Have Yourself a Merry Indie Christmas Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (2022)

A Benefit for Crisis

I often think about what it would be like to be just now getting into this hobby of underground Christmas music mix-making. When I got in the game (18 years ago!), there wasn’t quite the wealth of indie rock/pop/alt.country/etc Christmas releases to hunt down. Bandcamp, the venue which I primarily exploit to find cool new songs, wasn’t founded until 2007, and it wasn’t until 2010 that I could have even embedded a track on a site like Christmas Underground. It is both exhilarating and terrifying to think about dipping my toes in for the first time in 2022… there is just so much to listen to – years and years of great songs to get through, let alone all the new releases that come out every year. Well, lucky for my imaginary self, as well as that very real person taking their first stab at making a cool Christmas mix, fellow weirdo Christmas music fan Kevin McGrath has created the perfect introduction to this niche of holiday music with the massive, expansive collection of 108 songs, Have Yourself a Merry Indie Christmas Vol. 1 & Vol. 2. This is like one of those The Greatest ________ Album in the World collections I used to bump into in the import sections of the 2000s – packing an absolute ton of the tracks you need to hear to fully get what has been going on. The sheer effort that it took to clear 108 songs is astounding, let alone the challenges of contacting bands that are no longer together, and there are some wonderful ones represented here, to which I’m delighted their musical legacy will persist. Readers of this site will find some familiar faces and names, such as Sweet Tempest, St. Lenox, Charlie’s Hand Movements, The Ornaments, Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, and many, many more.

Just know you are bound to discover a new classic or two that you’ve never bumped into before. Christmas Underground is a one-person shop, and I can’t and won’t be able to know every single cool indie Christmas song out there… as I’m currently sitting here listening to Volume 1, bobbing my head to a song I’ve never heard – and I love it. All this great music also benefits a great cause, Crisis, a UK charity that helps the homeless. So, while the suggested price for each massive collection is a mere £7/$8.50, just know that you don’t necessarily have to give only $8.50. Maybe make yourself a sandwich each day this week for lunch and give a bit more? This is the season of giving, and in a world where billionaires aren’t going to save us, we need to look out for each other.

Bottom Line: These two releases could fashion 3-4 years of indie Christmas mixes for your friends and family. It is an absolutely essential purchase for new and old collectors alike.


One Reply to “Have Yourself a Merry Indie Christmas Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (2022)”

  1. Having decided to curate a fundraising album for the UK charity Crisis and particularly their annual project Crisis at Christmas, it made sense to me that the album be a Christmas compilation. I concluded, pretty early on, that I didn’t want it to be a covers album. I didn’t have any idea of how many original Christmas songs of real quality were floating around in the ether, so I risked making the project a lot more difficult to get done. However, I knew for sure that it was 100% the right call when I chanced upon Christmas Underground. Song after song, expertly reviewed, was laid out before me. I haven’t totalled how many ended up on the album, but it must be at least 50%, most by artists that I knew nothing about. As well as raising the maximum amount of money that I could to help the homeless, I wanted to compile an album that people would continue to play for many Christmases to come. The half-dozen or so reviews that Have Yourself a Merry Indie Christmas has garnered so far make the claim that it is an “essential” album, even a “perfect” album. That, of course, is down to the 108 artists who “donated” a song to the cause, but it is also very much down to the work done by Christmas Underground in bringing those songs to light in such a comprehensive and entertaining way.

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