or two away. Sit back, embrace the chaos of the latest family drama and turn on this classic.

5. Christmas with the Rat Pack – The Rat Pack – 2002

After dinner is over don’t bother cleaning up, it can wait. Go mix your self a martini or pour yourself J&B and soda and sit back and tap your foot. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.; Game, Set, and Match. This is simply the perfect Christmas album. It has all the classics and more style then you can shake a stick at. Never in my life have I heard Jingle Bells or Rudolph while at work or shopping and not thought to my self I’d rather be lessoning to the Rat Pack.

Now this is the most cliché post I’ve written in long time, justly so because it is simply that time of year. For a moment we all get to be saps. We get to reminisce about Christmases past that in reality where never as grand as we remember. It is this time of year that we dive into the insanity of another shopping season, gather with love ones, or simply sit back and throw on another album while we sink into our chairs at night and remember what was and what could have been. The music is just the sound track. We make all the memories our selves. But what better way to capture existence, even if just for a moment, then with a few old Christmas Favorites? So put some records on while I pour…

~ Disclaimer! ~
These albums listed in no particular order! I guarantee I skipped you favorite. Feel free to discuses and argue among yourselves and post your own favorites in the comments. Merry Christmas!

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