Christmas may come but one time each year, but its musical counterparts get to hang out for the better part of winter. Every November, it seems we’re forced to choke down another set of overwrought, speedily produced holiday tunes from Mariah Carey, or Taylor Swift, or the cast of Glee, and thus fall further and further out of love with all things holiday music—which is why we’ve cast aside our inner Scrooges and dug through the stacks to find three festive offerings that we not only like but also wouldn’t mind listening to beyond the holiday season. So whether you’re last-minute shopping or simply looking for a way to bump up the holiday cheer, we encourage you to read on and pick up any (or all) of the following.
1) Béla Fleck & The Flecktones’ Jingle All the Way: Get past the do-nothing title, and this Christmas record will likely become an instant favorite. Béla Fleck has assembled an extended version of the Flecktones that includes Andy Statman, Edgar Meyer, and Tuvan throat-singers Alash Ensemble for this adventurous, jazz-tinged outing. There isn’t a bad or even an average cut, and the really outstanding ones—like a version of “Silent Night” that achieves a Miles Davis level of cool, a Django Reinhardt-meets-bebop take on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” or the funkiest jam on Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” ever—skip right past the “stop, holidays-only” sign, and sail on into anytime-listening land.