The Best Indie Christmas Songs

Get into the Christmas spirit with The Lathums, Phoebe Bridgers, Calexico and more

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Every Christmas season, indie artists take it upon themselves to record or cover Christmas songs. From classics to new compositions there is a lot to be loved. If you’re looking for a few tunes to get you into a festive mood, check out these indie Christmas songs and subscribe to our Christmas playlist.

1. The Linda Lindas – Groovy Xmas

What a year it has been for The Linda Lindas. Since releasing their debut album Growing Up in February 2022, the teenage riot grrrl band from LA have made quite an impression. In the summer of 2023, they will open for Paramore on their US tour alongside UK rockers Foals and Bloc Party. This Christmas, the four piece give us holiday banger Groovy Xmas.

We were inspired […] to write our own carol that you can add to your jolly playlist and enjoy at holiday gatherings! Please sing along and share: and we hope you have a very Groovy Xmas and an awesome new year!

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2. Stars – Christmas Anyway

Canada’s Stars released their holiday Single Christmas Anyway exclusively for Bandcamp Friday at a ‘pay-what-you-can’ price. The track’s proceeds will be split with with the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, who provide Indigenous women and their children a safe and supportive environment. The band comment on the meaning behind the track:

In a world where the algorithm (and other horrible things) has made us all feel further apart, going home for the holidays isn’t easy for everyone. What is it about these days that makes us feel we have to go home to face the loved ones we simply cannot ever be at peace with? We have no idea, but we do know that sometimes a simple song can get you through at least a few minutes of holiday hell. We hope this one does that for you. We love you all. Merry Christmas.

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3. Arkells – The Last Christmas (We Ever Spend Apart)

Having released their seventh studio album, Blink Twice, this year, Canadian rockers Arkells had already done a festive single in the form of Pub Crawl. The Last Christmas (We Ever Spend Apart) is their first proper Christmas single.

Up until recently, we had little interest in Christmas songs, let alone writing them, but after the pandemic and the social isolation that came with it, we think about the holidays in a different and more significant way. We started with Pub Crawl last year; and had a blast writing and recording the song despite the not being able to be together. Looking back on those holidays, we couldn’t shake the feeling of how we miss the mundane and sometimes arduous activities that happen when you go home for the holidays. So many of us couldn’t see our folks or extended family because of lockdown, and we wanted to write a song about never taking those little moments for granted.

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4. The Lathums – Krampus

Having dropped an amazing debut album in 2021, British indie rockers The Lathums followed-up with an anti-Christmas song in the form of Krampus. Originally a scary figure from Alpine folklore, Krampus is like an anti-thesis to Santa Claus, punishing the naughty children.

It was about halfway through the first lockdown when Johnny played the bassline in rehearsals and I thought it sounded like a Christmas song. Scott and I had been round at his house watching the Inside No.9 Christmas special, which is where I found out about the horror of Krampus. If we were to do a Christmas song, I wanted to do it with that dark side.

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5. Kytes – Hello (And It’s Christmas)

Following on from their sophomore album Good Luck, German indie pop quartet Kytes round off the year with their first festive single Hello (And It’s Christmas). The song is very much in the style of classics such as Santa Baby and Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. The video sees the band perform the track with Beatles style clothes and haircuts.

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6. Pale Waves – Last Christmas (Wham! Cover)

Oh boy, that Wham! classic. Whether you love it or hate it, you’ll enjoy Pale Waves’ take on this one. The Manchester band make Last Christmas sound like it was one of their own compositions: unapologetic pop with a melancholic undertone. The cover was recorded as part of the Spotify Singles at Metropolis Studios in London.

7. Sufjan Stevens – Lonely Man Of Winter

Lonely Man Of Winter is a super rare Sufjan Stevens track that was originally written for his “Xmas Song Xchange Contest”. The song was shared with one fan only, Alex Duffy, who won the contest back in 2007. Lonely Man Of Winter, including a new mix and another rare track titled Every Day Is Christmas, and is available on vinyl.

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8. Phoebe Bridgers – So Much Wine

Phoebe Bridgers releases a charity track every year around Christmas. This year, the songstress has recorded her version of The Handsome Family’s So Much Wine. This year’s proceeds will go to the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center which specialises in helping those living with HIV.

So Much Wine is the sixth of her Christmas cover, following on from last year’s rendition of Tom Waits’ Day After Tomorrow. In 2020 she covered Merle Haggard’s If We Make It Thru December (2020), Simon & Garfunkel’s 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night (2019), McCarthy Trenching’s Christmas Song (2018), and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (2017).

In 2023, she will join Taylor Swift on her US tour.

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9. Calexico – Hear The Bells

Hear The Bells is taken from Calexico’s holiday album Seasonal Shift, released in 2020 via City Slang. More than a Christmas album, the record reflects on the diverse cultural heritage found in the American holiday season and also includes covers of classics by John Lennon and Tom Petty.

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10. KT Tunstall – Hey, Mr. Santa!

Singer-songwriter KT Tunstall’s Christmas single Hey, Mr Santa! delivers a humourous and anti-materialistic message. The track was written by Tunstall and renowned Hollywood composer Christopher Lennertz, who has worked on the scores for Horrible Bosses, Bad Moms, and Pitch Perfect 3. Hey, Mr Santa! comes with a lyric video directed by Max Downey.

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11. Holy Moly & The Crackers – Punk Drunk Xmas Eve

Holy Moly & The Crackers hail from the North East of England and are best described as “gipsy folk rock”, if there is such a thing. Punks Drunk Xmas Eve is their first ever Christmas single and comes with a Tim Burton-esque video that is full of dark and funny moments. If you want to turn things up a notch this year, Holy Moly and here guys got you sorted.

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12. Sparks – Christmas Without a Prayer

In 1974, Thank God It’s Not Christmas appeared on the Sparks’ third studio album Kimono My House. Since that time, Sparks have created a unique musical legacy both on record and in live performances, most recently by founding the supergroup FFS, consisting of Sparks and Franz Ferdinand.

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13. Marika Hackman – Driving Under Stars

In between her debut album We Slept At Last and the follow up I’m Not Your Man, British artist Marika Hackman released the Christmas EP Wonderland. The EP features her own compositions as well as her take on the classic O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. One of her own compositions, Driving Under Stars, is believed to be inspired by the Chris Rea classic, Driving Home For Christmas.

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14. Lucius – Christmas Time Is Here

LA-based four piece Lucius recorded this Christmas classic with Richard Swift (The Shins, The Arcs) before he passed away in the summer of 2018 Christmas Time Is Here was released as part of a 7” single series for the The Fug Yep Soundation to raise awareness for addiction. All proceeds will go to the Swift family as well as MusiCares and Music Support UK organisations.

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Want more? Check out our Indie Christmas playlist.

Deborah Jacobs

Music blogger by night, SEO by day. Started Indie is not a Genre in 2011, will always prefer live music over recordings and intimate pub gigs over arena shows.

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