XFM - Its A Cool, Cool Christmas
Speaking of modern, well-intentioned, ostensibly painless music around the holidays, one still can't go too wrong with the It's A Cool, Cool Christmas compilation.

Joint-released for charity in 2000 by Jeepster Records and the XFM radio station, it's a grab-bag of a collection, roping in U.K. and U.S. indie names of the time — generally of the light and acoustic stripe the label laps up — to help buffer against the usual mind-pasting onslaught of generic carols. Think Calexico, Saint Etienne, Teenage Fanclub, The Dandy Warhols, Six By Seven, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and Low.

Three outright standouts: Grandaddy's tongue-in-check twinkle "Alan Parsons In A Winter Wonderland", Drugstore's reconciliatory, Brazilian/Western soundtrack-slice "Maybe At Christmas Time", and Lauren Laverne's beautiful and heart-breakingly delicate take on "In The Bleak Midwinter".

We still look forward to these every year, which is how it should be.