The moon is right, the spirit’s up, and a fair few spirits are also on their way to your festive glass (for over 18s only *cough*). And once again some indie faves haven’t let pop’s warblers have all the holiday fun this year. So here’s 2019’s Tracks Christmas Special.
Listen to all of them and more in our Spotify playlist.
The Big Moon - Carol of the Bells
Is ‘Carol Of The Bells’ the most sinister sounding Christmas song? A Ukranian folk chant created to signal the start of spring was transformed into a Christmas tune when it was translated into English. And boy does it sound like the Ghost of Christmas Future roaming the streets, looking for souls. The Big Moon’s brilliant cover doesn’t do much to dismiss this. Even as the foursome sing of a “merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas” it still sounds like a threat. But it is beautiful, their voices a whisper and the soft, twinkling synths conjuring scenes of a winter wonderland at night. (Chris Taylor)
Best Coast - Little Saint Nick
For a band obsessed with the California sun, Best Coast sure do love a Christmas tune. From collaborating with Wavves to creating an original tune for one well-known streaming service, the West Coast denizens have brought their own touch to the festive season. Now it seems they’ve reached the most natural next step: a Beach Boys cover. With harmonies galore and plenty of crunchy Best Coast guitar, it’s a wonderfully poppy affair that’ll perfectly alleviate the disappointment of Christmas Day when there isn’t even a sight of snow. (Chris Taylor)
Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple, Matt Berninger - 7 O’Clock News / Silent Night
The latest in Phoebe Bridgers’ annual drop of festive inspired compositions, ‘7 O’Clock News / Silent Night’ reimagines Simon & Garfunkel’s critique on 1960s America by enlisting The National’s Matt Berninger as a newscaster bluntly delivering the injustices of the Trump-led United States, deliberately jarring with Phoebe and Fiona Apple’s serene delivery of the Christmas classic. Listen to both side by side and it becomes painfully clear that too little has changed in those fifty years. Matt’s listed cases of racial injustice, police brutality, misogyny and presidential impeachment mirror the prejudice of the ’60s. Much like the original version, Phoebe’s rendition packs a powerful punch largely through the poignant juxtaposition between the peaceful and the real. Not the first festive song to challenge the faux nature of seasonal togetherness, it is the most direct, with its power elevated by the beautifully haunting harmonies of Phoebe and Fiona. Merry Christmas everyone, our war is not over. (Ben Tipple)
Jerkcurb - Walking In The Air
Jacob Read’s debut album as Jerkcurb, ‘Air Con Eden’, was packed with floating indie jams, and that feeling of weightlessness matches perfectly with his choice of Christmas cover: ‘Walking In The Air’. While a syncopated beat just about keeps the song moving, Jacob’s guitar dilly dallies lightly around and collaborators Lara Laeverenz and Ella Rimmer sluggishly sing the refrain. It all comes together hazily but beautifully, as if they’re nodding off at the end of a long Christmas day full of food and wine, and dreaming of being pulled up into the snowy atmosphere. (Rob Hakimian)
Blink-182 - Not Another Christmas Song
No stranger to releasing a Christmas song, blink-182 have dropped another not-so-festive number, just in time for the big day. ‘Not Another Christmas Song’ is a raucous, anti-Christmas song which highlights the downsides of the festive season and gets real about seasonal depression. Yes it’s Christmas, but death and divorce still happens at this time of year. “I hate to be a downer, but I spent too many hours crossing days off the calendar / It don’t mean nothing to me,” it goes, showcasing their inner Scrooges once again. The track also comes with a funky claymation video by animator Johnny McHone that follows the band through Santa’s workshop, and chaos ensues. Very blink-182; a twisted yet fun “fuck you” to Christmas. (Jess Peace)