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Seasonal Favorites Vol. 4 On Dasher, on Dancer, on Fender, on Strat! I guess the moral of my story is "Christmas music doesn't have to be boring." The Double Crown label has just bolstered my case with the fourth volume of Seasonal Favorites, their fabulous series of surf and garage instrumental rave-ups - some new, some old. [let’s rock] (2016)
XO For The Holidays Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. For the ninth straight year, our friends at XO Publicity have compiled a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays. And, you can still pick up volumes one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight - gratis, as usual. [download now] (2016)
Killers A Killer Christmas. As is their habit, Las Vegas' favorite sons The Killers are releasing a holiday benefit for the (RED) foundation. This time it's an album - a compilation of all previous singles plus a new track. It's an iTunes exclusive with a limited edition CD on December 9. [get killed] (2016)
Sharon Jones No Holiday Soul Party This Year. Though it wasn't unexpected, I'm incredibly sad to note the passing of Sharon Jones, whose prodigious, funky Christmas output was compiled in last year's It's A Holiday Soul Party. Jones rose to fame late in life, and she left us far too soon. [learn more] (2016)
Karen Carpenter Better than a tote bag. If you're a Carpenters fan, get ready to support your local PBS station. A newly compiled TV special is airing this season, and you can only get the DVD by pledging. Their albums Christmas Portrait and Old Fashioned Christmas are also being reissued this year - not sure what the deal is yet. [learn more] (2016)
Willie Nelson Pretty Pages. Willie Nelson has released a lot of Christmas music in the past 50 years (read more), starting with the now-standard "Pretty Paper, first recorded by Roy Orbison in 1963. This year, with help from renowned biographer David Ritz, Willie's written a whole book based on the song. [buy now] (2016)
Mailbag Welcome to the 21st Century - again! Last year, I finally piled onto the social media scrum, and I'm looking forward to sharing new releases, golden oldies, and misfit toys for a second year. Check out the Hip Christmas Facebook page, and follow me for maximum holiday fun. [zucker my berg] (2016)
A Blackwatch Christmas VI Red-Nosed Red Dirt. You might not think so, but Norman, Oklahoma is hip. The proof lies in the Blackwatch Christmas series, now in it's sixth year. It's presented by Fowler VW, a local car dealership, and all proceeds benefit public school music education. [okay, OK] (2016)
Jeremih & Chance the Rapper Sign of the Times. This year, I admitted that I can't keep up with the annual online torrent of new Christmas music. As if on cue, one of the year's highest profile releases, Jeremih & Chance the Rapper's Merry Christmas Lil' Mama, was posted for streaming only. [listen now] (2016)
They Might Be Giants Cool band, great price! They Might Be Giants have released their first Christmas song in quite a while - well, I think so, but they put out a lot of stuff.... Anyway, it's called "Christmas In The Big House" (which dovetails nicely with my Christmas Gift For You) and it's free! [get it] (2016)
Norton Records Presents the Wild Sounds of Christmas

the Wild Sounds of Christmas. Legendary New York indie Norton records has finally released a compilation of their Christmas singles - formerly available only on vinyl. This is, indeed, wild stuff - download only, proudly mastered from original 45's. [let's rock] (2016)

Acoustic Christmas A Kinder, Gentler Amazon. In 2014, Amazon started releasing their own Christmas music via playlists starting with All Is Bright and following up with Indie For The Holidays in 2015. This year they introduce Acoustic Christmas including exclusive tracks from Hayes Carll, Inara George, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, and Bob Schneider. [play me] (2016)
A Blackwatch Christmas Vol. V Oklahoma, Well... OK. Blackwatch Studios, a barely legal studio in Norman, Oklahoma, has unleashed their fifth Christmas compilation, imaginatively titled A Blackwatch Christmas Vol. V. It, as well as all previous volumes, is free on Bandcamp. [red, red dirt] (2015)
Carly Jamison

Fifth Time's A Charm. Last year, New York rocker Carly Jamison released not one but four Christmas singles! This year, we'll have to make do with a paltry one - "Christmas May Have To Be Postponed," a whimsical story about missing reindeer and the pursuant mayhem. [find it] (2015)

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets A Quality Holiday. Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets have dropped a suprise "live" album from last year's "Quality Holiday Revue" featuring songs from their collective holiday recordings. Confusingly, it's available in separate MP3 and vinyl listings at Amazon and on CD at Yep Roc. [pure pop] (2015)
Indie For The Holidays Indie For The Holidays. Amazon's at it again (cf. last year's All Is Bright) with a whole playlist of new (or new-ish) music for download - or streaming if you're an Amazon Prime member. Highlights include tracks by the LeeVees, Robert Pollard, Lisa Loeb, and Reverend Horton Heat. [play me] (2015)
Dollyrots Run For Your Life, Rudolph. After releasing a cumulative holiday EP last year, Los Angeles pop punk duo The Dollyrots have come up with an even louder, faster Christmas single. It's available at NoiseTrade, Bandcamp, or the band's website - where much fab gear can be purchased. [go get it] (2015)
XO For The Holidays Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. For the eighth straight year, our friends at XO Publicity have compiled a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume 8. What's more, you can still pick up Volume 1 , Volume 2 , Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, and Volume 7 - gratis, as usual. [download now] (2015)
Joe Bonamassa NoiseTrade Soundcloud Festive Freebies. A lot of Christmas music is free these days, though most websites offer the chance to "name your price" or "tip" - and you should. My favorites this year include The Dollyrots, Beta Radio, and Sofia Talvik, all of whom have made a tradition out their annual Christmas singles, plus Noisetrade's annual Holiday Mixtape. (2015)
Gene Autry Oops. Do you know how it feels when they tell you that God is dead and you're adopted? I do. Recently, I discovered that most of what I thought I knew about Gene Autry's tangled Christmas catalog was wrong. So, I've re-built my discography and re-written my review. [giddy-up] (2015)
Cashing In On Christmas

Still Cashing In On Christmas. After six volumes, I think we get the schtick. Nevertheless, this series of hardcore punk and oi is always amusing - and loud. Last year's volume is still available, only on "yellow snow" or "black coal" vinyl - but you get a free download upon purchase. [cash in] (2015)

Mailbag Welcome to the 21st Century. Hey, I'm on the Facebook! That didn't take long.... Next, I'm going to upgrade my pager! Anyway, like me, follow me, leave angry comments about Trump, whatever - just please share my scintillating and witty click bait. [call to action] (2015)
Weezer Best Single Ever? In 2000, emo/alt-rockers Weezer released a two-song promo called simply Christmas CD. The first track, "Christmas Celebration" is off-the-charts brilliant (see Top 100 Songs), and the second track, "Christmas Song," is pretty great, too. Both have proven scarce over the years, but the band has quietly released it this year on iTunes. [ka-ching] (2014)
Wreckless Eric Wreckless Eric Is On Fire. New wave hero and old school eccentric Wreckless Eric has a new song, "Christmas On The M62," out on Fire Records. He recorded the jaundiced carol with Outside World and partner-in-crime Amy Rigby, and it's a split single with Sterling Roswell, whose "It's A Rockin' Good Christmas" lives up to its title. Stream on Soundcloud or buy on Amazon. [whole wonderful world] (2014)
Paste Yum, Paste! Oh-so-hip steampunk rag Paste is back with their 2014 Holiday Sampler, for download through Noisetrade. This year's sampler is highlighted by Over The Rhine, The Oh Hellos, James Apollo, and Swear And Shake (read more). But, be sure to leave a tip, Ebeneezer. [sticky stuff] (2014)
Joe Bonamassa Bonamassa Means Christmas (Again). For the second year in a row, modern blues artist Joe Bonamassa is offering a free song on his website: Lonesome Christmas, originally recorded by Lowell Fulson in 1951. This year, Joe's making a donation to music education with every free download - whatta deal! [go for it] (2014)
Roger McGuinn There Is A Season. Byrd-meister Roger McGuinn has been releasing free Christmas songs nearly every year since 1995 through his website, The Folk Den - carols, hymns, and other songs consistent with his long-standing crusade for folk music. This year he offers The Cherry Tree Carol - and all previous tracks are available in the archives. [folk you] (2014)
The Ultimate Holiday Soundtrack Free - and worth every Cent! One of my truisms these days is that "music is worthless." Of course, music means a lot to me. But most CD's sell for a pennies, and a lot of music is just given away. Case in point: HGTV has teamed up with NoiseTrade to offer The Ultimate Holiday Soundtrack, 30 tracks from top indie artists such as Over The Rhine - and they aren't even asking for a tip. [twist my arm] (2014)
coal Stuff This. As the coolest record company in the world, Norton Records wants you to take your iPod shove it up your Krampus. Logically, then, most of their long string of rockin' Christmas singles have never been available in any digital format. This year's offering, "Stuffin Her Stockin'" by one-man-band Bloodshot Bill, is no exception - vinyl only, please. [buy now] (2014)
Noise To The World Noise To The World. The Converse sneaker company is giving away some new holiday music as part of their Rubber Tracks series, including tracks from indie faves Deer Tick and Dum Dum Girls. While you're there, pick up last year's playlist, as well, featuring Austin rockers Roxy Roca. [get noisy] (2014)
Santastic Merry Christmash. DJ BC and crew have unreleashed the ninth installment Santastic, their annual free Christmas mash-up. All the former volumes are available, including my favorite, Menorah Mashups, for the inner Jew in all of us. Mostly, these goodies are free - but a donation will be greatly appreciated. Now dance, Sugar Plum Fairy, dance! [do the mash] (2014)
A Very Special Christmas A Really Very Special Christmas. After nearly 30 years of increasingly awful sequels, it's easy to forget what a big deal A Very Special Christmas was back in 1987. It spawned a few hip holiday classics (most notably Run-DMC's "Christmas In Hollis"), but its biggest impact came in the slew of Christmas releases that followed in its wake - and continues unabated to this day. Learn more in Billboard or read my review of the whole, chequered series. [more, please] (2014)
Carly Jamison

I'm Not Ambitious, I'm Hyperactive. Not content with simply releasing one Christmas single, NYC DIY singer, songwriter, and rocker Carly Jamison decided she'd release four: The Happiest Christmas Tree, I'm Getting A Ukulele For Christmas, Oh No Santa Claus, and It Feels Like Christmas Every Single Day, which is a fully realized version of a demo-quality track she offered last year. Anyway, against all odds, all four singles are pretty great! [count 'em] (2014)

Naughty List Kris Kringle, OK! Hard as it may be to conceptualize, there's a Volkswagon dealership that wants to make Norman, Oklahoma the indie Christmas music capital of the world. With the support of Fowler VW, Blackwatch Studios has now released their fourth Christmas compilation, The Naughty List - and all four are free on Bandcamp. (There's even an early, fifth volume, also free....) [download sooner] (2014)
Joe Bonamassa NoiseTrade Soundcloud Festive Freebies. A lot of Christmas music is free these days, though most websites offer the chance to "name your price" or "tip" - and you should. My favorites this year so far are James Apollo, Wreckless Eric, The Dollyrots, and Nick D' & The Believers. I've also discovered a few treasures from Christmases Past: 2009 (Layaways, Illect Recordings), 2010 (Ike Reilly), 2012 (Lindsey Luff, Fiction Family, Graham Colton) and 2013 (Crookes, Sleepwalkers). (2014)
Dollyrots A Rotten Dolly Under the Tree. Los Angeles pop/punkers The Dollyrots have unleased some the loudest (and best) Christmas singles of the past decade. This year, they've put them all on an EP for your convenience. [name your price] (2014)
All Is Bright The Year's Biggest Album Is Not An Album. It's Amazon's exclusive playlist, All Is Bright, which consists of all new recordings by Lucinda Williams, Liz Phair, Yoko Ono and Flaming Lips, and bevy of youngsters. You can buy the tracks individually, but the playlist streams free for Amazon Prime subscribers. Oh, the times they are a-changin'... [get bright] (2014)
XO For The Holidays Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. This is getting to be a habit! For the seventh straight year, our friends at XO Publicity have compiled a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume 7. What's more, you can still pick up Volume 1 , Volume 2 , Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, and Volume 6 - gratis, as usual. [download now] (2014)
Krampus Merry Krampus! Seattle-based indie Green Monkey Records has released their fifth Christmas compilation, this one named for Krampus, the dark companion of St. Nicholas who drags naughty children to hell. The label is run by musician Tom Dyer, who has just released a collection of his own holiday music, Xmas: 30 Years In The Making. [download] (2013)
Stratocruiser Heavy, Man. Over the years, North Carolina band Stratocruiser has progressed from melodic jangle pop to something darker, denser, and heavier. This year's Christmas single, "Put The X Back In Xmas," is part-and-parcel with that evolution, with a deep streak of naughty to go with it. Pick it up at Bandcamp, or download nine years worth of singles bundled as Presents. But, leave a tip, Scrooge. [download] (2013)
Eastside Manor A Noisy Christmas. Our friends at Noisetrade host a lot of exclusive live sessions at the Eastside Manor, their mythic headquarters. This holiday season brings us Eastside Manor Christmas Sessions featuring a wide variety of artists including Jars of Clay, Dave Barnes, and Sara Macintosh - and it's also spotlighted on their YouTube channel. As always, it's free - but tipping is recommended. [download] (2013)
Joe Bonamassa Bonamassa Means Christmas. Premier modern blues artist Joe Bonamassa is offering a free song on his website: Christmas Date Blues, originally recorded by Big Joe Turner in 1948. Fair warning: it starts playing very loudly the moment you load the page, and there's no "off" button. So, if your boss doesn't like the blues, wait till you get home from work - or you'll have the Christmas job blues. [play now] (2013)
Sharon Jones My, What Big Bulbs You Have. Neo-soul queen Sharon Jones is back from a triumphant battle with cancer, so I couldn't be happier to download Big Bulbs free from Google Play. Big Bulbs is just one of six exclusive tracks available for free through Google's Holidays Uncovered promotion, including songs by Nick Lowe, Michael Franti, and Trombone Shorty. [the price is right] (2013)
Slate Where's My White Christmas, Dammit!? Slate Magazine recently published a provocative piece called All I Want for Christmas Is a New Christmas Song. It laments the fact that there have been very few Christmas standards composed over the past 30 or 40 years - and asks why. Could it be the hegemony of Mariah Carey? A sign of end times? Or merely the artistic backruptcy of an entire generation? [read now] (2013)
Hollyberries Catch A Wave. Our favorite Christmas surf band, The Hollyberries, have released a 7-inch vinyl EP compiling four songs previously released only as MP3 downloads. It's called I Wanna Go Surfin' With Santa! and it's available for a limited time only in lovely blue vinyl. [gnarly, dude] (2013)
Whitney Wolanin

Hey, Nice Lamp. Recently I discovered Whitney Wolanin, a full-throated rock 'n' blues singer with an affinity for Christmas music. She's just released a smokin' version of Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" accompanied by a hi-larious video parody of A Christmas Story. Previously, she released three holiday singles - "Christmas (The Warmest Time Of The Year)," "Silver Bells," and "Frosty The Snowman" - followed by an album, Christmasology. [shoot your eye out] (2013)

Rhett Miller Run Rhett Run. As frontman for the Old 97's, one of Texas' finest alternative country bands, Rhett Miller waxed a couple of Christmas songs including the lovelorn original Here It Is Christmas Time (2007). He's recorded a new track, Christmas Is Coming, under his own name along with emerging singer/songwriter Sydney Wayser. Available through Noisetrade, name your own price. [download] (2013)
Eric Carmen Happy New Year from a Raspberry. Longtime hitmaker Eric Carmen has a new collection, The Essential Eric Carmen, coming out in 2014. It'll have lots of hits - both from his solo records and his days as lead singer for The Raspberries - but the big news is that it includes his first new first new recording in over 15 years, "Brand New Year." For a limited time, download it for free at Soundcloud. [old acquaintance] (2013)
Roger McGuinn Christmas Is Going To The Byrds. Roger McGuinn has been releasing free Christmas songs nearly every year since 1995 through his website, The Folk Den - carols, hymns, and other songs consistent with his long-standing crusade for folk music. This year he offers It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - and all previous tracks are available in the archives. [folk you] (2013)
Holiday HAAM Jam Keep Austin Wired, Yet Again. For the third year in a row, the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians has compiled Holiday HAAM Jam, a benefit album to help local musicians stay on the right side of the topsoil. This year's edition features Joe Ely, Reckless Kelly, Dale Watson, Vallejo, and more. Also see Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. [cut a slice] (2013)
XO For The Holidays Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. This is getting to be a habit! For the sixth straight year, our friends at XO Publicity have compiled a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume 6. What's more, you can still pick up Volume 1 , Volume 2 , Volume 3, Volume 4 and Volume 5 - gratis, as usual. [download now] (2013)
Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights

The Why Of Christmas. Most books address the who, what, when, and where of Christmas music. Ronald Lankford's new book Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights answers the question of why America wrote and embraced the holiday songs we did. How did they reflect our culture, and how did they subsequently shape that culture? The answer's not a simple as you might think. [learn more] [buy] (2013)

coal I Got Coal. Every year, I wish for a great CD compilation from Norton Records or Damaged Goods - two cool labels who put out tons of great Christmas singles. Every year, I get coal instead. Nevertheless, both companies have easy-to-browse web pages full of Yuletide delights - mostly vinyl, naturally. [Norton] [Damaged Goods] (2013)
Marcie and Anthony Webster Take That, Lana. Dance duo Marcie and Anthony Webster have created their own happy holiday version of Lana Del Ray's mopey hit Summertime Sadness. It's Holiday Time Gladness, and it's available for a limited time only as a free download through Sendspace. [download] (2013)
Amazon MP3 The Price Is Right. As has been their habit for several years, Amazon is giving away a Christmas MP3 every day during December, and some of them are some of them pretty hip including Erasure, Marvin Sapp, John Fahey, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Carole King. [gimme gimme gimme] (2013)
Santastic Merry Christmash. Now in their ninth year, the DJ BC and crew have released eight volumes of Santastic Christmas mash-ups and more, including my favorite, Menorah Mashups, for the Chanukah celebrant in your family. Mostly, they're free - but a donation will be greatly appreciated. Now dance, Sugar Plum Fairy, dance! [do the mash] (2013)
Dollyrots Walker Claus. Our favorite post-modern girl group, The Dollyrots, have a new free Christmas single available for download on both Noisetrade and Fanbridge. Called "I Saw Mommy Biting Santa Claus," it's the musical companion to the book written by Matt Mogk and illustrated by Chad Lewis. The song is also available for purchase in high def WAV and FLAC. [listen] [buy] [watch] (2013)
Paste Yum, Paste! Oh-so-hip steampunk rag Paste is offering their 2013 Holiday Sampler for absolutely nothing through Noisetrade. Artists include Sufjan Stevens, Nick Lowe, Otis Redding, and Bright Eyes. But, be sure to leave a tip, Ebeneezer. [sticky stuff] (2013)
Ian McGlynne Christmas Past (and Present). Modern folkie Ian McGlynne has a totally free three-song EP for download on Noisetrade - but it promotes his new six-song EP that you should totally buy - OK, dude? It's called North Pole Vault EP, and it follows his previously released the singles "Listen To The Choir Sing" (2009) and "The Snow Angel And The Icicle Sword" (2010). [freeload] [pay up] (2013)
Dave Stewart Christmas Dreams Are Made of This. Dave Stewart, formerly one-half of the Eurythmics, recorded Cocktail Christmas "for family and friends a year or two ago." So far it's not for sale, but you can listen for free at Soundcloud. Dave describes it simply as a "fun album," a description borne out by its casual, cocktail lounge tone. On the other hand, it contains several original songs. [listen & share] (2012)
Philco Brothers Rain, Sleet, Snow. Massachusetts rockers the Philco Brothers have a ramshackle, vintage sound, but they live in the modern world: They post their music exclusively on YouTube. And, they've put out a Christmas video every year since 2008. This year, it's a bang-up version of Paul Revere & The Raiders' Rain, Sleet, Snow. Previous videos include Christmas Time (Sure Don't Feel Like It) (2008), Christmas In Morningdale (2009), Santa Claus (2010), and Mistletoe & Holly (2011). [watch now] (2012)
KDHX Ring the Bells, Bang the Drums. Visit 88.1 KDHX, community radio in St. Louis, to listen to "KDHXmas 2012," the station's second annual collection of holiday tunes recorded live in their studios. "It's pretty festive!" says web editor Roy Kasten. Stream it for free (with some songs downloadable) via SoundCloud. These 17 performances are previously unreleased and not available elsewhere, and there's a little something for everyone - pop, rock, soul, folk, and blues. [listen now] (2012)
Hanukkah Vs. Christmas Hanukkah Vs. Christmas. Just when I thought I could find any golden oldies to get excited about this year, here comes 'Twas the Night Before Hanukkah: The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights - easily the most impressive reissue of the season. It's like a more studied, serious version of my own article, Jews for Jesus: Christmas Records by the Chosen People. Wow! [spin the dreidel] (2012)
John Waters Jingle Bells Rock, Dammit. Our long-suffering friend Stubby Fears makes a well-spoken, impassioned case for Christmas music that rocks, rolls, swings, twangs, or whatever. But, what he's really hyping is a movie about people like us - Jingle Bell Rocks, directed by Mitchell Kezin, featuring John Waters, El Vez, Clarence Carter, and more. Mitchell needs a few dollars to finish it up, and he's set up an IndieGoGo account to make it happen. [jingle this] (2012)
Holiday HAAM Jam Keep Austin Wired, Again. Here's another one for my homies - Holiday HAAM Jam, Vol. 2, a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians that's perhaps even more star-studded than last year's inaugural edition. Features Carolyn Wonderland, Clint Black, Jimmy Lafave, Guy Forsyth, Asleep at the Wheel, Joe King Carrasco, and many more. [cut a slice] (2012)
Power Chords, Harmonies, and Mistletoe Power Chords, Harmonies, and Mistletoe. I just learned about this 2011 compilation from Twist Records - mostly recent power pop recordings, with a few rare, vintage gems sprinkled on top. It is, frankly, exactly what is says it is, with a pretty high batting average. It may not be easy to find, but you can definitely download a copy from CD Baby. [jangle this] (2012)
Helen Love Love for Christmas. The Damaged Goods label from England has released a long and tawdry series of Christmas singles, and a couple of years ago they compiled many of them on A Damaged Christmas Gift for You. Now, one of their frequent flyers, Helen Love, has joined forces with Ricardo Autobahn (one half of the Cuban Boys) for a new single, "And The Salvation Army Band Plays." A very limited run of the 45 will be available through the label, and the rest of us can download the track from all the usual places. [oompah oompah] (2012)

Tarheel Tinsel. North Carolina rockers Stratocruiser are offering yet another Christmas freebie - "Santa, We're Through" - through Bandcamp, following up on last year's compilation of their annual Christmas singles, Holiday Music. This one tells the tales of a philandering St. Nick who steals the singers girlfriend - bro's before ho's, dude! [get yours now] (2012)

XO For The Holidays Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. This is getting to be a habit! For the fifth straight year, our friends at XO Publicity have compiled a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume V. What's more, you can still pick up Volume I , Volume II , Volume III, and Volume IV - gratis, as usual. [download now] (2012)
Norton Records I Hate CD's! Our friends at Norton Records - who have given us many wonderful Christmas records over the years - were hit hard by Super Storm Sandy. Their office and warehouse in Prospect Heights were flooded, ruining much of their inventory. If you feel like buying some great garage rock and R&B, I know that Norton will appreciate the support, and they are also accepting donations at their website. [where loud sound abounds] (2012)
Holiday HAAM Jam Keep Austin Wired. Here's one for my homies - Holiday HAAM Jam, a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, with Shelley King, Jon Dee Graham, Kevin Welch, and many more. Available for download, plus a limited number of CD's through local outlets. [cut a slice] (2011)
The Killers A Killer Christmas. Las Vegas modern rockers The Killers' annual holiday release is The (RED) Christmas EP, an iTunes exclusive which compiles five years of singles plus one new track, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball." [download] (2011)
Eve Searls Fruit Cakes Made of Stone. Ready to crawl under a rock this holiday season? Join the Black Swans and singer Eve Searls (Bird & Flower) who lament the annual family holiday ritual on their new single, "Christmas Alone." "My family gives me the blues," sings Eve. Can you relate? [stream or download] (2011)
Vibeke How stupid does this record look? It's great! Back in 2008 her record company said, "All the way from Norway comes a power pop powerhouse called Vibeke ready to introduce herself to America in a big way!" Well, that didn't happen, but look what we got! [hit the slopes] (2011)
Michael Stipe of R.E.M. What's the Frequency, Santa? R.E.M. announced their break-up a short while ago. What better way to honor their legacy than reading my recently-updated review of their multifarious fan club Christmas singles? [read more] (2011)
The Plimptons If it ain't Scottish, It's Crap! From way across the pond comes a free three-song EP of Christmas punk rock. Christmas All Over This Town is a noisy holiday present from The Plimptons, a five-piece D.I.Y. band from Glasgow. [shake it with me] (2011)
Creative Loafing Festive Loafing. Pick up For the Kids! Creative Loafing's Holiday Mixtape for a dose of Christmas rock 'n' roll and a warm, fuzzy feeling. Proceeds benefit the The Children's Home in Tampa, Florida. You pay what you want, but don't be a scrooge, Ebeneezer. [loaf now] (2011)

Tarheel Tinsel. North Carolina rockers Stratocruiser are offering yet another Christmas freebie - "Anytown USA" - through Bandcamp. Even better, they've compiled seven years of their annual Christmas singles on a new EP, Holiday Music. [get yours now] (2011)

XO For The Holidays, Volume II Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. This is getting to be a habit! For the fourth straight year, our friends at XO Publicity have compiled a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume IV. What's more, you can still pick up Volume I , Volume II , and Volume III - gratis, as usual. [download now] (2011)
Futureheads Single of the Year. In my new release wrap-up, I repeatedly bemoan how more and more singles are flooding the market later and later in the season. Well, what I think is the best new track this year hit the streets on December 21 - the Futureheads' "Christmas Was Better In The 80's." So, far, it's an iTunes exclusive in America. [download] (2010)
Rich Russo Yule Rock with Rich. Don't miss DJ Rich Russo's annual Christmas special from 9pm-12am EST this Sunday, December 19. Rich's Anything Anything broadcast on 101.9 RXP is the only completely free form radio show in New York. [listen now] (2010)

Power Pop Presents. North Carolina-based rockers Stratocruiser are offering a freebie called "Presents" through their website (where you can also purchase a CD with their previous Christmas tracks). Great song, but I think my favorite part is the Led Zeppelin-inspired cover art.... [download now] (2010)

Carolyn Wonderland and Guy Forsyth

Keep Austin Merry. Two favorites from my hometown - Carolyn Wonderland and Guy Forsyth - are releasing a Christmas album called Fireside Songs For The Soul. So far, it's available exclusively through Guy's store in The Connextion. [pre-order now] (2010)

XO For The Holidays, Volume II Hugs and Kisses For Xmas. My friends at XO Publicity slipped me the link for their lastest free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume III - which includes two tracks by indie sweetheart Piney Gir.What's more, you can still pick up Volume I and Volume II - all for doodly squat! [download now] (2010)
Seasonal Favorites Twang This. If you like garage and surf, get your wallets out and head over to Double Crown Records to pick up the third volume of their smashing series Seasonal Favorites. [order now] (2010)

Bust Your Buns. I've just discovered that the Crossfires - a band who evolved into the Turtles - reissued their Sundazed CD on MP3. Out Of Control is filled with screaming surf instrumentals, but for folks like us the attractions are the classic goof "Santa & The Sidewalk Surfer" and it's rare b-side, "Living Doll." [listen & download] (2010)

MxPx It's a Punk Rawk Christmas. Christian band MxPx have put out a Christmas song every year for about a decade - mostly exclusive releases for their fan club. Last year, they compiled them on an album for the rest of us - available for download on Amazon or in two different CD versions - one through Amazon, the other through [listen & learn] (2009)
Bob Dylan Must Be Zimmy. Bob Dylan's 2009 album Christmas In The Heart can be, to put it mildly, a difficult listen. One of the clear highlights, though, is his rollicking rendition of "Must Be Santa," and he's just released an equally rambunctious video for the song. [view & listen] (2009)
Blondie Heart of 'mas. Last yer, lovely Debbie Harry and the boys in Blondie recorded their first Christmas song since the obscure "Yuletown Throwdown" some 30 years ago. This one is a rockin' take on "We Three Kings" - and it's free! [download now] (2009)
XO For The Holidays, Volume II Hugs and Kisses For Christmas. My friends at XO Publicity slipped me the link for a free sampler of hip tunes - XO For The Holidays, Volume II - which includes a track by sultry Austin transplant Jessie Torrisi. Because I'm a sly dog (and complusive cat), I figured out how to get the first volume. Hey, free is free. [download now] (2009)
Ralph Feinnes Song Title of the Year. In my obsessive web wanderings, I uncover some crazy stuff. My favorite tidbit lately is a song called "We'll Both Be Dead By Christmas." Composed by Alberto Iglesias for the The Constant Gardener (2006), it is, sadly, not really a Christmas song - just incidental music from the soundtrack. [buy it anyway] (2009)
Michael Jackson A Jackson 5 Christmas. Following his untimely death, a flurry of Michael Jackson-related product hit the market - not all of it exploitive, including the Jackson 5's I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters and Ultimate Christmas Collection. Read my Jackson 5 review or my Motown history at Randy's Rodeo. (2009)
Pretenders Digital Delights. The CD is barely breathing, and here's proof: three cool, popular bands - who could sell plenty of CD's if they wanted to - have released download-only Christmas EP's. There's the Pretenders' Holiday EP (an iTunes exclusive), the Raveonettes' Wish You A Rave Christmas, and Weezer's Christmas With Weezer. (2008)
Tom Tom Club Genius of Yule. A lost treasure from my Christmas Wish List is back - for the first time! The Tom Tom Club's "Christmas At The Club" (b/w "Il Est Né") is being released on both 7-inch vinyl and CD single. The songs have previously been available only as MP3 downloads. [get yours] (2007)
Keith Richards MP3 Delights. 2007 was the first season I've seen appreciable Christmas releases distributed exclusively as MP3 downloads - not just obscure indie toss-offs, but significant artists and important reissues. To an old fogey like me, the big news was stuff like Ferlin Husky's 1967 LP, Christmas All Year Long, and Keith Richards' 1978 single, "Run Rudolph Run" - both never released on CD. [more new releases] (2007)
Brook Benton Soul Santa. Brook Benton recorded several classic Christmas singles, including one of the few "black pride" holiday tunes, "Soul Santa" (1971). But, he never recorded a Christmas album during his prime. When he finally did, it was a disappointing effort - and the story just gets worse. [read more] (2006)
Holiday Heart Holiday Heart. Subtitled An Eclectic Aural Celebration of Christmas and Chanukah, this festive, alternative-leaning double CD raises awareness of hospice care and raises money for the Saint Barnabas Hospice Center in New Jersey. [purchase|read more] (2005)
To Kate A Benefit For Kate's Sake. Very nearly a "who's who" of Americana, To Kate is a Christmas CD benefiting the Children's Organ Transplant Association in honor of Kate Kirk, a youngster in recovery after a life-saving blood transplant. Joe Ely, Steve Earle, Raul Malo, more. [purchase] (2005)
Bing Crosby Dreaming Of A Crosby Christmas. Bing Crosby may not be a paragon of hip, but he made more Christmas music than anyone this side of Charles Brown. Read my brand new review of Der Bingle's Christmas catalog - from "White Christmas" to "Do You Hear What I Hear." [read more] (2005)
Everly Brothers Um, Hooray! One of the last important missing Christmas CD's has been released by Rhino - Christmas With The Everly Brothers And The Boys Town Choir (1962). The problem is, it's not very good. But, to fans - especially those interested in the Collector's Choice Warner-era reissues - it's still a must-have. [read more] (2005)
KOOP Radio Santa's Got His Mojo Working. Catch webmaster Randy Anthony on KOOP Radio Austin 91.7 FM, Sunday, December 18, from 1:00-3:00pm. Randy joins rhythm & blues spinmeister Tracy Hightower on her show, Mojo Time, to share some butt rockin' Christmas tunes. [read more] (2005)
Winter Dance Party This Time, Nobody Dies. You probably know the story of how Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash while on tour in 1959. You may even know that Waylon Jennings gave up his seat to Holly on that fateful night. But, do you know the name of the tour? It was the Winter Dance Party, and it's happening again on December 22 at the Carousel Lounge in Austin, Texas. [see more] (2005)

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