Alternative Xmas

Alternative anthems for the festive season

Thursday 6th December 2018

Christmas is just around the corner and those classic hits have been ringing out for weeks. The novelty of Noddy Holder proclaiming ‘It’s Christmas’ is probably, by now, beginning to wear off.

Whilst there are plenty of other Christmas albums you can listen to, from Phil Spector's 'A Christmas Gift For You' (1963) to Geffen Records' ‘Just Say Noel’ (1996), we thought we'd put together a playlist of alternative Christmas anthems from Subculture favourites new and old.

Merry Christmas...


ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A DUKLA PRAGUE AWAY KIT
Half Man Half Biscuit
1986

This was the B-Side to the Wirral indie bands debut single 'The Trumpton Riots'. A sardonic look at class and privilege via the kid who had everything growing up (Subbuteo, Scalextric). Now has a more modern resonance with the trend towards vintage sportswear and retro football kits in recent years.


CHRISTMAS WAS BETTER IN THE 80'S
The Futureheads
2010

A single that was the perfect blend of all the trademark indie pop ingredients you expect from the Futureheads with a bucket of Christmas cheer thrown on top, albeit via a heavy dose of nostalgia.


CHRISTMASTIME
The Smashing Pumpkins
1997

Taken from 'A Very Special Christmas 3' a series of themed compilations that benefit the Special Olympics. Put out during a time of transition for the band, when they were veering away from the guitar-based rock of 'Mellon Collie' and their other previous records and experimenting more with electronica on 1998's 'Adore'.


A SNOWFLAKE FELL (AND IT FELT LIKE A KISS)
Glasvegas
2008

This is the title track from a 6-track EP from the Scottish indie group. It was released just a couple of months after their acclaimed eponymous debut album as a download only or on CD as part of a deluxe edition of their album, this became a firm favourite amongst their devoted fans.


JUST LIKE CHRISTMAS
Low
1999

The opening number from 'Christmas' the aptly named 8-track EP from the Minnesota slowcore band which was released for free, as a gift to fans. An uncharacteristically upbeat jingle and relatively fast-paced (by Low's standards).


I WISH IT WAS CHRISTMAS TODAY
Julian Casablancas
2009

A tongue-in-cheek Christmas song from SNL (Saturday Night Live) that dates back to 2000. The ex-Strokes frontman released this cover around the same time as his debut solo album 'Phrazes For The Young' and was included as a bonus track with certain editions of the album.


CHRISTMAS IS GOING TO THE DOGS
Eels
2000

Taken from the soundtrack from The Grinch (2000). A film that was the first adaption of a Dr Seuss book, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey. The Grinch-like perspective of the lyrics juxtaposes the happy, catchy indie pop melody brilliantly.


IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR
The Big Moon
2016

Subculture regulars of recent years, The Big Moon, released this single in aid of the breast cancer charity Coppafeel. It's a cover of the Christmas classic of the same name by Andy Williams but done in their signature style.


OI TO THE WORLD
No Doubt
1997

Another track taken from the 'A Very Special Christmas 3' compilation. This is a cover of the 1996 track by Californian punk outfit The Vandals. A close friendship existed between the two bands and No Doubt's version of this song was produced by The Vandals' guitarist Warren Fitzgerald.


ALL I WANT FOR XMAS IS ROCK & ROLL
LA Wise Man
2017

LA Priest aka Sam Eastgate took on a more seasonal moniker for a festive tune. A raucous and rhetorical song from the former singer of Late Of The Pier, asking for Rock & Roll for Christmas and getting it, from himself.


A GREAT BIG SLED
The Killers
2006

The first in what would become an annual tradition from The Killers who have since released a Christmas single every year. In 2016 a Christmas album called 'Don't Waste Your Wishes' was released, compiling all their festive singles to date.


I WAS BORN ON CHRISTMAS DAY
Saint Etienne
1993

This is the A-Side to Saint Etienne's single 'Xmas 93' conveniently named as it was released in December 1993 on Heavenly Recordings. This lead track features vocals from The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess.


AND ANYWAY IT'S CHRISTMAS
!!!
2013

When American dance-punks Chk Chk Chk released this frontman Nik Offer said they'd always wanted to write a Christmas song "and not just something like 'it's a disco Christmas' or whatever. It had to be a good song to start with."


(I WISH I WERE GIVING YOU A GIFT) THIS CHRISTMAS
Girl Ray
2017

A fresh track from North London trio Girl Ray, who, following on from the success of their debut album 'Earl Grey' lamented the lack of indie bangers at Christmas so made their own, with choirs, bells and the works.


CHRISTMAS (BABY PLEASE COME HOME)
Slow Club
2009

Taken from the EP 'Christmas Thanks for Nothing' released by the Sheffield indie pop outfit in 2009. it was a toss-up between this, the title track or 'Christmas TV' being included on this playlist so we recommend that entire EP for some further listening.


CHRISTMAS AT THE ZOO
The Flaming Lips
1995

Taken from their acclaimed 'Clouds Taste Metallic' album. The Flaming Lips are no strangers to Yuletide sounds, so if you're feeling a little more experimental or adventurous check out their secret album 'Atlas Eets Christmas' - a psych-jazz piano record released under the pseudonym Imagine Peise.


CHRISTMAS
The Who
1969

Taken from Tommy, the 1969 Rock Opera written by Pete Townsend detailing the story of a deaf, dumb & blind boy called Tommy. In the track Christmas, Tommy's salvation (due to Original Sin) is questioned by his family, considering his condition.


STEP INTO CHRISTMAS
The Wedding Present
1992

The B-Side to 'No Christmas' which was the twelfth single in a series of twelve released in 1992 by The Wedding Present. Each single had a cover version as its B-Side and in keeping with the seasonal theme, they decided to cover this 1973 Elton John classic.


MERRY CHRISTMAS (I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT TONIGHT)
Ramones
1987

Originally released as a b-side to the Ramones 1987 single 'I Wanna Live' but became more popular in 1989 when a music video was recorded for it and the track was used as the closer on their 'Brain Damage' album. 


THERE AIN'T NO SANITY CLAUSE
The Damned
1980

A satirical Christmas song which was written by Giovanni Dadomo, the key figure in London punk band The Snivelling Shits. The title is a play on a scene from the 1935 Marx Brothers film 'A Night At The Opera'.


(WE WISH YOU) A PROTEIN CHRISTMAS
The Fall
2003

The hip priest himself Mark E Smith has contemplated the holiday season numerous times throughout his and The Fall's (well documented) prolific output but the title track from this 2003 EP is the pick of the bunch.


WE THREE KINGS
Patti Smith
1997

Punk poet laureate Patti Smith blesses us with her usual artistic interpretation of this well known Christmas carol. This is the closing track from 'A Very Special Christmas 3' and the last one we will choose from it for this list.


CHRISTMAS CARD FROM A HOOKER IN MINNEAPOLIS
Tom Waits
1978

Tom Waits at his bittersweet, lamenting best playing Charlie, a man in love with an incarcerated stripper. Arguably one of his more well-known songs taken from one of his less-familiar albums - 1978's 'Blue Valentine'.


GLANDULAR FEVER GOT THE BEST OF ME
The Cribs
2013

Primarily included as the opening number on the b-side bonus disc for 'Payola', a singles compilation album celebrating The Cribs 10 years as a band. A festive jingle litters through this slowed down scuzzy track.


I DON'T WANNA WAIT 'TIL CHRISTMAS
Summer Camp
2015

This is the opening track from the married indie pop couple's 2015 EP simply titled 'Christmas'. An EP which embraces all the good and bad about Christmas - from celebrating with family or old arguments resurfacing.


BLACK CHRISTMAS
Poly Styrene
2010

The former frontwoman of seminal punk band X-Ray Spex released this single in 2010 ahead of her final solo album 'Generation Indigo' (2011). It features a groovy reggae beat and was written with her daughter Celeste.


LET ME SLEEP (IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME)
Pearl Jam
1991

The first Christmas single from the Seattle Grungers which was rewarded to members of their official fan club called the Ten Club. Pearl Jam have traditionally rewarded fans with a Christmas single (nearly) every year since too.


COME ON SANTA
The Raveonettes
2008

Taken from the Danish duo's 'Wishing You A Rave Christmas' EP, which is well worth your time as it also includes a great cover of 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' from Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You'.


FATHER CHRISTMAS
The Kinks
1977

A hard-hitting festive themed single from The Kinks 'Misfits' recording sessions. It sees a department store Father Christmas accosted by some impoverished local youths who don't want any toys - they just want money. 


NO ANGELS
Catholic Action
2017

Catholic Action gave us this fun, new and quintessentially British take on the festive time of year. This Christmas single from the Glasgow outfit followed on from the release of their fantastic debut album 'In Memory Of'.


ZUZU
Distant Christmas
2018

Zuzu wrote this new pensive festive bop whilst working as an elf in her hometown of Liverpool in 2017. The British New Wave star takes a little look at the bleaker side of Christmas but this beautiful track remains ambivalent; underpinned by an uplifting and hopeful chorus and melody. 

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