Last year, the annual holiday mix was solid, but, if you ask me, it was a bit pedestrian. Quality of song was pretty high, but there was something missing. Neither the mariachi horns from the Killers nor the fast-paced fun of Julian Casablancas really put the oomph into the holiday. And, as usual, finding Hanukkah songs was a freakin' challenge. One iffy Hanukkah song. I was concerned the supply of great modern holiday indie rock was gone.
Friends, I am pleased to say this year's holiday mix is stellar. The dance beat is back in Christmas. You want Hanukkah? We have Hanukkah. Let's dive in!
1) The LeeVees - "How do You Spell Channukkahh?" - The guy with the rich low voice from Guster put this out with some friends a few years ago. And it's a damn fine way to start a holiday mix. An entertaining song (as all good Hanukkah songs should be) about a topic that even the best of Jews has to tackle. Add in driving guitars and clever lyrics and we're off to a good start.
2) Best Coast & Waaves - "Got Something for You" - I honestly just wanted Best Coast on here. Plus this is a fun song and doesn't Zooey Deschanel have all the retro fun (more on her later). Indie bands doing cool things? Like.
3) Weezer - "O Come all Ye Faithful" - Probably the most straightforward song on here this year. It sounds like Weezer singing a Christmas carol. Which, hey, isn't that bad a thing.
4) Guster - "Tiny Tree Christmas" - A nice little ditty in two movements. Good sleigh-riding music.
5) Kanye West - "Christmas in Harlem" - Maybe we did tap out rock. We have barely touched rap! And thankfully, Yeezy comes through with this big-beat track all about how it goes across 110th St. It needs to be noted that any song that rhymes "Hanukkah" with "yarmulke" and also suggestively discusses giving a girlfriend "the hot chocolate" meets pretty much all the criteria for getting onto this mix.
6) The Raveonettes - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - Synthed out trancey amazingness from Sweden.
7) Matisyahu - "Miracle" - All the years of not finding an amazing Hanukkah song and here's the low-hanging fruit I must have walked past. Nice beats and lyrics (a cool video if you feel like looking it up online).
8) The Killers - "A Great Big Sled" - This band is the gift that keeps on giving for Christmas songs (though the one they put out this year was kinda meh). This song was nearly on the mix last year but I didn't want to have two Killers songs in one year.
9) Jimmy Eat World - "12/23/95" - Here's where we start to come down from such great heights. Time to slow it down. This song, a bit melancholy, just glistens, though. Let's you down easy.
10) She & Him - "I'll Be Home for Christmas" - The latest salvo in the Zooey Deschanel effort for World Domination is her Christmas album with M. Ward. This is a fine little retro song. Though, given the interesting collab this year Danger Mouse had with Jack White and Norah Jones, I'd like to use this space to propose that She & Him have a musical challenge with Jack White and Norah Jones. That could be something.
11) Coldplay - "Christmas Lights" - Say what you want... it's a pretty song.
12) Mogwai - "Christmas Song" - An instrumental send-off from the Scottish post-punkers.
All in all, I think this is the most listenable mix since the 2008 edition of the mix. Arguably, it's the highest overall song quality of any of the ones I've put together. Want it? All are available (even legally) at your online music purveyor of choice...