For the Record: A very indie holiday mix

Victor Kidwell, Features Editor

A complete indie holiday playlist for anyone searching for a unique but wintery feel. Find the playlist at the bottom of this article. (Photo via Spotify)

Are you looking for a fresh selection of holiday music? Whether you’re a veteran indie music-lover or you’ve grown tired of the traditional holiday tracks, The Lasso has you covered. In this edition of For the Record, I’m honored to present you with a far more alternative selection of music as you count down the days leading up to winter break. 

“Silver Bells” has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols, and this rendition by Bright Eyes is a much more lofi and homegrown take on the classic holiday track. The track feels as if the band is just a group of friends caroling for the holidays, which makes it all the more merry and bright.

“Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? Well, You Deserved It!” is a Christmas classic featured on folk genius Sufjan Stevens’ first of his two Christmas albums. The song is about as upbeat as the title suggests, as we follow the singer in his ill-fated attempts to help his friend struggling with seasonal depression. Additionally, the band Peach Pit sings a cover of the song, adding more electric guitar and a more energetic tempo to Sufjan’s typical downtempo banjo and providing a more festive sound.

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers is the queen of indie Christmas tunes, and her song “7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night” just proves it. This song reworks the original concept that folk duo Simon and Garfunkel created in 1966, and adds a much more eerie feel. The track, featuring the one and only Fiona Apple, reminds listeners that everyday life doesn’t stop for the holidays.   

“We’re The Lucky Ones” by The Marias was released in 2020, amidst the global pandemic. The track tries to reconcile the cheeriness of the season amidst the great loss the entire country faced, and it’s definitely still relevant today. The holidays can be a really tough time with memories of lost loved ones and even just the darkness of the weather, so make sure to reach out if you need any help. The guitar hook is one of my favorite ones on this list, and the soaring vocals of Maria Zordoya really make the somber yet hopeful tone of this song work. 

“Carol Of The Bells” by the Skatune Network is exactly what you’d expect: an instrumental  cover of “Carol Of The Bells.” With the brass and added fuzzed-out guitar, it adds energy and spunk to an old and solemn carol. 

For a non-denominational winter holiday song, check out the tune “Winter Now.” It’s a whimsical and dreamy dance, perfect for tromping through the snow. Aughts psychedelic-pop band Broadcast knows their niche with music even Jack Frost would love. 

“Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen only mentions December, but the mood of the soft guitar and atmosphere cements it as one of my favorite winter songs. It’s actually one of my favorite songs of all time—Leonard Cohen clearly shows off his stunning lyricism in this acoustic waltz. You can’t help but shiver at this melodic love letter. 

Hanukkah songs received significantly less indie-fication than the vast catalog of Christmas songs, but “Eight Candles” is a soft and beautiful piece by Yo La Tengo. Subdued, yet catchy, sure to put you in the Hanukkah spirit. Similarly, I also recommended Jack Black’s “Oh Hanukkah” cover from the same holiday compilation, which is about as bizarre as it sounds. 

“Blue Spruce Needles” by The Boy Least Likely To is a compelling addition to the Christmas canon. The acoustic twee pop reminds me of the band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, with the lyricism following a similar story to that of “Last Christmas” by Wham! 

I have to say, while I may be biased with the pick of “White Winter Hymnal,” it is an exceedingly snowy tune that fits right into the rest of the songs here. Here, the singer looks back onto winters as a child, remembering him and his friends “all swaddled in their coats” with “scarves of red tied round their throats.” It reminds me of the nostalgic feel of the 1983 film “A Christmas Story.”

Finally, rounding off the melancholy mood of the previous tracks listed is an energetic rendition of “Feliz Navidad” by shame. It’s practically impossible to hold back from dancing in some fashion to this tune, and it’ll bring light to even the darkest of winters.

Find the complete playlist below. Happy listening and happy holidays!