RSU Radio’s Guide To 2020 Holiday Records

The holidays are definitely different this year, there’s no denying that. One thing that’s still the same is the annual tradition of holiday releases. From covers of timeless staples to original tracks, these records will help you ring in the season.

The Bird and the Bee – Put Up The Lights

The Bird and the Bee, an indie duo comprised of Grammy-winning producer/songwriter Greg Kurstin and songwriter Inara George, dropped this festive masterpiece in late October. Like many of the records on this list, it includes new takes on holiday classics as well as a few originals sprinkled in. The record includes a thumping cover of “Little Drummer Boy” that features Dave Grohl laying down solid drum work. You can check out a live version of the collab here.  One of the Put Up The Lights  original tracks is “You and I at Christmastime,”a warm love song perfect for toasting your toes in front of the fireplace.

Office Romance – Holidays of Love

Office Romance, the trio of Seth Jabour (8G Band- backing band for Late Night with Seth Myers), Syd Butler (also 8G Band) and actress Amy Carlson have released their debut effort Holidays of Love. The record is an eclectic addition to the Christmas cannon touching on everything from indie rock to rockabilly to piano ballads to Americana and more. Even more impressive? All ten tracks are original works.

The Dollyrots – A Very Dollyrots Christmas

If you’re looking for something heavier with bouts of yelling (as I’m sure many of you are as 2020 finally comes to a close), The Dollyrots are here to help. The band transforms Christmas classics with punk instrumentals for a lively and fresh take. The best part? You can enjoy it all for free. It’s available as “pay what you want including nothing” on the band’s Bandcamp.

Andrew Bird  – HARK!

Andrew Bird’s latest album is full of holiday music– from classics like “Oh Holy Night” and “Christmas is Coming,” to original songs inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. HARK! Also includes less-traditional holiday songs, channeling the post-Christmas crash with John Prine’s “Souvenirs” (Check out a live performance here). To sum up HARK! in three words: Masterful,  folky and orchestral.

Calexico – Seasonal Shift

Calexico, The duo of Joey Burns and John Convertino, have wrapped Christmas classics and a few originals in their iconic combination of windswept Spaghetti Western and Mexican music. The record opens with the orchestral “Hear The Bells,” a grand, sweeping evocation of the holiday season tempered by warm pedal steel, bright trumpets and the occasional Spanish lyric. The record also includes a cover of Tom Petty’s “Christmas All Over Again,” along with a dreamy take of John and Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” The band channels lonesome country folk on one of the album’s sweetest moments, “Peace of Mind”, a track that celebrates staying home. Calexico delivered a beautiful holiday record with swells of instrumental grandeur and captivating cultural crossovers.