Now that’s what I call indie Christmas

Sarah Contreras

Looking for a hip way to amp up your Christmas cheer? Search no more. Here are five holiday albums guaranteed to fit right in with your Vampire Weekend-laden music collection:

Various Artists – Maybe This Christmas Tree

Only one event could unite Lisa Loeb, Jars of Clay and the Polyphonic Spree—that event is Christmas. While a tad bit dated, this compilation offers up two standout holiday covers: Death Cab for Cutie doing Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and Copeland’s cover of Do You Hear What I Hear? These two songs alone merit hunting down the album and partying like it’s 2004.

She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas

Remember that movie Elf where Zooey Deschanel played a Gimbels elf with the voice of an angel? This album is like watching the Baby, It’s Cold Outside scene over and over again for an hour. Partners-in-tweeness Deschanel and M. Ward tackle Christmas classics with bluesy vocals, appropriately subdued guitar riffs and a ukulele. This album is perfect to throw on at your next classy holiday party or while hand-knitting the Christmas potholders you plan on giving to all of your friends at the co-op.

Various Artists – Holidays Rule

The Shins cover a song that was found on a Wings reissue.

Oh wait, I need to say more? OK. Co-produced by Decemberists member Chris Funk, Holidays Rule features Andrew Bird, The Head and the Heart, Fruit Bats and Paul McCartney* himself. It’s a veritable grab-bag of musical genres, and almost every song is a bull’s-eye. Seriously though, the Shins doing Wonderful Christmastime is fabulous.

Sufjan Stevens – Songs for Christmas

Released in 2006 in a five-disc box set, Songs for Christmas has since become perhaps the quintessential alternative/indie holiday album. I mean, it’s Sufjan Stevens. You can’t really get more indie than that. But aside from an extreme amount of hipster cred, Songs for Christmas comes with a heavy dose of gorgeous music. From original tunes like That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! to lovely takes on traditional hymns like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (a personal favorite of mine), Stevens captures the essence of wintery nights and roaring fires.

Bright Eyes – A Christmas Album

Conor Oberst and friends band together and infuse your favorite holiday classics with their signature vast emotional depth and melancholy on this 2002 gem. The album is at times a downer, but it’s a lovely downer. It’s rounded off by a rousing rendition of The Night Before Christmas. Want bonus indie cred? Pick it up on vinyl—it was finally released on 180 gram white vinyl in 2009.

*And fun., for those of you who see no problem with that band appearing on the same album as Paul McCartney.