The words "Christmas album" strike fear through the hearts of many a music fan as after all, they have always been a cash cow for labels, right? Stretch back through time and each winter has been littered by records of varying degrees of quality with most destined for the Woolworths bargain basket before we even reach the 25th. On occasion they haven't always been delivered by major label puppets but have been made out of love before money, take Sufjan Stevens' fantastic collection of songs which he had sent to friends as gifts before eventually compiling a release.

Conor Oberst recorded this set of Christmas standards not long after Fevers & Mirrors, when his output was arguably at its most intimate and charming. Add a whole cast of Saddle Creek players to the mix and you have possibly the most indie seasonal record of them all. With his voice at its most endearing, nervous and wobbly best we are treated to a whole host of classics delivered in true Bright Eyes home recorded fashion. Close your eyes and you're in a Nebraska kitchen with the vocals being recorded right in front of you.

Maria Taylor's delicate harmony sits perfectly on 'The First Noel' while 'Little Drummer Boy' gets a Mike Mogis makeover with distorted vocals and crunching drums. I suddenly have a huge urge to dig out that Letting off The Happiness CD and relive my early twenties. 'Blue Christmas' drunkenly swings from the banisters and I think how I miss the Saddle Creek family. 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' has never sounded so emo and it's no bad thing, if anything this record is a reminder of how great Conor Oberst once was. I'll definitely be revisiting some of those early EPs, but first back to The O.C box set. Seth has to choose between Summer and Anna! Oh to be Seth Cohen.

The profits of the original release of this album went to a Nebraska AIDS charity. I'm not sure where the profits from this reissueare headed and maybe it's wishful thinking that this isn't another Christmas bonus for artist and label. In a sad reverse I guess it'll make a nice soundtrack to drinking shitty coffee from red cups this December.

Further recommended Christmas listening

  • Phil Spector - A Christmas Gift For You
  • The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
  • Sufjan Stevens - Songs For Christmas
  • The O.C Mix 3 - Have A Very Merry Chrismukkah
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas