If you prowl the music blogs these days, you'll find lots of interesting Christmas music, some old but much new, and the season's barely started. Blogsarefordogs has a holiday mix featuring a couple of tunes that are essential at my house from Nat King Cole and Vince Guaraldi, but also a fine version of Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Death Cab for Cutie and a strangely compelling take on "Welcome Christmas" from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands has a track from Aimee Mann's new Christmas disc. Historically, Christmas discs have been perceived as either a cynical cash-in or a give-up move, and when they're not, it's usually because they offer some sort of compelling new vision of the season. (That doesn't happen very often, however.) The tracks I've heard from Mann's album seem pleasant enough, but I wouldn't call them compelling. Still, I'll probably buy the whole album--but not until it gets to be December--and perhaps I'll be compelled by hearing the whole thing together.
Off the Christmas track, John at Lost in the 80s has a couple of cuts from the Cars' Panorama, their third album, a distinctly different experience from the first two. Because it didn't adhere to the formula established by The Cars and Candy-O, it was perceived as less radio-friendly--although John's point is that radio was more unfriendly to Panorama than Panorama was to the radio.