It’s that time of the year once again! Even for someone who has been in the Christmas spirit since October, the big day creeps up faster every single year. No matter how many traditions you try to squeeze in, there never seems to be enough time, no matter how early you start. Thankfully one of my Holiday traditions can be completed completely on the go! We here at Icon Vs. Icon are huge fans of great Christmas jams! Now, we all love the classics, but this year I wanted to talk about a few Christmas albums that don’t quite get enough love. I wanted to mention a few Christmas albums that are a bit “different” from what you’re used to on the radio. So, I’ve compiled a list of 5 albums that are essential to my holiday listening. Honestly, I could have made a list made up of 50 of my favorite Christmas albums, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you. What follows is 5 Christmas albums that I think deserves at least one listen from our audience. So, break out the egg nog (or peppermint coffee!) and enjoy, 5 Alternative takes on the most wonderful time of the year!
Relient K – Let it Snow, Baby… Let it Reindeer
This is the one album on this list that stays on my playlist until at least March. Relient K is a Christian alt-rock band that got their start in 1998. Any of our readers who were involved in “Youth Groups” are more than likely familiar with the hip “family friendly” jams these guys dished out. While I’ve listened to their other tunes in more recent years, this is the only Relient K album that has been in constant rotation since it’s release in 07. You’ve got the usually fast paced, pop punk Christmas covers you’d come to expect from an album such as this, however, the band also provides some of the most beautiful original tracks I’ve ever heard. I’ve never heard a song that truly embodies seasonal depression like “In Like a Lion”; a song built around that awful feeling we get every February. Specifically save this track for after the holidays, the rest of the album is fair game though!
Family Force 5 – Christmas Pageant
Family Force 5, definitely the most unique band on this list. I’ve loved FF5 since high school and it wasn’t until recently that I completely stopped listening to them; a lineup change made me really bitter, but one day it’ll pass. The style this group brings is a mishmash of hip hop, rock, and new wave. It’s unlike anything you’ll hear anywhere else, and it surprisingly fits the festive season. You’ll have these “auto tune filled” covers stuck in your head for days after listening. Leave your judgement at the door though, because the hip hop version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is right on the edge of cringey. I swear you’ll love every minute of it though.
August Burns Red – Sleddin’ Hill
Now this is an album that I’m shocked does not receive more mainstream love during the holiday season. People are in love with the “hard rock” covers of holiday classics provided by staples such as Transiberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller, why not take it up a notch? August Burns Red is a metalcore band that got their start in 2003. They’re a phenomenal group of guys who became known in the scene every Christmas for dropping their heavy vocals and going straight for the instrumental jugular. In 2012, they decided to drop an entire album of Christmas cheer. Along with a few originals, the band took classic public domain Holiday tracks and gave them their signature heavy flair. If you’re a fan of those heavy instrumental covers mentioned before or alternative takes on holiday classics, this album is for you.
Hanson – Snowed In
Yes, that Hanson. You’d be surprised, they’re selling out shows across the nation to this day. The band of brothers, mistakenly seen as “one hit wonders”, have been going strong since 1993. In 1997, fresh off the success of “Mmmbop”, they decided to follow the trend of other 90’s pop artists and drop a Christmas album. The difference? This album has staying power. I equate Hanson to an artist like Justin Bieber: no one likes to admit they have talent, but to deny it just shows ignorance. Each brother has incredible pipes and can truly rock their respective instrument. Don’t knock it until you try it, I guarantee their cover of “What Christmas Means to Me” will have you bustin’ a move all around the Christmas tree.
Chris Farren – Like A Gift From God or Whatever
Every year I try to find a new album to add to my holiday playlist, this year I may have found my favorite holiday album of all time. “Like a Gift from God or Whatever” is an “all-original” Christmas album by indie rock/punk vocalist Chris Farren. Guys I can’t stress enough, listening to this album has been the one thing to get me into the spirit this year. It’s Farren’s ability to write some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard that truly makes this a great album rather than a holiday cash in. From songs about that perfect gift (Christmas Guitar) to songs about Holiday heartbreak (I’m Not Ready for Christmas) there is something for everybody. If you listen to one album from this list, make it Chris Farren’s “Like a Gift from God or Whatever”.
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”