40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

Nick Lowe, 'Quality Street'
Courtesy of Yep Roc Records17/40

17. Nick Lowe, 'Quality Street'

The Lowe composition "Christmas at the Airport," about a stranded traveler in a locked airport, sets the tone for this 2013 album: world-weary, but still full of good cheer. "I'm doing Santa's sleigh ride on the baggage carousel," he sings. ("Quality Street" is the name of a British chocolate assortment, often deployed as stocking stuffers.) Excellently, the most raucous cut is "Silent Night": recklessly ignoring its title, Lowe fills out the sound with organ, horns, and surf guitar.

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