The Holiday Spirit

Seattle Does Christmas Music Better

Songs for the season from Kris Orlowski and Hollis, Pearl Jam, Brandi Carlile, Death Cab for Cutie, Mary Lambert, and more.

By Seth Sommerfeld December 9, 2014

It is all around us. It is inescapable. It is Christmas music season. Baby Jesus have mercy on our souls (and ears).

Thankfully, Seattle musicians aren't contributing to the onslaught of holiday muzak. They have their own way to get into the spirit. For example singer-songwriter Kris Orlowski and Hollis (the Flavr Blue) just released "Is This Christmas," an original love duet about not responding the the seemingly misguided hustle of Christmas. The song got us thinking about other unique local takes on the holiday season, so we've gathered up a collection of the best to give your Christmas listening a refreshing change of pace.

It may come as a surprise to those that don't follow the band closely, but Pearl Jam has released a Christmas single every year since 1991. While they've not all featured holiday tunes, there are more than a few festive numbers in the bunch, including the rockabilly-tinged "Don't Believe in Christmas."

In 2012, Seattle's own John Roderick (the Long Winters) teamed up with his pal Jonathan Coulton to make a pretty terrific holiday record entitled One Christmas at a Time. Roderick also might wins points for wearing a Santa suit better than any of his Emerald City peers. Evidence of this exists in video below, where he plays "The Week Between," his tune about dealing with the week between Christmas and New Year (music starts at 1:30).

Deep Sea Diver put on quite the festive show last December at Neumos, including an opening melody of tunes from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the original downer "It's Christmas Time (and I Am Still Alive)." They threw a classic holiday jam in the middle of the live version in order to liven things up a bit.

In contrast to Deep Sea Diver's melancholy, Shelby Earl taps into the romantic side of the holiday with "This Christmas Is For Us."

Harvey Danger took the idea of non-traditional Christmas tune to the extreme back in 2004 with "Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas" and its tale of working the holiday at a movie theater.

Brandi Carlile explores the loss of that youthful holiday joy and becoming disillusioned with the holiday with "Christmas 1984."

Tapping into the spirit of "Blue Christmas," Death Cab for Cutie's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" captures longing for a lover far away on the holiday.

Even traditional Christmas tunes can take a turn in the hands of Seattle artists, as is the case with David Bazan's haunting (and fairly cynical) version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

Alright, we can't end this without at least one traditional take on the holidays, so here's Mary Lambert performing a lovely rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

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