You might have escaped the pealing bells of Oxford’s St Giles, but enter your local shopping centre and there’s sure as hell no getting away from the ubiquity of Christmas tunes. Ranging from Mariah Carey’s near-bearable ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’, to Bing Crosby’s violence-inducing ‘White Christmas’, it’s fair to say the yuletide period isn’t one of music’s finest. Overly commercial, schmaltzy and unashamedly catering to the masses, if Christmas records invoke nothing more than a desire to drown yourself in a vat of cranberry sauce, not to worry. Oxstu’s on hand to offer a guide to the alternative Christmas tunes lamentably absent from the nation’s airwaves. And no, we’re not talking Fairytale of New York, that ceased to be alternative circa 2000.
Holiday Fortnight – The Specials
Didn’t think the punk-ska revivalists could do festive? Rest assured, cheesy lyrics are mercifully nonexistent leaving us with 2.47 minutes of uncharacteristically breezy instrumentals.
White Sky – Vampire Weekend
With typical echoes of reggae and calypso in this upbeat number, it’s presents a good choice for alleviating those Boxing Day Blues when you’re left with discarded wrapping paper, putrefying leftover parsnips and the grim realisation that only the toffee Quality Streets are left.
It’s Christmas So We’ll stop – Frightened Rabbit
Where would Christmas be without a helping from these harbingers of Scottish bleakness? Perhaps best saved for when the annual family feuds have calmed down a bit.
A Change at Christmas – The Flaming Lips
Tinged with psychedelia, this a melancholy comment on the passage of time and the possibilities of change. It makes a refreshing change from the customary Christmas banality to which we’re accustomed.
This is full-on Christmassy – it’s got a gospel choir in there and everything!
Will You Still Be In Love With Me Next Year – Hot Club de Paris
Feisty, festive fare (couldn’t resist the alliteration, sorry folks) about a ‘brutal Northern night’ from the Liverpool indie trio. Its frenetic refrain is infectious, and it makes an ideal punk inspired alternative for when ‘Band Aid’ gets too saccharine.
I Wish it Was Christmas Today – Julian Casablancas
Admittedly not one of the finest in The Strokes’ frontman’s repertoire but hey, it still beats Wham.
The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
At just over two minutes, The Raveonette’s bring us a short but sweet gothic, blues-edged track. The Christmas jingles admittedly do sound slightly incongruous against this, but it’s Christmas and tis’ the season to be jolly and all that.
Feeling sufficiently festive? Here’s the Spotify link to all these tracks. (Just don’t play them too much. They can’t go getting commercially successful now…)