We all have our holiday traditions, and here at Paste we like to share ours with fellow music fans. Every year, we collect playlist of holiday tracks from our favorite artists and offer them to our readers for free download. Check out a little bit about each of the ten tracks below, and download the entire playlist in the player at the bottom of the page.
1. Swear and Shake – “Santa, My First Love”
We’ve been following this Nashville by-way-of Brooklyn band for a while, and this quirky Christmas original represents plenty of reasons why we love them. Between the easy strumming of the instrumentals and strong, bouncy vocals from frontwoman Kari Spieler, we’re tempted to keep this on rotation well after December. The track is one-half of their holiday split single, which also features a rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and is available for purchase via iTunes.
2. Sinclair – “This Christmas”
This indie-pop gem from up-and-comer Sinclair is just one of several originals on All Is Bright, a Christmas playlist put together by the music-lovers over at Amazon that includes performances from Paste favorites Beth Orton, Brandi Carlile, PHOX, Houndmouth and more. It’s damn good cast of performers, and “This Christmas” still manages to stand out with bubbly lyrics and a bouncy chorus.
3. River Whyless – “Jingle Bells”
Asheville-based River Whyless has us eager to hear what’s next, with an appearance at Savannah Stopover on the horizon and rumors of new music to be released in 2015. To tide us over until then, though, this laid-back take on “Jingle Bells” makes for a great go-to when you’ve long tired of the sing-songy original.
4. Powerkompany – “I’m Sorry About Last Christmas”
Powerkompany’s echoing original “Sorry About Last Christmas” gives a humorous, relatable take on the holidays with enough twinkling bells and holiday references to satisfy your inner elf and enough snark to appeal to the Scrooges, too. Hell, lyrics like “Last year all we had was heartbreak / and too much gin & juice” could almost fit year-round—Christmas season, festival season, Valentine’s day—and the wit behind the words is more than enough to point new listeners to this Athens-based band’s 2013 full-length, I Am More Than This.
5. Over the Rhine – “Blood Oranges In the Snow”
Anyone who’s been reading Paste for a few years knows that we’d consider a Christmas song from the ‘unpolished and perfect’ band behind so many beloved albums is a gift in itself. Blood Oranges in the Snow is a fit for any fan of the band, a perfect accompaniment to a snowy winter day and a hot toddy. Listen to the title track in our sampler, and head over to the band’s website to purchase the whole album.
6. The Oh Hellos – “Every Bell on Earth Will Ring”
We’ve been on the lookout for music from Texas band The Oh Hellos ever since we caught their thundering set at Newport Folk Festival this summer. Nothing new’s been announced just yet, but the holidays gave us a pretty great excuse to revisit the band’s 2013 release The Oh Hellos’ Family Christmas Album. Their fresh spin on classic choruses in “Every Bell On Earth Will Ring” is a perfect example of The Oh Hellos’ capability of sounding innovative and comfortably familiar all at the same time.
7. Odessa – “Silent Night”
California-based Odessa has been on a roll this year, earning praise from Paste’s Jim Vorel for her sweet but steely vocals on September’s self-titled EP and impressing at CMJ, too. The future looks to be just as eventful for the songstress, who recently announced a tour with The Lone Bellow and has given fans a holiday treat to boot with her rendition of “Silent Night.”
8. Dwayne Shivers – “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”
Atlanta singer-songwriter Micah Dalton’s new project, Dwayne Shivers, adds a level of depth and understanding to his song “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” Recorded with sobering recent events in the media and the world in mind, Dalton notes that the goal of any perceptive artist is “to seek empathy with the belief that empathy is the tone of lasting peace,” and that idea shines through on this holiday track.
9. James Apollo – “Trim Another Tree”
At long last, this year saw the release of James Apollo’s Angelorum, a carefully constructed nine-song album that was delayed in release after a fire at producer Mark Stockert’s home studio. Closing out 2014 with new music once again, Apollo’s raspy vocals make holiday track “Trim Another Tree” a low-key and jazzy addition to your own tree-trimming playlist.
10. Field Report – “On Christmas Eve”
Milwaukee band Field Report built this Christmas track from the bones of an unfinished song at the request of a fan. “On our last tour, a guy came up afar the show and asked about this tune that we had played with a bit a year ago,” said frontman Chris Porterfield. “He said I should bring it back. I was never crazy about how it came out, but I liked a couple of verses. Those two happened to fall around Christmas. Shane came over and tracked some drums and I built it from there.”
Still not quite satisfied? Check out our samplers from 2012 and 2013 for more curated Christmas goodness.