Rockin’ around the Christmas tree: 8 new holiday records for 2013

As a certified holiday junkie, I’m sitting here writing my column wearing a “Griswold Family Tree” Christmas t-shirt, sipping a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha Mint coffee. My office is illuminated only by the light of my computer screen and the 9′ tree to my right. It’s safe to say that I’m fueled by the season at this point and like the mp3 player that was installed a few years back in Santa’s sleigh (how I know that is classified), I’m also on a mission to deliver some holiday music to those who care to listen. 2013 is a year that feels a tad light when it comes to new seasonal songs, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not around. Today, I present to all of you here at Chicago Parent a list of eight records to consider for your 2013 holiday music playlist. From folk to punk and local to global, there’s something here for all the families that rock!

Me You & Her – “A Lil’ More Christmas” (Self-released)

Available as a Free Download or suggested donation of $6 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository via Noisetrade

Me, You and Her is Hannah Rand, Alaina Stacey and Olivia Harris – a trio of Chicago-based performers that started playing music together three years ago, while still in high school. Last year they recorded a Holiday EP. Their rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” became an anthem for a promotional effort for the Greater Chicago Food Depository after the girls learned that 1 in 5 children in Chicago don’t know where their next meal will come from. For 2013, they’ve made the entire seven-song record available as a FREE DOWNLOAD – but if you’re inclined to leave them a “tip” through Noisetrade , they will donate 100% of it to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Watch the making of “A Lil’ More Christmas” below:

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – “It Feels Like Christmas Time”(Savoy Jazz)

Available on Amazon | iTunes

For their third seasonal entry following 1997’s “Watchu’ Want for Christmas” and 2004’s “Everything You Want for Christmas,” BBVD delivers a fat bag of sonic presents that are bound to put a smile on your face and warm the hearts of even the coldest Scrooge or meanest Grinch. “It Feels Like Christmas Time” is a mix of swingin’ versions of classic songs and all-new compositions. Check out the video for the title track below:

Elizabeth Mitchell & Friends – “The Sounding Joy” (Smithsonian Folkways)

Available on Amazon | iTunes

Officially titled “The Sounding Joy: Songs in and out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook,” this new album is a 24-track collection of spirited carols drawn from Ruth Crawford Seeger’s 1953 songbook, “American Folk Songs for Christmas.” Some of the tracks appeared on the 1957 Seeger Sisters album of the same name (originally issued by Scholastic, since reissued by Smithsonian Folkways). With appearances by Peggy Seeger, Dan Zanes and Natalie Merchant (among others), “The Sounding Joy” is pure Americana and a traditional album worth checking out. Get a Free Download of “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” via this link.

Istvan and His Imaginary Band – “I Can’t Believe It’s Christmas Eve” (Self-released)

Available direct from the artist via Bandcamp

Straight outta Berwyn, Istvan and His Imaginary Band have released a new single this year that is, in their own words, “a song about every kid’s favorite part of Christmas: the presents.”

Bad Religion – “Christmas Songs” (Epitaph Records)

Available on Amazon | iTunes

If there’s a band that no one would’ve expected to release a Christmas album, Bad Religion certainly would fit the bill. But, for 2013, these punk rock legends have done just that. They have put together what has thus far been my most-played new Christmas record here at Rock Father HQ. With eight holiday classics re-imagined, along with the Andy Wallace mix of their own “American Jesus” thrown in for good measure, Bad Religion just solidified their spot in my perennial playlist, while creating a true Christmas album for rock families.

Treetop Sisters – “Nicki and the Crew” (Deer Ridge Music)

Available on Amazon | iTunes

Ruby, Pearl and Jade Ayers are a vocal trio of sisters out of Nashville that make music specifically-geared toward kids ages 2-10 (the Ayers girls range in age from 7-11 themselves). For 2013, they’ve released an all-new single and video called “Nicki and the Crew” which can be streamed below:

Various Artists – “Punk Goes Christmas” (Fearless Records)

Available on Amazon| iTunes

I’m a huge fan of Fearless Records’ “Punk Goes . . .” series, which launched way back in 2000 with “Punk Goes Metal.” While cover songs are the roots of these rockin’ compilations, “Punk Goes Christmas” finds the likes of New Found Glory, All Time Low and Crown the Empire turning in original seasonal songs, while bands like Yellowcard, Man Overboard and Issues put their own spin on some new and old classics.


Judy Pancoast – “The House on Christmas Street Volume II: Christmas with Mrs. Claus” (Mamanook Music)

Available on Amazon | iTunes

If you’ve heard “The House on Christmas Street,” there’s a good chance it was on YouTube where Judy Pancoast’s viral hit staked it’s ground as the soundtrack for thousands of videos featuring neighborhood lighting displays. Last year, she followed it up with a full album of songs wrapped in the persona of Mrs. Claus, complete with a new version of her signature song. It’s nearly impossible to avoid mentioning that Pancoast sounds eerily like Karen Carpenter, a trait that is by design. In fact, she’s performed a tribute to The Carpenters in the past.

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