Lists

Ten non-traditional Christmas records you should listen to this year

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5. Oi to the World, The Vandals Really, all you need to do to decide whether or not you want this CD is to read the track list. When it includes songs such as "Christmas Time for My Penis," "My First Xmas as a Woman," and "Hang Myself From the Tree," it's either something you want, or something you want to mention to your Bible Study Group at church in order to pray for those who listen to it voluntarily.

4. Does Christmas Fiasco Style, My Morning Jacket The Kentucky alt-country band dusts off its vocal harmonies for this set of new music ("Xmas Curtain," "I Just Wanted to Say" and "Christmas Time Is Here Again") and lesser-known Christmas classics (Elvis's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" and Nick Cave's "New Morning"). Short but sweet, and the cheesy leisure suits on the EP's cover art are worth the price of admission alone. 3. Songs for Christmas, Sufjan Stevens Much unlike the two short-disc EPs on this list, this five-disc Christmas set is chock-full of holiday goodness and will take you over four times as long as the EPs' half-hour to experience fully. Just given the impressive number of songs on this generously-priced set (just over $20 retail for a five-disc collection is more than the spirit of giving), its natural that some tracks hit better than others. But the span of styles here -- from synthy pop to mellow folk -- also means there's something for almost every listener. Given Stevens's geek cred, one has to wonder if the number of tracks on this collection is purposeful: Forty-two is, after all, the answer to life, the universe and everything. 2. A Santa Cause 1 & 2, Various Artists This compilation of punk, pop and rock classics mixed with a healthy dose of holiday originals first came out in 2003 as a charity disc to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The second disc came out in 2006, to benefit Cure Autism. Now both discs are being re-released as a set, still benefiting charity, still giving Christmas a sharp, silvery edge.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Gueraldi Okay, okay, perhaps this isn't what you might think of as "alternative," especially since the disc does include relatively traditional arrangements of some serious old-time Christmas religion ("Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "What Child Is This," to name only two). But think about it: This is one of the best and most pervasive Christmas collections out there, and was one of the first ever. Songs like "Linus and Lucy" and "Christmastime Is Here" were new additions to the old Christmas songlists, and they've become classics themselves.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen