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What's New?I think I'll call this year "The Mixed Bag Christmas" - not too good, not too bad. Nothing to get too excited about, but some very solid releases, nevertheless. Several significant reissues - both as compact disc and digital download - even as the CD struggles to remain relevant in the marketplace. Regardless, I, like you, love Christmas music. And, rumor has it, Christmas comes every year. Let's do this.

This page includes a long list of the year's most notable Christmas albums (see below), but you should bear in mind that, thanks to the advent of digital technology, some of the most exciting releases are announced very close to the 25th. So, check back often - I'll be updating constantly throughout December!

Christmas treeNew Music

As a card-carrying old fart, new Christmas music has limited appeal for me. The years's biggest releases - including best sellers by Kelly Clarkson, Susan Boyle, former X Factor contestant Leona Lewis, and, believe it or not, Duck Dynasty - leave me as cold as Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. Other prominent releases include albums by country singer Trace Adkins, Toni's sister Tamar Braxton, American Idol contestant Tim Halperin, 90's icon Jewel, Voice contestant Chris Mann, legendary crooner Johnny Mathis, country band Restless Heart, vocal group Straight No Chaser, video princess Elizabeth Chan, and redneck girl Gretchen Wilson, plus soundtracks from Angels SingThe Best Man Holiday, Glee, and Mad Man.

Perhaps the most promising "big name" release of 2013 is A Mary Christmas from the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul," Mary J. Blige. Sadly, while it's immensely soulful - and Blige has blossomed into a fine, mature vocalist - the album neither hips nor hops. In fact, the most memorable cut is the hyperactive big band arrangement of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." Overall, A Mary Christmas turns out to be a rather staid and predictable affair - fine if you like very, very smooth R&B, but positively snooze-worthy if you were hoping to "get down on it." Speaking of which, I was also hoping to recommend the Kool For The Holidays by funk and disco pioneers Kool & The Gang. Considering the advanced age of the band, it sounds a lot more contemporary than expected - and that's not a good thing. That is, there's not a lot of funk or disco here, I'm afraid, just tepid grooves and sleepy ballads. Founding member Robert "Kool" Bell remains in charge, but the band is a ghost of it's former self - more like Bell Biv Devoe on an off day than the powerhouse that gave us "Jungle Boogie" and "Celebration."

Nick LoweSo, unsurprisingly, the new Christmas music I like the most is made by old farts like me. First on that list is Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family, the first-ever holiday recordings by venerable English rocker and power power pop icon Nick Lowe. I'll admit, he sounds a lot creakier (and a lot less excitable) than he did when he was cutting sharp-tongued classics like Pure Pop For Now People and Labour of Lust -  "Jesus of Yule," this is not - but there's a lot to recommend Quality Street. As you might guess from the title, it's not your typical Christmas album. The covers are a little off-the-beaten-path, including Eddy Arnold's "Christmas Can't Be Far Away" and Roger Miller's "Old Toy Trains," and the traditional songs are similarly obscure - "Children Go Where I Send Thee" and "Rise Up Shepherds." But, most impressively, roughly half the album is comprised of Nick's original songs, including the sardonic "Christmas At The Airport."

Much, much louder, but far more predictable, is Bad Religion's Christmas. These elder statesmen of punk - their first album came out over 30 years ago - recorded a fair number of positively scornful holiday songs during their tenure at Atlantic Records in the 1990's. Most were recorded live at promotional radio events, but none of them were released commercially. (Look for a rare, promo-only 1997 CD called Holiday Sampler.) The songs on Christmas have all the sound-and-fury of those early tracks, but very little of the scorn. Rather, the band simply blasts through eight traditional, royalty-free Christmas carols, plus a new mix of "American Jesus" from Recipe for Hate (1993). Listen closely, though, and you'll hear singer Greg Graffin mangle a few of the lyrics in the manner that gave rise to "God Rest You Gerry Mentleman" and "Leon" (that is, "Noel") back in the day.... In much the same vein, we also have the Misfits' three-song digital EP, Horror Xmas, which includes the seldom-covered "Island of Misfit Toys" from the old, claymation Rudolph TV special, plus punk parody albums by the Missile Toads and Angry Snowmans.

Big Bad Voodoo DaddySpeaking of predictable, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's It Feels Like Christmas Time marks their third holiday release in a catalog that totals just nine albums. As swing revival bands go, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is one of the best, and they're certainly one of the most determined, having outlasted just about every act that rose to prominence during the lounge craze of the late 20th century. It Feels Like Christmas Time will thrill their faithful followers, but it won't win any new converts. Personally, the Daddies have always been too smooth for my taste - I prefer more rambunctious revivalists like the Brian Setzer Orchestra - and It Feels Like Christmas Time only really catches fire on the New Orleans-styled "Frosty The Snowman," the rocked up "Run Rudolph Run," and the peppy original "Christmas Is Starting Now" (originally recorded in 2009 for Phineas And Ferb's Christmas Vacation).

UK dance pop divas Erasure are neither loud nor predictable - but they are definitely growing long in the tooth. That said, they've retained much of the patina that made them all the rage back in the 80's among gay boys and college girls who like to hang around gay boys. Erasure has, in fact, already recorded a couple of Christmas songs - most notably "She Won't Be Home" (1988), which stands up to their very best work - so a full-length Christmas album like Snow Globe seems like the next logical step. The original songs generally stick to the buoyant formula that made them famous ("Bells Of Love," "Loving Man," "There'll Be No Tomorrow"), but Vince Clarke and Andy Bell also have a mordant streak a mile wide ("Blood On The Snow"). The covers include very English choices like "Gaudette" and "Bleak Midwinter" as well as popular favorites like "Silent Night." For me, Erasure was always a bit too fey - I prefer manly men like the Pet Shop Boys (ahem). On Snow Globe, Erasure stays true to themselves, so they didn't change my mind. That said, it's a singular accomplishment, and gay boys and college girls will dig it, as usual. (A deluxe version is available at the Erasure Snow Globe website.)

Kate NashNow, having said all that.... Despite my encroaching decrepitude, I still look forward to that one "Eureka!" moment of discovery each Christmas - that moment when an artist I'd never heard of pulls out a drop-dead holiday classic. Last year, it was probably Stephie Coplan's blunt "No Assholes At Christmas"; the year before it was Jacob Lyda's neo-country classic "'Tis The Season To Be Lonesome"; and the year before that it was Dustin Kensrue's stunning LP This Good Night Is Still Everywhere. This year it's England's Kate Nash. Her EP Have Faith With Kate Nash This Christmas is a real treasure, mixing touching moments of quiet holiday sentiment ("Silent Night," "Auld Lang Syne") with over-the-top, in-your-face, post-riot-grrl attitude. "It's Christmas once again, but you're fuckin' one my friends!" snarls Kate in the lead-off track, "I Hate You This Christmas," and it just gets nastier from there.

Kate Nash, I have learned, is a pretty big deal in the UK, having won Best Female Artist at the 2008 BRIT Awards when she was all of 21 years old. She sings, writes, plays multiple instruments, and even acts a little. Nash is opinionated and outspoken (about art, politics, and sexuality), and her music is characterized, more than anything, by the sort of confrontational lyrics that distinguish "I Hate You This Christmas." Her best known songs are littered with choice bon mots like "Then you call me a bitch, and everyone we're with will be embarrassed, and I won't give a shit." I think we dated in a past life.... Anyway, on Have Faith With Kate Nash This Christmas, the artist is accompanied by a young, all-female band called The Tuts who make the project "rock" a bit more than Nash's usual fare, which is often compared to Lily Allen's. The Tuts handle one track, "Christmas Is In The Air," by themselves, and their own music can be found on Bandcamp.

WhiskeybellesAnother exciting discovery is the Whiskeybelles, a female country vocal trio from Milwaukee whose album Nothin' Says Christmas Like Whiskey is postively intoxicating. I think of them as this year's Sweetback Sisters, a not-at-all-dissimilar female country vocal duo from Brooklyn, New York. I discovered the Sweetback Sisters very late last season, and their Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular turned out to be one of the best holiday albums of 2012. The Sweetbacks and the Whiskeybelles both specialize in close, tight harmonies, and both groups are, well, full-figured. Thanks to a backing band with serious chops, the Sweetback Sisters are a little higher octane than the laid back, mostly acoustic Whiskeybelles, and they crank the kitsch up a little more than their unassuming mid-American counterparts. Regardless of their relative strengths, both bands glow with creative energy.

Finally, let's talk about several very hip "various artists" collections - all of them wholly non-traditional, though each of them is part of a tradition of sorts. Black Hole Records' Cashing In On Christmas Vol. 5, in fact, threatens to outstay its welcome, since it's the fifth in the series and the fourth volume in just four years. It is, to its credit, the most non-traditional of the bunch, featuring such lovely seasonal odes as "Fuck Your Christmas," "All I Want For Christmas Is The Stanley Cup," and "The 12 Steps Of Christmas." Cashing In On Christmas is available as a digital album from Bandcamp, as are the previous four ear-splitting volumes.

Festivus 2Nearly as loud, but more family-friendly, is Punk Goes Christmas, part of the extensive Punk Goes series on Fearless Records which features modern punk bands covering various strains of music - e.g. Punk Goes 90's, Punk Goes Metal, Punk Goes Pop, and even Punk Goes Crunk, Here, we have bands like New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and Crown The Empire covering Christmas songs. To my ears, Punk Goes Christmas sound more emo than punk, but the song choices are quite surprising - really, Ray Parker, Jr.! That said, there's also a cover of the Kinks' "Father Christmas," which is almost standard issue for this sort of project. Suitable for ages 16 to 25, but likely to induce rage, coma, or both in more seasoned punk rockers.

Last, but hardly least, is Festivus 2, the not-quite-as-delightful follow-up to last year's delightful collection of indie pop from London-based Highline Records. Several acts make a repeat appearance - including Christmas enthusiast Piney Gir - but the roster is mostly fresh, including stand-out tracks from The Lilys, Darling Boy, and Ulysses. I should point out, however, that two of the best songs - by the Priscillas and Glam Chops, respectively - were released well into the last decade. Collections like Festivus 2 are way too common these days - and often offered for free at websites like Noisetrade - but the Festivus series stands a wee bit above the crowd, even if this year's edition doesn't sparkle quite as brightly as last year's.

Christmas treeReissues

Andy WilliamsSo, if I'm an old fart, then I must love old music, right? Guilty as charged. But, as Christmases go, this has been a particularly old and farty one, with a lot of the action going on in the realm of easy listening. Now, I've developed a certain grudging respect for Christmas music of the non-hip variety - after all, you can't slaughter sacred cows if nobody's raising them - but I have my limits. Take Perry Como, for instance. His Christmas music is certainly iconographic and expertly executed - but it borders on somnambulant. And one of this years most notable reissues is his Complete RCA Christmas Collection, RCA's new version of last year's CD version by Real Gone Music. It's notable, of course, because it's a finely curated collection of historically significant music. It's more notable, however, because it's only available as an MP3 download - easily one of the biggest sets of music to be made available this way by the label that owns the rights to it. RCA could issue a CD - they just don't think they'll make enough money to warrant the paltry investment.

Welcome to the 21st century, I suppose. Even geezers who like Perry Como are abandoning the compact disc! Adding to this argument are a host of other easy listening MP3 reissues including Christmas classics by John Gary, Eydie Gorme, Dean Martin, Norman Luboff, The Moog Machine, Sandler & Young, and Frank Yankovic - as well as country crooner Ray Price.

That said, rumors of the death of the CD are, as yet, greatly exaggerated. Many independent labels are taking one last, heroic stab at reissuing a lot of things, from relative obscurities like The David Rose Christmas Album to unprecedented "complete" packages like the aforementioned Perry Como album and similar sets from Doris Day and James Brown (strange bedfellows, I know). This year, the recipient of such archival largess is Andy Williams. Real Gone Music's The Complete Christmas Recordings would be more accurately titled "The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings" since it includes only his three albums for that label - Christmas Album (1963), Merry Christmas (1965), and Christmas Presents (1974) - plus a few rarities. It does not include I Still Believe In Santa Claus (1990) or any later recordings, anything by the Williams Brothers, nor any live recordings or music from his long-running Christmas TV specials. Just so you know.... Anyway, other important easy listening CD reissues include a long out-of-print Patti Page album, a two-for-one New Christy Minstrels disc, Al Hirt's 1965 record, and Bobby Darin's lone Christmas album in stereo for the first time.

George Jones & Tammy WynetteFor the second year in a row, Sony's Legacy division has compiled a series of Classic Christmas Albums that bring together highlights from throughout an artist's career - sometimes including non-LP singles and other stray cuts, even those recorded for labels outside of Sony's mighty grasp. This year those artists include Alabama, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Martina McBride, Barbra Streisand, and, again, Andy Williams. Usually these discs are good introductions but nothing more - great for the neophyte, pointless for the experienced collector. One volume this year is an exception - and maddeningly close to essential: The Classic Christmas Album by country royalty George Jones & Tammy Wynette. While Wynette recorded her own Christmas album in 1970 (Christmas With Tammy, generously sampled herein), Jones never did - but he waxed a number of singles and compilation tracks for a variety of labels between 1957 and 1996. All of them are included except one - "My Mom & Santa Claus," the b-side "Lonely Christmas Call" (1962). Such a glaring omission almost spoils the stew, especially considering that the track would have easily fit on the short, 16-track disc. Still, The Classic Christmas Album is a valuable addition to any collection - and an invaluable purchase for country fans.

Across town, Universal Music has a series called Icon Christmas which is far more generic than Sony's Classic Christmas Album series. This year's installments spotlighting James Brown, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Motown, and A Very Special Christmas are worthwhile purchases only if you own nothing by those artists - and are unfazed by the miserly track count (usually ten). But, again, one volume stands out: Glen Campbell. His Icon Christmas represents the first-ever American CD reissue of his 1968 LP That Christmas Feeling - even if it doesn't say so. I should add, That Christmas Feeling isn't up to the standard set by Campbell hits like "Wichita Lineman" or "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," but Glen's fans will love it.

John FaheyMuch like the Classic Christmas Album or Icon Christmas series, you probably won't need to buy John Fahey's Christmas Soli if you are already familiar with his beautiful, brittle music. Fahey recorded five albums of Christmas songs on acoustic guitar, and Christmas Soli includes tracks from four: The New Possibility (1968), Christmas With John Fahey, Vol. 2 (1975), Christmas Guitar, Vol. 1 (1982), and Popular Songs of Christmas & New Year's (1983). Only The John Fahey Christmas Album (1991) is excluded, in part because it's the only onewhere Fahey is backed by something resembling a band. Highly recommended as an introduction to this important, enjoyable body of work.

Not much, I'm afraid, has been reissued this year in the rock arena, and what has been reissued can't be classified as rare. Most of it, however, is pretty great. 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. The Gripweeds have released their terrific 2011 album Under the Influence of Christmas on CD for the first time, while fine albums by Paul Revere & The Raiders and They Might Be Giants are newly available for download.

Good jazz reissues are even harder by to come in 2013. One that leaps out is Anita O'Day's Have A Merry Christmas, which was recorded in 1984 with a trio anchored by pianist Joe Castro, but remained largely unreleased until now. The venerable singer is a little past her prime on Have A Merry Christmas With Anita O'Day, but she's still a supple, strong interpreter of classics like "The Christmas Song" - plus one heretofore unheard song, "One More Christmas." Another jazz highlight is Slow Jams Jazz Christmas, a Concord Music Group collection drawn from the rich vaults of Fantasy, Milestone, Prestige, and Telarc Records.

Funky ChristmasIn the rhythm & blues arena, however, several genuinely delightful reissues dropped this Christmas. First and foremost is Funky Christmas, a classic 1976 Cotillion LP. While it was reissued just last year as an MP3 download, it had never been reissued on CD until now, courtesy of Real Gone Music. I must point out that, ironically, Funky Christmas isn't very funky - not in the same way that bands like Parliament or Funkadelic are. Rather, it's soulful, and pretty smooth, too. Preeminent balladeer Luther Vandross, in fact, made his debut on Funky Christmas. Other standout tracks include the Impressions' disco interpretation of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and Margie Joseph's stately "Christmas Gift."

Almost as impressive, and even more obscure, are the rare tracks collected on the second volume of Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party, an anthology from Austrian label Tramp. Like the first volume (released in 2011), this edition of Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party includes some amazingly scare recordings. I mean, I study this stuff obsessively, and I've never even heard of most of these tracks! But, like the last volume, which included Count Sidney's "Soul Christmas," this volume includes at least one record I spent years tracking down and many, many dollars purchasing - "Gee Whiz, It's Christmas" by the Beginning Of The End. But, Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party Vol. 2 is also admirably eclectic, including songs by mainstream vocalist Pearl Bailey (her hilarious "Five Pound Box Of Money," which riffs on the same theme as Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby") and comedian Martin Mull (his funk parody "Santafly").

Document Records' double-disc series called Blues Blues Christmas, meanwhile, has reached its third iteration. Whereas the first volume and second volume stopped in the 1950's, this one extends to 1962 - right to the edge of the European copyright on public domain recordings. Despite having already published four discs packed with blues, jazz, gospel, and R&B classics, Document was able to find 40 more classics ranging from utter obscurities to stellar tracks from Victoria Spivey, John Lee Hooker, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Amos Milburn, Freddy King, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Duke Ellington - and they dabble in country (Davis Sisters), doo wop (Penguins), and rockabilly (Groovey Joe Poovey). Blues Blues Christmas Vol. 3 may not be easy to track down - but it's worth it!

Salsoul OrchestraAnd then there's Salsoul Christmas Jollies: Deluxe Edition. Quite a few Christmas disco albums were released back in the 70's, most of them recorded by nameless studio hacks (e.g. The Mistletoe Disco Band) on labels marketed exclusively at supermarkets and truck stops. The Salsoul Orchestra, led by Vince Montana, was a real band with real hits ("Salsoul Hustle," "Tangerine"). That said, their two Christmas albums - Christmas Jollies (1976) and Christmas Jollies II (1981) - are no masterpieces, but they're a whole lotta fun - designed, as the Salsoul slogan proclaimed, to make you "dance your ass off." Christmas Jollies: Deluxe Edition includes both albums in their entirety but is, sadly, available only as an MP3 download. Both albums have previously been reissued on CD - the first one several times - but never with much of an eye on quality. This edition - remastered with lovely cover art - would have made an ideal compact disc, but it was not to be. Maybe next year.

So, if 2013 is "The Mixed Bag Christmas," let's finish up with a brief discussion of the most mixed-up bag of the year, Psych-Out Christmas from Cleopatra Records - a label known for wildly unpredictable quality control (their 2009 CD All Star Salute To Christmas is one of the oddest compendiums of artists I've ever seen). At first glance, Psych-Out Christmas would appear to be a top-notch collection of rare Christmas psychedelia. It is, beyond question, beautifully packaged and, surprisingly well annotated - everything but when the tracks were recorded, and therein lies the problem. Most of Psych-Out Christmas, you see, is by all appearances newly recorded - good stuff, generally speaking, though it's closer to garage rock than psychedelic rock.

And yet two songs on Psych-Out Christmas are very old and beyond obscure: "Frosty The Snowman" by The Candy Store and "Here Comes Santa Claus" by The He 5, both released in 1969. The former track is from a bizarre Decca LP called Turned On Christmas (newly reissued on MP3, by the way), while the latter is by a Korean instrumental band (and is incorrectly identified as "Jingle Bells" on the CD). Topping it off is an excerpt from Len Maxwell's 1964 novelty LP A Merry Monster Christmas and a new mix Iggy Pop's goofy reading of "White Christmas," first released on All Star Salute To Christmas - now with "Stooge" guitars! Like I said, quality control is not Cleopatra's strong suit, and Psych-Out Christmas is a case study.

And then, finally, I wanted to mention several notable collections I ran across that while diggin' the crates, all of which fall outside the scope of this website: Christmas Songs, a sterling collection of classical and pop standards on Decca; A Christmas Caper, which collects holiday songs recorded down through the years by Maddy Prior; and A Christmas Carol/A Child is Born, a limited reissue of two Bernard Herrmann soundtracks from boutique label Kritzerland.

Christmas treeSingles

Bell Peppers
The Connection
Deacon Blue
Lita Ford & Cherie Currie
Diabolical Machines
Happy Fangs
Richard X. Heyman
Melody Michalski
Rhett Miller
New Mendicants

Like most people these days, I suffer from a creeping case of media-induced Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe that's why singles are so much fun. It's so much easier to decide if it rules or if it sucks. This year has brought a cornucopia of hip treats - and I suspect a few more will arrive as the 25th approaches.

As I said, stay tuned - more singles will arrive very close to Christmas. For now, other singles of note include:

Christmas treeMy Christmas List

Anyway, the list below is a look at the new albums that I think will be of interest to people who love holiday music that rocks, rolls, swings, or twangs - meaning that it is neither a list of my recommendations nor a comprehensive list of new releases. Hope you find it useful. What have I missed? Drop me a line...

Randy Anthony

Adkins, Trace The King's Gift 2013 image buy  
Alabama Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy  
Angry Snowmans Black Coal For Rotten Children
- punk parody group has fun with the Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
2013 image buy  
Bad Religion Christmas Songs
- veteran punk rockers release first official holiday album
2013 image buy  
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy It Feels Like Christmas Time
- their third holiday release; Amazon version has two exclusive bonus tracks
2013 image buy  
Blige, Mary J. A Mary Christmas
- produced by David Foster; guests include Barbra Steisand and Marc Anthony
2013 image buy  
Braxton, Tamar Winter Loversland
- youngest sister of Toni Braxton
2013 image buy  
Bright Eyes A Christmas Album
- originally sold exclusively through artist's website; now redesigned and widely available as CD, MP3, and Vinyl
2002 image buy  
Brown, James Icon: Christmas
- 11-track collection from King recordings
2013 image buy review
  It's A Funky Christmas
- Sony budget reissue of The Merry Christmas Album (1999)
2013 image buy review
Buckinghams The Joy Of Christmas
- newly available as MP3; CD offered through the band's website
2009 image buy  
Butler, Jonathan Merry Christmas To You 2013 image buy  
Campbell, Glen Icon: Christmas
- first-ever domestic CD reissue of That Christmas Feeling (1968); new cover and title, same track listing
2013 image buy  
Candy Store Turned On Christmas (1969)
- pseudo-psychedelic Decca LP obscurity; vinyl transfer reissued as MP3 download by Goldenlane Records in 2013
1969 image buy  
Cash, Johnny Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy review
Chan, Elizabeth Everyday Holidays (EP) 2013 image buy  
Clark, Roy A Christmas Collection
- Sony budget reissue of Let It Snow (2002)
2013 image buy  
Clarkson, Kelly Wrapped in Red 2013 image buy  
Collins, Judy Christmas With Judy Collins
- revised version of All on a Wintry Night (2007) which was a revised version of Come Rejoice! A Judy Collins Christmas (1994); includes one song ("Angels in the Snow") not available on previous editions
2013 image buy  
Como, Perry The Complete RCA Christmas Collection
- MP3 reissue of 2012 Real Gone CD; exact same track listing, new artwork
2013 image buy  
Crosby, Bing Christmas with Bing!
- Sony budget reissue with variety of catalog tracks
2013 image buy review
Darin, Bobby The 25th Day Of December
- first time on CD in stereo; one bonus track
1960 image buy review
dETROIT, maRCELLA For The Holidays
- full-length album includes all tracks from previous EP's Happy Holiday (2011) and Holiday 2012!! (2012)
2013 image buy  
Diamond, Neil Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy  
Drifters Christmas With The Drifters
- Sony budget reissue of widely circulated latter day recordings
2013 image buy  
Dyer, Tom Xmas: 30 Years In The Making
- compiled from five previous Green Monkey Records samplers
2013 image buy  
Erasure Snow Globe
- deluxe version available at
2013 image buy  
Everly Brothers Christmas With The Everly Brothers And The Boys Town Choir
- Warner Brothers LP reissued on CD by Friday Music
1962 image buy review
Fahey, John Christmas Soli
- highlights from his four albums of solo Christmas guitar music, 1968-1983
2013 image buy review
Four Seasons The 4 Seasons Greetings
- first-ever reissue of classic album with its original cover and title; reissued in 1966 (and ever since) as The Four Seasons' Christmas Album; new edition issued by Hallmark, a Pickwick subsidiary
1962 image buy review
Future Of Forestry Advent Christmas EP Volume 3 2013 image buy  
Gary, John The John Gary Christmas Album
- easy listening classic reissued as MP3 download; previously released only as budget CD with new artwork
1964 image buy  
Gogo, David Christmas With The Blues
- popular Canadian blues guitarist and singer; newly available on CD
2012 image buy  
Gorme, Eydie & Trio Los Panchos Navidad Means Christmas
- newly reissued by Real Gone Music
1966 image buy  
Greenwood, Lee Christmas
- Sony budget reissue of Tennessee Christmas (2007), minus two tracks
2013 image buy  
Grip Weeds Under the Influence of Christmas
- newly available on CD
2011 image buy  
Guaraldi, Vince A Charlie Brown Christmas (Snoopy Doghouse Edition)
- special edition of 2012 Fantasy/Concord remaster with collectible Snoopy doghouse
1965 image buy review
Haggard, Merle Icon: Hag's Christmas
- repackage of Hag's Christmas (2007), itself a repackage of his 1973 Capitol album Christmas Present
2013 image buy  
Halperin, Tim Under That Christmas Spell (EP)
- American Idol contestant
2013 image buy  
Heart Heart Presents A Lovemongers Christmas
- 1998 recording with new cover art
2013 image buy  
Hirt, Al The Sound Of Christmas
- original RCA LP remastered and reissued on CD with two bonus tracks from 1964 single
1965 image buy  
Hollyberries I Wanna Go Surfin' With Santa!
- 7-inch vinyl EP with four songs previously released as MP3 downloads
2013 image buy  
Hrubovcak, J.J. Death Metal Christmas (EP)
- subtitled "Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics"; bassist for the band Hate Eternal
2013 image buy  
Jewel Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection
- also available in a deluxe edition
2013 image buy  
Jones, George & Wynette, Tammy Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy  
Kantner, Paul A Martian Christmas
- Kantner founded the Jefferson Airplane; this is the first of two albums by his new band, the Windowpane Collective; originally sold as digital download through; reissued on CD in 2013
2010 image buy  
Kem What Christmas Means
- newly released deluxe edition with extra tracks
2012 image buy  
King, Carole A Holiday Carole (Deluxe Edition)
- 2011 album with three new tracks and digital booklet with new artwork
2013 image buy  
Knight, Gladys & The Pips Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy review
Kool & The Gang Kool For The Holidays
- CD available thru band's website and, reportedly, many big box retailers
2013 image buy  
Lewis, Leona Christmas, With Love
- former X Factor contestant
2013 image buy  
Locke, Kimberley Christmas
- newly available on CD
2007 image buy  
Nick Lowe Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family
- power pop elder statesman
2013 image buy  
Luboff, Norman Choir Songs of Christmas
- Columbia choral classic released by Sony/Legacy as MP3; also see Calypso Holiday, which is not a Christmas album
1956 image buy  
Mann, Chris Home For Christmas: The Chris Mann Christmas Special
- CD/DVD combo; contestant on "The Voice"
2013 image buy  
Martin, Dean The Dean Martin Christmas Album
- Reprise LP now available as Sony/Legacy MP3 download
1966 image buy review
  Icon: My Kind Of Christmas
- 14-track collection from Capitol and Reprise recordings; repackage of My Kind Of Christmas (2011), itself an updated version of a 2009 album of the same name
2013 image buy review
Mathis, Johnny Sending You A Little Christmas
- brand new recordings
2013 image buy review
McBride, Martina Classic Christmas Album
- same as White Christmas plus a creepy Elvis Presley duet
2013 image buy  
McGlynn, Ian North Pole Vault EP 2013 image buy  
McMasters, Luke Merry Christmas, Beautiful
- newly available on CD with new artwork
2012 image buy  
Me You & Her A Lil' More Christmas (EP)
- young female folk trio; proceeds benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository
2013 image buy  
Melvin, Harold & The Bluenotes Christmas With Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes
- Sony budget reissue of 2003 album with slightly different track listing
2013 image buy  
Miracles Christmas With The Miracles
- not the 1963 classic of the same name, but a Sony budget reissue of Soulful Christmas (2001) minus two tracks
2013 image buy review
Misfits Horror Xmas (EP)
- venerable punks cover cartoon classics
2013 image buy  
Missile Toads Xmas Punx Brew 2013 image buy  
Mitchell, Elizabeth The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In & Out Of The Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook
- noted children's music singer from the 1953 songbook "American Folk Songs for Christmas"; guests include Natalie Merchant, John Sebastian, Dan Zanes, Happy Traum, and Peggy Seeger
2013 image buy  
Moog Machine Christmas Becomes Electric
- Sony MP3 reissue of early synthesizer recording on Columbia
1969 image buy  
Nash, Kate Have Faith With Kate Nash This Christmas (EP)
- with the Tuts
2013 image buy  
Nelson, Willie Christmas With Willie Nelson
- newly available on CD; reissue of "Hill Country Christmas" (1997)
2012 image buy review
New Christy Minstrels Merry Christmas! The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings 1963-1966
- complete 1963 and 1966 LP's plus bonus tracks
2013 image buy  
O'Day, Anita Have A Merry Christmas With Anita O'Day
- recorded in 1984, apparently unreleased until now
2013 image buy  
Owens, Buck Christmas
- Sony budget reissue selected from his two 60's Christmas albums
2013 image buy  
Page, Patti Christmas With Patti Page
- classic Mercury LP reissued with bonus tracks; also reissued as MP3 download without bonus tracks
1955 image buy  
Platters Christmas With The Patters
- Sony budget reissue of widely circulated latter day recordings
2013 image buy review
Presley, Elvis Merry Christmas... Love, Elvis
- Sony budget reissue selected from his two Christmas albums
2013 image buy review
Price, Ray Christmas Album
- Columbia LP newly remastered as MP3 download
1969 image buy  
Restless Heart A Restless Heart Christmas 2013 image buy  
Revere, Paul & The Raiders A Christmas Present... And Past
- Columbia LP newly remastered as MP3 download
1967 image buy review
Rocket Summer Christmas Madness (EP)
- Texas-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Bryce Avary
2013 image buy  
Salsoul Orchestra Christmas Jollies
- disco classic newly available as MP3 download with amended cover
1976 image buy  
  Salsoul Christmas Jollies (Deluxe Edition)
- remastered MP3 album featuring the complete contents of Christmas Jollies (1976) and Christmas Jollies II (1981), plus a new remix
2013 image buy  
Sandler & Young The Christmas World Of Tony Sandler & Ralph Young
- Capitol easy listening classic released as MP3
1968 image buy  
Sinatra, Frank The Sinatra Family Wish You Merry Christmas
- with Nancy, Tina, and Frank Sinatra Jr.; now available as MP3 download
1969 image buy review
  Icon: Christmas
- 11-track collection from his Capitol recordings
2013 image buy review
  The Christmas Collection
- newly available as MP3 download; 18-track CD compilation recorded for Reprise Records 1957-1991
2004 image buy review
Smith, Mindy Snowed In (EP) 2013 image buy  
Springfields Christmas With The Springfields
- (probably) unauthorized MP3 reissue of 7-inch UK EP; all tracks included on (definitely) authorized Dusty Springfield Christmas
1962 image buy  
Straight No Chaser

Under The Influence: Holiday Edition (EP)
- follow-up to their similarly-titled album; guests include CeeLo Green and Paul McCartney

2013 image buy  
Streisand, Barbra Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy  
They Might Be Giants Holidayland (EP)
- newly available as MP3 download
2001 image buy  
Thomas, B.J. Christmas Live
- Sony budget reissue of That Christmas Feeling (2005), minus several tracks
2013 image buy  
Whiskeybelles Nothin' Says Christmas Like Whiskey
- Milwaukee female country vocal trio; CD available through band's website
2013 image buy  
Whitman, Slim I'll Be Home For Christmas
- Sony budget reissue of earlier CD reissue of 1981 Epic album
1993 image buy  
Williams, Andy Classic Christmas Album
- Sony/Legacy compilation from prior holiday releases
2013 image buy  
  The Complete Christmas Recordings
- 2-CD set from Real Gone Music; not complete, really - but everything he recorded for Columbia (and that's the best stuff)
2013 image buy  
Wilson, Gretchen Christmas In My Heart 2013 image buy  
Yankovic, Frank Christmas Party
- Sony MP3 reissue of Columbia polka classic
1964 image buy  
Young, L. Black Christmas (EP)
- Louisville, Kentucky R&B singer
2013 image buy  
soundtrack Angels Sing: Music From The Motion Picture
- family movie starring Connie Britton and Harry Connick; album features mostly Texas artists, some of whom also appear in the film
2013 image buy  
soundtrack The Best Man Holiday
- contemporary R&B including Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, and John Legend
2013 image buy  
soundtrack Black Nativity
- gospel and R&B by Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Nas, and others
2013 image buy  
soundtrack Glee: The Christmas Album 4 (EP)
- popular Fox TV show
2013 image    
soundtrack How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
- Broadway adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic
2013 image buy review
various artists Mad Men Christmas
- music from and inspired by the AMC TV series
2013 image buy  
soundtrack Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas Album
- also available as MP3 download; features classic and contemporary Motown artists
2013 image buy  
various artists Blues Blues Christmas Vol. 3 1927-1962
- Document Records continues fabulous series of blues, jazz, doo wop, rockabilly, and gospel holiday songs
2013 image buy  
various artists Cashing In On Christmas Vol. 5
- hardcore punk & oi from Philadelphia indie label Black Hole
2013 image buy  
various artists Christmas Grass: The Collection
- selections from Koch Records series 2002-2007
2013 image buy  
various artists Christmas With Kylie Minogue and Friends 2013 image buy  
various artists Christmas With Marilyn McCoo and Friends
- above two Sugo albums mostly re-shuffled from 2012 releases spotlighting Al Jarreau and Natalie Cole
2013 image buy
various artists Christmas With The Rat Pack
- yet another new cover (that makes eight, so far) for 2002 album featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.
2013 image buy  
various artists Country Christmas Gift Set
- includes both volumes of a series on Collectables Records
2013 image buy  
various artists Festivus 2
- second installment of indie pop & rock from London-based Highline Records
2013 image buy  
various artists Funky Christmas
- classic Cotillion Records LP never issued on CD until now, though reissued last year as MP3 download
1976 image buy  
various artists Green Monkey Records Presents Merry Krampus
- Seattle-based indie label run by musician Tom Dyer; the label helped the local scene bridge the gap between punk and grunge from 1983 to 1991 (see It Crawled From the Basement: The Green Monkey Records Anthology) and was reactivated in 2008
2013 image buy  
various artists Holiday HAAM Jam, Vol. 3
- benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
2013 image buy  
various artists Icon: Motown Christmas
- rather thin 11-track collection; get this one instead....
2013 image buy review
various artists Just One Angel 2.0
- folk maven Christine Lavin presents second volume of original songs by emerging artists
2013 image buy  
various artists Now Christmas (2013)
- 2-CD set, 36 tracks, divided into classic and contemporary
2013 image buy  
various artists Psych-Out Christmas
- vintage and (mostly) new holiday psychedelia compiled by Cleopatra
2013 image buy  
various artists Punk Goes Christmas
- part of extensive Punk Goes series on Fearless Records
2013 image buy  
various artists Putumayo Presents Acoustic Christmas
- mix of modern folk, rock, and classic R&B
2013 image buy  
various artists Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party, Vol. 2
- more rarities from Austrian label Tramp
2013 image buy  
various artists Slow Jams Jazz Christmas
- latest installment in R&B ballad series, this time on Fantasy label Original Jazz Classics
2013 image buy  
various artists This And That For Christmas (EP)
- enjoyable country music sampler from YN Records; newly available on CD
2012 image buy  
various artists Ultimate Christmas Album Gift Set Vol. 1
- includes Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the series on Collectables Records
2013 image buy  
various artists Ultimate Christmas Album Gift Set Vol. 2
- includes Volume 3 and Volume 4 of the series on Collectables Records
2013 image buy  
various artists Ultimate Christmas Album Gift Set Vol. 3
- includes Volume 5 and Volume 6 of the series on Collectables Records
2013 image buy  
various artists Very Special Christmas: Essential
- 12 tracks taken from entire series plus one new song by Nicole Scherzinger; MP3 download only
2013 image buy review
various artists Very Special Christmas: Icon
- 11 tracks (same as above, minus new song); CD only
2013 image buy review
various artists Very Special Christmas: the Story and the Music
- original 1987 CD album plus DVD documentary; Target exclusive
2013 image buy review


Previous Years. We've been compiling this "what's new?" list for awhile, going back to 2004 (Chris Isaak, Dwight Twilley), 2005 (Diana Krall, Brian Setzer), 2006 (Aimee Mann, Bootsy Collins), 2007 (Smithereens, Darlene Love), 2008 (Weezer, Pretenders), 2009 (Bob Dylan, Los Straitjackets), 2010 (James Brown, Shelby Lynne), 2011 (Killers, Carole King), and 2012 (Rod Stewart, Polyphonic Spree). Christmas Tree

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