Holiday Music Roundup

While COVID is still stalking us like a pissed off Krampus, we have to stay in and avoid celebrating the holidays in groups this year. With that in mind, you need to party even harder at home on your own to make up for it, so you’re going to need plenty of great new holiday tunes to stay pumped. We’ve got you covered. Check out some of our recommendations below:

Kelly Finnigan Presents…A Joyful Sound

Kelly Finnigan is one of the most enigmatic voices in modern R&B and funk, so you could trust him to come up with one wildly entertaining holiday record.

Finnigan whipped up a record that follows in the mould of classic ’60s Christmas records like A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector, which follow more of a variety show or a jam session kind of format, rather than just a collection of songs.

The title track opens and closes the record (as a reprise), serving as the official theme

Across eleven tracks, Finnigan parties with the biggest names in the newest wave of funk and soul music (primarily from Colemine Records) including members of the following: Durand Jones & The Indications, Ghost Funk Orchestra, Ikebe Shakedown, Monophonics, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, The Dap-Kings, Orgone, Neal Francis, Ben Pirani, The Jive Turkeys, The Harlem Gospel Travelers, Rudy De Anda and many others.

Get your copy today right here.

Black Pumas – “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas”

While I’d usually rather not feature Spotify-only releases, Black Pumas’ cover of Lou Rawls’ criminally overlooked holiday classic, “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas” is just too good to skip.

The contemporary soul band totally breathes new life into the David Axelrod-produced original with fiery vocals and a chorus of passionate backup singers. It’s an epic makeover that’ll inspire you to do more good than ever this holiday season. Give it a listen below:

The Rizzos – “Excited for Christmas”

Now for a song that works just as well outside of the holiday season. Our buddies The Rizzos have re-issued their melodic garage paean to Christmas burnout as a single.

Originally released on King Pizza’s 2014 Christmas compilation, Winter Thunderland, “Excited for Christmas” has been remixed and is punchier than ever. If the month of December leaves you only feeling cold and disinterested, than this is a tune for you.

Grab it digitally here today.

Shake Well Bros. – Hanukkah Tabarnak

Ok, so this one is actually a few years old, but it’s so good, it had to be mentioned.

In 2017, Montreal’s Shake Well Bros. cut this wild three track EP, which features the chaotically festive title track. The three minute instrumental is an acid-fueled ripper set to an aggressively breakneck tempo. The Heads meets Agent Orange? Sounds good to me!

This track proves that there should be way more psychedelically-minded Hanukkah music.

Download your copy here.

(Speaking of great and heady Hanukkah music. If you don’t have this version of “The Dreidel Song” played on sarod by James Whetzel yet, then you’re absolutely missing out.)

v/a – A Bloxham Christmas, Vol 1.

If you are drawn more to the traditions and darker vibes of Christmas’ ancient pagan roots, then you need to hear the strangeness that is Bloxham Tapes’ first holiday collection.

Featuring comically macabre spoken word pieces, gloomy soundscapes and haunting reinterpretations of old folk carols by the likes of Alison Cotton and Andrew DR Abbott, this is a Christmas album unlike any other.

If you want to soundtrack for your next Krampus Nacht or for a visit from everyone’s favorite Welsh Christmas pantomime horse ghost, Mari Lwyd, then get a copy of this eerie and otherworldly tape here.

Mari Lwyd > Santa Claus.

Pearl Charles and Michael Rault – “Christmas Must Be Tonight”

The LA-dwelling Pearl Charles took The Band’s oft-ignored holiday nugget, “Christmas Must Be Tonight,” and lovingly gave it new life in her uniquely soothing variation on the cosmic American music genre.

With the help of Michael Rault, Charles highlights the Robbie Robertson tune’s solid melody, while getting ample opportunities to show off her honey-sweet harmonies. Judee Sill, Flying Burrito Brothers and Trummors vibes abound, while the keyboards earnestly pay homage to the graceful-yet overlooked-work Garth Hudson crafted on the original recording.

Give it a listen below:

If you dug that, you can check out Pearl Charles’ upcoming album here.

Wall Matthews – The Heart of Winter: Christmas Guitar

Leave it to Tompkins Square to release some deeply moving guitar Christmas music.

Following in the footsteps of Sean Smith’s beautiful Christmas record and last year’s Little Drummer Boy Christmas Medley by Kinloch Nelson, Wall Matthew’s new Christmas Guitar album is a gorgeous reimagining of classic standards.

Matthews, a former member of the legendary Entorage Music and Theater Ensemble, will make you hear these once tired holiday essentials in a new light. Just check out the Nick Drake-esque fingerpicking on “Little Drummer Boy” or “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and hear just how far Matthews stretches out on these tracks…you’re bound to feel like you’re hearing these once overplayed compositions for the first time again.

Get your copy of this starkly stunning guitar soli record here.

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – I Saw Mommy F***ing Santa Claus

It’s Acid Mothers Temple playing a song called “I Saw Mommy Fucking Santa Claus.” What more needs to be said?

Gabriel Latchin Trio – I’ll Be Home for Christmas

If you like your Christmases to be calm, peaceful and even a bit melancholic, then you’re going to love the Gabriel Latchin Trio’s new holiday album, I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

This record swings at times, like with the mellow yet upbeat version of “Winter Wonderland,” which opens the album, but it’s the chilled moments that really make this album worthwhile. Check out the title track and Latchin’s take on”Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” for fine examples of smoky, relaxed Christmas jazz at its smoothest.

If your copies of A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack and A Dave Brubeck Christmas are your annual go-to holiday records, then I’ll Be Home for Christmas soon will be, too.

Click here to preorder yours today.


Instead of donating to me right now, please consider donating to any of these sites to help fight racial injustice.


Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: