Actually good holiday music

Schmaltz-free holiday music? Who knew such a thing was possible?

Aimee Mann, actually.

One of our favorite singer-songwriters, Mann has released One More Drifter in the Snow in order, she says, to recapture “the spooky beauty and mystery of Christmas.” Tall order, that — but there is something really beautiful and mysterious about how she’s managed to breathe new life into old holiday standards, including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Winter Wonderland.”

The interplay between Mann’s seductive, Karen Carpenter–esque vocals and her band’s rich neo-folk instrumentation (vintage keyboards, slide guitars, Tom Waits–ish percussion) makes this CD way more than just the standard seasonal curiosity.

You probably know Mann from her ’80s New Wave iconhood in the band ’Til Tuesday (“Voices Carry”) or from her status as an indie-rock goddess (the Oscar-nominated song “Save Me” from the movie Magnolia). Now she’s also the one musician who has made holiday songs sound like actual music again — not just kitsch.

“>BUY One More Drifter in the Snow

“>HEAR brief samples of all the songs on this record in a YouTube video released by Mann’s label, SuperEgo Records

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Actually good holiday music