Alternative Christmas Music

I don’t particularly care what Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet sound like around the holiday season. If there’s any blessing that comes on December 26th, it’s that stores and radio stations stop playing the same 25 Christmas songs on repeat and start playing the stuff that musicians actually want to record.

For all you other curmudgeons who can’t tolerate the sounds of the season, there are a couple of new releases floating around you can ironically play as subversive soundtracks for gift-wrapping and in-law ignoring over the next few days. 

Kreezus 

The fine folks at Los Angeles based Local Business Comedy found gold in their stocking with their Kanye West reboot Kreezus, a Kris Kringled interpretation of Mr. West’s genre-splitting 2013 release Yeezus. The recording production is iffy and the backing vocals are comedically awful, but the ideas are full-strength on tracks like “New Sleighs” and “Hold My Eggnog.” No detail is left undecorated, the best ideas saved for Yeezus’s most quotable lines, which fans of the album should recognize instantly.

“Meanwhile the DMV/teamed up with the Ski-MV/they tryna lock sledders up/they tryna make new sleighs”

“Eatin’ Christmas cookies/all I need is milk as dipping sauce”

And of course the seminal, “Fuck them other reindeer/cause I’m down with my reindeer.”

It’s all good stuff, mostly because my ears are accustomed to Mr. West’s politically and sexually charged lyrics when these beats drop, and when elves and tinsel come into the picture, it’s impossible not to chuckle. Yeezus remains relevant, even through a so-bad-it’s-good holiday rendition, and I hope Kanye and his own merry band of elves allow this album to stay online for years to come.

A Los Campesinos! Christmas 

Christmas music rarely involves pathos, which is a shame considering it’s often at it’s open-heart best when it does. So if the entire point of playing Christmas music in your household is to spread joy and celebration, then you might want to avoid A Los Campesinos! Christmas entirely.

The beautiful musicians in Los Campesinos! make sad music, and their snarky depression shines well through the bells and choruses on their Christmas EP. The familiar Campesinos! tropes emerge: hopelessness, breakups, alienation, all packaged neatly in a mood that is designed to eschew all those things. It’d be a tough dynamic for a lesser band to balance, but Gareth Campesinos! and company are too talented to let something as wonderful as the Christmas season ruin their dour moods. And as an added bonus, it sounds vaguely cheery enough to convince your family that, yes, you are indeed placating their wishes by playing a Christmas record. Just make sure they don’t read the lyrics sheet.

 

 

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