This is not my first Christmas askme question
October 14, 2020 1:55 AM   Subscribe

I am a huge Christmas person and I start listening to Christmas music basically non-stop in November. To prepare for the advent of me pressing play on the most wonderful time of the year, I would love recommendations of full Christmas albums to add to my collection.

I maintain a huge playlist of Christmas singles in a wide range of genres. I've found a lot of that music from the blogs Christmas Underground and Christmas a Go-Go over the years, but it also includes a lot of the classics. But most of the tracks are one-offs or are the only good song on a so-so album. I'm hoping to weave in some full albums and would love some recommendations!

Here are the ones I already have on rotation:
- Vince Guaraldi trio's Charlie Brown Christmas album
- Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, "It's a Holiday Soul Party"
- Pink Martini, "Joy to the World"
- Aimee Mann, "One More Drifter in the Snow"
- Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick's "One Christmas at a Time"
- Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs"
- and ALL Sufjan Stevens Christmas albums

So as you can see I love the melancholy and the quirky, but I'd like to branch out. I really like all genres but I'm not such a huge fan of the kind of mid-century jingle bell pop you often get at Christmas, your Andy Williamses, your Andrews Sisterses. Just interesting, fun, Christmas music where most of the songs on the album are good.

OH and I'm a secular Christmas celebrant, very open to listening to music about other winter holidays, solstice, Hannukah, general it's-cold-outside music, it's all good.

Thank you all! I did see this question from last year but I think that is focusing on instrumentals.
posted by cpatterson to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Singer-songwriter Chris Trapper has an album of original Christmas songs.
posted by knile at 2:08 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

(messed up my link to tennessee christmas, sorry, here's the correct link)
posted by pmdboi at 2:50 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cee Lo Green's Magic Moment is THE BEST.

Interesting, fun, all songs are good.
posted by cholly at 2:54 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is Christmas - album by James Morrison

I see he has another "Christmas collection" that I'm not familiar with.

James is an Australian jazz trumpet player.
posted by freethefeet at 3:00 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am the same and start listening to Christmas music in October. For full albums I suggest:

Over the Rhine - The Darkest Night of the Year, Snow Angels, Blood Angels in the Snow. All three of these albums are great!

Low - Christmas

Pete Seeger - Traditional Christmas Carols

Mark Kozelek - Sings Christmas Carols

Blue Rodeo - A Merrie Christmas to you

Count Your Blessings - a live compilation album with Jane Sibbery, Holly Cole, Rebecca Jenkins, Mary Margaret O'Hara, and Victoria Williams
posted by fourpotatoes at 3:15 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Booker T and the MGs - In the Christmas Spirit
Classics like you have never heard them before. I first heard this as a backing track on the BBC Adam and Joe show many years ago.
posted by ashtray elvis at 3:17 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

We Three Kings by the Roches is an annual favorite of mine
posted by pangolin party at 3:57 AM on October 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

One of my favorite bands, Murder By Death, is releasing a Christmas album and I'm super excited about it. if the track list looks interesting you can pre-order the digital or vinyl right now, but it will be out on streaming services on December 1.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:00 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm treating this like a leave-a-penny, take-a-penny bowl. From your list I'm going to take Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings because I need Christmas songs from them in my life this year.

In it's place I'll leave John Legend's A Legendary Christmas. He does cover a few of the midcentury classics but the whole album is a smooth and sophisticated delight.
posted by kimberussell at 5:05 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

the Spider-verse gives us: "A Very Spidey Christmas"
posted by alchemist at 5:17 AM on October 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: With the caveat that I myself don't add these WHOLE albums to my holiday playlist, because that would overwhelm the balance, I COULD choose almost any couple of songs from them and be satisfied:

Sia - Everyday Is Christmas
Nick Lowe - Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family
Indigo Girls - Holly Happy Days
Willy Nelson - Pretty Paper (more mid-century classic focused, but still melancholy and quirky)
posted by lampoil at 5:30 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Ohio City Singers.

(Disclaimer of sorts, I know & have worked with these folks.)
posted by soundguy99 at 5:32 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

My wife and I both love this collection that was put out by Starbucks back in 2008: "Winter Wonderland". It's probably our favorite Christmas album.
posted by alex1965 at 5:38 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Complete James Brown Christmas!
posted by aka burlap at 5:57 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My old-school favorite is Jo Stafford's Ski Trails; winter songs, not Christmas, but same effect.

A friend put this on a compilation, Shout for Joy: An Unusual Collection of Traditional Carols, Lisa Neustadt & the Angel Band with Jean Redpath, and I really love it.

Willie Nelson, Pretty Paper.
posted by theora55 at 6:10 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: George Winston, December. Solo piano, not 100% carols, and lovely.

Sting, If On A Winter's Night.... He primly notes that it is more of a "winter" album than a Christmas one, but there are several seasonal songs, some of them super-old medieval stuff, and it's a bit of an antidote to the forced-jollity happy candy-colored stuff. My father listened to a bit when I was listening to it and thought it sounded a little "morbid", but I greatly prefer the quieter and mellower stuff myself. "Melancholy and quirky" it definitely is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on October 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: JD McPherson - Socks
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:59 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nicki Parrott has a lovely jazz Christmas album, Winter Wonderland. And if you don't know Nicki Parrott, here's your gateway drug.

Diana Panton has a great one, too. Soooo smoooooth.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:00 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ana Gasteyer - Sugar and Booze
posted by MadMadam at 7:24 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Bells of Dublin
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:39 AM on October 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

It is old, but please give Harry Belafonte's Christmas album a chance (Re-release 1 is the version I have). One sample song on youtube.
posted by gudrun at 7:56 AM on October 14, 2020 [4 favorites]

For a Christmas album that might not be out of place near Halloween as well, check out Jill Tracy's "Silver Smoke, Star of Night". She's a dark cabaret artist with a tone between melancholy and grinningly macabre, and this is pretty much the only Christmas album I actively like.

(well when I'm not digging out A Brutal Christmas again, hehe)
posted by FatherDagon at 8:16 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Porter Music Box Christmas - Old fashioned large disk music box recordings. Very nice as background music.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:27 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Barenaked for the Holidays by Barenaked Ladies.
posted by neilbert at 8:35 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Fair Folk podcast has a lot of incredible wintery well as a lot of fascinating history on various traditions across Europe.
posted by hannahelastic at 8:40 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can't let this AskMe go by without a previously that made me happier than maybe any other post I have read here: Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas

I have listened to that short album SO MANY TIMES since I learned about it here. *sigh* So good.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:20 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Christmas by Michael Buble
posted by Enid Lareg at 9:42 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Bruce Cockburn, Christmas
(contains the only Huron Christmas carol I've ever heard...)

John Fahey: The New Possibility
solo American primitive guitar renditions. Instrumental only.
posted by blob at 10:01 AM on October 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

Ooh, thought of another one: Stephen Colbert: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
posted by blob at 10:05 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love Leslie Odom Jr.'s (of Hamilton fame) Christmas album, Simply Christmas. I love his voice, but I also love that it's not all happy sparkly pop - some of it feels slightly melancholy to me. I usually listen to it all winter, not just at Christmas.

I also enjoy Michael Buble's Christmas and Josh Groban's Noel but those might not be what you are looking for.
posted by firei at 10:07 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Nat King Cole "The magic of Christmas" or remastered[?] as "Christmas with Nat King Cole"
Hearing him sing "O Holy Night" is just beautiful.
posted by calgirl at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

We love the Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails Vol I, II, III - wide variety/ fun / 'cool'
posted by mrmarley at 3:31 PM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas albums.

Christmas Eve and Other Stories
The Lost Christmas Eve
Christmas Attic
The Ghosts of Christmas Eve
posted by kathrynm at 4:04 PM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you like Vince Guaraldi, you might like A Dave Brubeck Christmas.
posted by jquinby at 4:26 PM on October 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: *stretching and cracking knuckles*

Okay, I have like thousands of hours of Christmas music on my Spotify playlists. Here’s some recent favorites in the good-melancholy-full-album category:

The Oh Hellos’ Christmas Family Album - The Oh Hellos

Snowfall EP - Ingrid Michaelson

Wishing You a Rave Christmas - The Raveonettes

The Dawn of Grace - Sixpence None the Richer

The Hotel Cafe Presents...Winter Songs - Various Artists
posted by photovox at 7:03 PM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jingle bell jazz
posted by sulaine at 7:05 PM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Came in to say Leslie Odom Jr.’s album. Sooooooo good.
posted by bananacabana at 9:19 PM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Vandals - Oi to the World
posted by just_ducky at 9:33 PM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Ventures Christmas Album and Christmas With Chet Atkins are two of my faves. Both are largely instrumental. The former seems to have been made tongue in cheek (Christmas songs morphed in to '60s rock standards) but it's fun.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 5:20 AM on October 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know if this is too mid-century for you, but a heavy rotation for me is A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. For something a little different I also like to listen to the entirety of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.
posted by roadrunner9 at 7:04 AM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I just want to come back into this thread to say there's so much good stuff here I'm probably going to start listening early this year. WHAT A TREAT! And some of you have given me one of my favourite feelings, which is when I get to say, "wait - I love that artist - THEY have a Christmas album?? I had no idea!"
posted by cpatterson at 10:10 AM on October 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Relient K’s Let It Snow, Baby, Let It Reindeer is a huge favorite.

I would have sworn the Bird and the Bee did a holiday album but all I can find is a single for their spooky rendition of “Carole of the Bells.”
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:15 PM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have long, long loved Harry Connick Jr's delightful album When My Heart Finds Christmas, which is a mixture of covers and his original songs, some of which are sad, some sweet and funny and all delightful.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:10 PM on October 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

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