December 14, 2018


Happy Holidays, folks!

Can you believe the end of 2018 is nigh? About darn time. And since we’re nearing the end of the year, that means all of the year-end “best of” lists have been pouring in the last several weeks. Nearly every news outlet has ranked their favorite albums and singles released this year (with NPR’s top ten all being releases by female artists, wahoo!), the 2019 Grammys nominations have been announced, and Spotify has wrapped up all of their users streaming data into a flashy slideshow recapping their year in music.

The annual roundup is done differently for cmd+f – instead of cracking out a top albums and singles list of the year, I’ve called on a handful of friends to reflect on their 2018 to write about how music brought them joy this year. All of the letters have differing themes, with some highlighting music re-discoveries of gems of yesteryear, and I’m so excited to share them all with you. Let the second annual cmd+vent calendar festivities begin!

In the spirit of the holidays, and the day before launching our first letter of the annual cmd+vent calendar entry, it felt appropriate to provide a handful of unconventional Christmas songs. We’re about ten days away them The Big Day, and I’m already over hearing “Jingle Bell Rock” when ducking in and out of grocery stores. This week I’ve selected eight Christmas songs to shake up your playlists this season.

Remember: if you like what you hear, spread the cheer. Tell your friends about these artists and share the love.

You can contact me by replying directly to the newsletter that is mailed to your inbox every Friday, via my Twitter account, or using the contact page on the cmd+f website.

P.S. If you would like to have this letter sent to your email every Friday, please head over to this link right here to subscribe to never miss a weekly roundup!


“Driving Under Stars” by Marika Hackman | The song that prompted this week’s letter! Marika Hackman quietly released a Christmas-themed EP in 2016, and sandwiched this beautiful little number in the middle of it. I’ve spent hours looping this pseudo-Blondie meets Warpaint gem wishing I had a Christmastime road trip to the midWest. Listen here

“#1HappyHoliday” by DRAM | Sexy Christmas music without the creep factor? DRAM got the memo last year and DELIVERT. There’s no shady dubious consent (cue “Baby It’s Cold Outside” discourse), or witnessing love affairs (I’m looking at you, “Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”), but a wholesome promise to make sweet, sweet love to your one and only this holiday. Listen here

“Jingle Bells” by The Barberettes | If you’re into Bing Crosby’s White Christmas album, but know you’re 1.5 listens away from your roommate strangling you for putting on “Mele Kalikimaka” for the 17th time in a row, I bring you The Barberettes. The South Korean doo-wop group are a modern day Anderson Sisters, dropping a handful of new Christmas covers and jams every year. I’ve shared the classic “Jingle Bells,” which opens in English, and the second verse is sung in Korean. Perfectly low key to slip into that Ugly Sweater Party playlist for the k-pop stans following this letter. Listen here

“Cross You Off My List” by Lola Kirke | Since Amazon Originals decided to make the worst business decision of all time and shelve Mozart in the Jungle from their TV programming, I’ve been wondering what the heck is the daughter of a rock legend Lola Kirke up to now? She’s making cute as heck Christmas music, of course. “Cross You Off My List” is rather Best Coasty and upbeat; I can confirm this is what Christmas in California sounds like. Listen here

“Lonely Man of Winter” (Doveman Mix feat. Melissa Mary Ahern) by Sufjan Stevens | Sufjan Stevens take the crown of Christmas music for those of us not patient enough to sit through another Pentatonix caroling. Sufjan delivered Christmas to us earthlings a month ago with his new “Lonely Man of Winter,” along with a separate Doveman Mix that’s washed in a cosmic fairy dust. Listen here

“Sister Winter” by Joseph | Speaking of Sufjan: Pacific Northwest sister trio Joseph emerged from the deep woods and covered a stripped down version of “Sister Winter,” one of his more morose Christmas carols. It’s especially hair-raisingly beautiful at the 1:24 mark. Listen here

“When the Gloves Come Off” (feat. Ryan Beatty) – Tyler, The Creator | Tyler, the Creator really out here dropping a Christmas EP entirely inspired by The Grinch. And it’s dope. Trust me. Listen here

“El Burrito Sabanero” – Aloe Blacc | My friend and dear editor, Kimmie, said,
“El Burrito got an update!” This beloved children’s Christmas tune is essentially the “Frosty the Snowman” of Venezuela, and has had a handful of covers over the decades, including a massively popular one in 2006 by none other than Juanes. Aloe Blacc dipped into the Spotify recording studios this year to sing the song. Half way through the recording he changes it up turn this lil’ donkey into a soulful, joyous romp. Listen here

If you’d like to hear more offbeat Christmas tunes, check out the growing cmd+f Christmas playlist here!


A(lmost a)ll of the tracks shared in this week’s letter, and previous cmd+f letters, are archived into a single playlist on Spotify for you to follow here.

Subscribe to that playlist, share it with friends, or take some inspiration from the ever growing list to compile some of your own.

If you’re interested in listening to what I’m rinsing this month, you can follow my December 2018 playlist here (and here’s a link for my November 2018 playlist if you’re curious). There I will dump a hodgepodge of new and old songs that fit my mood and the trends of the month. Having a personal monthly playlist makes a year in review so easy. Share your playlists with me!

See you tomorrow for our first cmd+vent calendar entry!