MUSIC If you're getting sick and tired of hearing the same old Christmas carols playing on repeat everyday in the mall, and you're looking for something a little different for the holidays - there's a whole bunch of options for you. Here's my personal top list of faves, including a bit of everything, from mellow peaceful stuff, to contemporary pop/rock, to classic rock N roll, and even metal (at the bottom).

Just follow the links to pre-listen to the album. If you like what you here, you can also get it on MP3 download or CD straight away!

No Biebers in this one. Sorry, kids ;)

Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - This is Christmas

Ash frontman Tim Wheeler already started collaborating with singer/songwriter for some acoustic work on the last "A-Z" suite of songs released by the band. The two have now teamed up again for this album of 11 sweet power-pop Christmas carols.

Stand out tracks include "Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)", quite reminiscent of classic Ash, as well as the first single release off the album - "Home for the Holidays".

X-massy level: Very High

KT Tunstall - Have Yourself A Very KT Christmas

Experimental and fun. Apart from the typical guitar driven sound, KT prives herself being quite a multi-instrumentalist on this one, bringing other interesting instruments to the mix, including brass and piano. KT made this lovely mini-album of festive Holiday tunes only a few months after releasing her second album Drastic Fantastic!

X-massy level: High

Tori Amos - Midwinter Graces

Tori Amos doing jolly X-mas carols? HWAT?! What may seem like a rather unexpected release at first is actually quite far from the conventional X-mas album. Instead Midwinter Graces sound very much like a Tori Amos record. Apart from the piano, which is still present on the main bulk of the songs, Tori also brings various other, larger orchestrated arrangements to the table for this release.

X-massy level: Fair

Canned Heat - Christmas Album

Time for some good ol' rock N roll! Not too serious of an album, just some fun and humourus Christmas tunes in classic rock N' roll arrangement. Recommended for any fan of the genre!

X-massy level: Moderate

REO Speedwagon - Not So Silent Night

Rock veterans REO Speedwagon provide with more of a serious and traditional Christmas album than the Canned Heat one. "Not So Silent Night" is not really the loud, screaming rock record the title implies. But instead it's a nice collection of traditional carols performed with a classic rock arrangement. A fair trade-off that should keep the traditionalist as well as the rocker satisfied alike.

X-massy level: High

Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong

Grammy Award–winning singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan made this epic piece of music in 2006. The album opens with a cover of John Lennon's classic "Happy X-mas (War is Over)", accompanied by a children and youth choir, as well as acoustic guitars, bells and percussion. Sarah also does a duett with Diana Krall on the closing track.

X-massy level: High

Kate Rusby - While Mortals Sleep + Sweet Bells

While Mortals Sleep is the 2011 holiday release from England's finest Folk singer and interpreter of classic material. With this release, Kate presents her second volume of South Yorkshire inspired songs and carols, following on from 2008's Sweet Bells. Both albums highly recommended, especially if Folk and acoustic music is your cup o' tea!

X-massy level: Pretty High

Bob Dylan - Christmas In the Heart

Already mentioned this one amongst the odd Christmas albums, but as it's actually quite a nice record, I figured I'd list it here as well. Classic 50's style Christmas music. "Christmas in the Heart" might be Dylan's 47th LP, but it's certainly his first Christmas album!

In a commitment to ending hunger, all of Bob Dylan's U.S. current and future royalties from sales of Christmas In The Heart will be donated in perpetuity to Feeding America, guaranteeing that more than four million meals will be provided to over 1.4 million people in need in this country during this year's holiday season. 

X-massy level: Very High

Jethro Tull - Christmas Album

British prog-rockers Jethro Tull made this excellent compilation of new material and re-recordings of Tull's own suitably themed material and arrangements of traditional Christmas music, for the holiday season of 2003.

There aren't that many heavy and driving rock tracks to be found but even so it still works surprisingly well as a new Jethro Tull record. The album offers a nice blend of baroque, medieval, modern jazz, rock, and Celtic sounds.

X-massy level: Moderate

Taylor Swift - Holiday Collection

Young country pop/rock sensation Taylor Swift's own mini-album of Christmas songs. Includes two new songs by Taylor, as well as four traditional Christmas carols, performed in a usual Taylor Swift arrangement. Great for any fan of Taylor's, as well as anyone looking for a Yuletide album with a contemporary touch.

X-massy level: Pretty High

Ringo Starr - The Christmas Collection

Ringo's "The Christmas Collection" (previously titled "I Wanna Be Santa Claus") is the Christmas album The Beatles never got the time and opportunity to make. If you're familiar with any of the Beatles drummer's other solo work, you'll be home here. 12 cuts of jolly, sparkling Christmas carols. Very upbeat, positive and fun all throughout.

X-massy level: High

...And now a little something for the metalheads:

Rob Halford - Halford 3: Winter Songs

Previously mentioned in the list of odd X-mas albums is this collection of Christmas carols, in a classic heavy metal outfit. On Winter Songs, the voice of Judas Priest himself; Rob Halford, moves between aggro Painkillers like "Get Into the Spirit", to melodic gallops of "Oh Come Manuel", to ballads like the title track, to more traditional carols such as "Oh Holy Night" and "Come All Ye Faithful" all delivered with huge, bombastic arrangements with loads of drama.

X-massy level: Moderate

Metal X-Mas...and a Happy New Year

We Wish You A Metal Xmas & A Headbanging New Year is the all hard rock and
metal compilation of everyone s favorite holiday songs which features the likes of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters / Nirvana / Them Crooked Vultures), Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top), George Lynch (Dokken) and more! This new version also comes with a second disc, featuring Dez Fafara (DevilDriver), Doro Pesch, Steve Lips Kudlow (Anvil) & other metal greats!

X-massy level: Moderate

Twisted Sister - A Twisted Christmas

80's hair metal band Twisted Sister's Yuletide LP of 2006 features a little different rendition of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". Different from Mr. Halford's pretentious and dramatic version, anyway. This Twisted versio should sound very familiar to any fan of the band, however, as it's basically "We're Not Gonna Take it" with new...or actually even older, lyrics. If you can overlook the cheesy rip-off, you'll have a nice collection of catchy, chunky metal carols to enjoy here.

X-massy level: Fairly High

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