Philadelphia music acts have teamed up for The Philly Holiday Album, a festive new benefit compilation put together by local musician Jon Pritchard.
The 44-song collection, available on the Bandcamp music platform, kicks off with Nik Greeley’s “Have a Funky Little Christmas” and concludes with Hey Slow’s “Silent Night. ” In between are contributions from indie rockers Ali Awan, Madalean Gauze, Stereo League, Dawn Drapes, and Trap Rabbit, and Hannah Taylor with Will Donnelly of Low Cut Connie, who revive the Saturday Night Live song “Christmastime for the Jews.”
And coming Wednesday, Low Cut Connie front man Adam Weiner — newly crowned by the New Yorker as “Pandemic Person of the Year” — is releasing a new holiday song, “Christmas Makes Me Cry,” on all streaming platforms.
They’re two bright lights in a blizzard of new Christmas music releases. And, yes, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist for your Christmas week merriment.
The Philly Holiday Album is a benefit for the National Independent Venue Association’s Save Our Stages fund and Toys for Tots. Pritchard does a version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” as J. Pritch and is a member of Slomo Sapiens, who weigh in with the Def Leppard parody “Pour Some Xmas On Me.”
The versatile singer and multi-instrumentalist also plays in Taylor Swish, “Philly’s #1 emo math Taylor Swift cover band,” who do Swift’s “Christmas Tree Farm.”
He began working on the compilation in late November. “I miss my friends in the Philly music community,” he said, “and I wanted a way to bring us all together and feel like we are connected while we are apart.”
The album cover art, designed by James Everhart of the band Scantron, shows the Boot & Saddle, the South Philly club that closed permanently last month.
“We can’t afford to lose any more music venues,” says Pritchard. “I just wanted to bring some kind of normalcy to this crazy year, make people smile, and spread holiday cheer. If that can help us prevent another venue from closing, too, that will be a holiday miracle.”
The Holiday Album costs $15 on Bandcamp, where it can be sampled for free. On Christmas Day, it will stream free on YouTube.
More music from Philly artists
Plenty more Philly-connected artists are active in the holiday music space this season:
WALLIS — the 15-year old Montgomery County teenager whose full name is Wallis Schriver — has a YouTube hit with “Lonely Christmas,” a viral video that her father shot outside their house on his iPhone.
Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr., out of East Oak Lane, has released his second full-length holiday collection, The Christmas Album. Along with chestnuts like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” it includes two of his own songs, plus the traditional Hanukkah song “Ma’oz Tzur,” sung with his wife, Nicolette Robinson.
Upper Darby rock legend Todd Rundgren has a bizarre new song called “Flappie,” which is an English-language cover of a Dutch song that was a hit in the Netherlands in 1978. It’s about a boy who becomes distraught when he learns his father has cooked his pet rabbit for Christmas dinner.
Strawberry Mansion-raised R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan, who has a new album due in January, has released a soulful take on “The First Noel.”
Germantown singer Karl Blau’s Bandcamp release Winter Holiday Arrangements includes a moving cover of “Snow Is Falling in Manhattan” by the late David Berman of Purple Mountains.
Louis Knight, the Narberth singer who was an American Idol finalist this year, has released a version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
And Montco punk Americana band Three Chord Money’s gritty holiday tune is “Hey Now, It’s Christmas.”
National acts with Christmas albums
Along with Odom’s, there are several other noteworthy new single-artist holiday albums released this season.
Dolly Parton’s winning A Holly Dolly Christmas includes duets with Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus.
American Idol alum Jordin Sparks’ Cider & Hennessy is full of original songs that put a contemporary hip-hop and R&B spin on classic holiday themes.
Carrie Underwood’s My Gift takes a more traditional approach.
Whistling singer-songwriter Andrew Bird’s Hark! is a winsome delight.
The Bird and the Bee, the retro pop duo of Adele producer Greg Kurstin and Inara George, made the standout holiday album Put Up the Lights.
Jazz keyboard player Cory Henry’s Christmas With You is also worth seeking out, as is Home for the Holidays, a collection on the Atlanta hip-hop and R&B label Love Renaissance.
My streaming Spotify playlist includes songs from those releases, plus 2020 holiday tunes by Phoebe Bridgers, Black Pumas, Jonas Brothers, Margo Price, U.S. Girls, Mandy Moore, Ruston Kelly, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Tegan and Sarah, as well as the clever piano ballad “Another Year” by Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas O’Connell. That one is my favorite new Christmas song of the year.