A Very Philly Holiday: Listen to seasonal jams by Riverby, The Right Fiction, The Lunar Year and more - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Tis the season for holiday music, and XPN favorites have come out swinging this year, from Phoebe Bridgers to the Philadelphia Eagles. As the weekend of celebration is nigh, we’re rounding up one more collection of holiday jams, this time focusing on those recorded by (and often written by) Philadelphia regional musicians.

Riverby – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

We love how a silly, 22-year-old SNL sketch starring Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan has become a serious holiday classic. For their version, Riverby spins it as a heartrending, yearning ballad…which, it surprisingly works incredibly well that way!

Alexis Cunningham and Eric Bazilian – “Let it Feel Like Christmas”

The first of two collaborations between seasoned regional rockers in this list, this tune finds The Hooters’ Eric Bazilian and singer-songwriter Alexis Cunningham teaming up to capture some of that holiday spirit.

Alexis Cunningham and Eric Bazilian - Let it Feel Like Christmas

Sacred Monsters – “A Sad Girl Christmas”

Philly’s Sacred Monsters is a pandemic project turned real world band, and for their latest single, “A Sad Girl Christmas,” they bring some Waitresses energy to the feeling of being single at the holidays, being 100% okay with that, and wishing everybody else would stop turning it into a thing.

Nero Catalano – “Penn Xmas”

The last day of the semester is a dumpster-diving goldmine at any college or university — and when you’re talking about a prestigious ivy league university, with students of wealth and privilege attending from all over the world, even more so. Philly guitarist and composer Nero Catalano (of Work Drugs and more) uses his rocking new single “Penn Xmas” to reflect on how one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

Nero Catalano - Penn XMas

The Lunar Year – “Merry Nightmare SUV”

A true story that will prove cathartic for holiday travelers: Katie Hackett took her car to a mechanic for a pre-holiday repair and the mechanic crashed it into the back of an SUV. So she wrote a killer punk song about it for her band The Lunar Year. Right now it’s only available on the Yule Log episode of the NJ Is The World podcast, but fear not: you don’t have to scrub through 4.5 hours of chatter to hear it, just cue up to the 9-minute mark and rage away.

Settled Arrows – “Pink Trees”

Singer-songwriter pianist Empress Mars returns with a new song from their long-running Settled Arrows project, addressing feelings of isolation during the holiday season and offering listeners a space for healing. “We live in an era where people are arguing over the meaning of words and finding violence in the battle for new structures,” they write of “Pink Trees.” “The song is a prayer of peace, expressing a longing for simplicity and authenticity.”

The Howard Hues – “New Eden Blues (X-mas Trees)

New classic rockers The Howard Hues prove Christmas tunes don’t all have to be sickly sweet (like a certain Mariah Carey tune) with the riffin’ “New Eden Blues (X-mas Trees).” Complete with an existential, spoken-word breakdown in the middle, this one puts a stadium rock spin on Christmas.

The Howard Hues - New Eden Blues (X-mas Trees) 

Melissa Manago and John Faye – “I Never Liked The Holidays (Before I Met You)”

The second collab between scene vets on this list, John Faye knows the recipe for a proper pop song, and his duet with June Divided’s Melissa Manago fits well within that mold. This yearning love song sparkles like South Philadelphia streets lit up in lights. 

Melissa Manago and John Faye - I Never Liked The Holidays (Before I Met You)

The Right Fiction – Christmas Market

How many of you visited the Christmas market in center city outside City Hall this year? It’s a Philly holiday tradition that finds a soundtrack in the waltzy, R&B Christmas Market EP by The Right Fiction. The feel-good, three-song release will help you imagine snow instead of rain in our bustling streets.

The Right Fiction - Christmas Market

Shawn Hennessey – “Cancer Free Christmas”

Despite the severity of its title, “Cancer Free Christmas” is full of levity. A brush with illness reminds Hennessey that health is wealth this holiday season.

Shawn Hennessey - Cancer Free Christmas

Suzanne Sheer – “Blue Christmas”

Only a deep, dusty voice can truly carry the classic “Blue Christmas” tune, and Sheer nails it. It’s a version worthy of holding up to Elvis Presley’s arrangement, which like it or not, has been probably circling your head like a wreath this holiday season. 

Suzanne Sheer - Blue Christmas

Airspace – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

Again, a serious holiday classic. For their version of “I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” Lehigh Valley rockers Airspace took cues from the 2009 Julian Casablancas cover — arguably the version that brought the song back into the public consciousness.

Airspace - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Mock Suns – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

Wrapping up the list, psychedelic Philly rockers Mock Suns put a dreamlike take on the ultimate sentimental classic from the holiday season. Gather round the fireplace with a mug of mulled wine and get cozy with your loved ones to this one.

Mock Suns - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
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