We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Though You Sleigh Me! brings together 12 previously released Christmas carols and Christmas-themed songs by a variety of alterna-rock hipsters, it’s no match for A Lump of Coal, the best such collection, which features must-haves like the Wedding Present’s “Step Into Christmas” and Young Fresh Fellows’ “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Still, the disc has its bright spots. Jill Sobule turns in a lively rendition of Robert Earl Keen’s hilarious “Merry Christmas From the Family,” a sort of contemporary-realist Christmas carol in which the family holiday is punctuated by convenience-store runs: “Send somebody to the Stop ’n’ Go/We need some celery and a can of fake snow/A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprite/A box of tampons and some Salem Lights.” And though I despise both the artist and the song, the maudlin “Little Drummer Boy” proves the perfect vehicle for Tori Amos’ overwrought delivery. Some of the material here just doesn’t belong on the same disc as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: Songs like Juliana Hatfield’s somber “Make it Home” and Everything But the Girl’s even more somber “25th of December” were presumably included because they reference the holiday, but they don’t work in this context. Daniel Johnston’s faltering “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and James Carter’s never-ending “White Christmas” for sax and bass will force listeners to put down their eggnog and rifle through the gift wrap looking for the remote control. If offbeat holiday music is truly what you want, Rhino’s “Cool Yule” series offers up plenty of the genuinely weird: To my mind, the Marquee’s “Christmas in the Congo” and Edward “Kookie” Byrnes’ “Yulesville” are the perfect antidotes to “White Christmas.”—Nicole Arthur