Artist: Cheap Trick
Title: Christmas Christmas (Big Machine Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Cheap Trick, The Beatles' holiday recordings
Tell me more: A holiday spirit pervades Cheap Trick's Christmas Christmas, but the bottom line is the 12-song disc still rocks with the exuberance of any album from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. The material here is a mix of original and covers, all branded with Cheap Trick's signature blend of power pop and rock 'n' roll crunch. There are highlights aplenty, including a Sex Pistols-flavored "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)," a flat-out rocking cover of "Run Rudolph Run" (think ELO on steroids) and shimmering choral-styled "Our Father Of Life." Over the years there have been many covers of the Kinks' 1977 gem "Father Christmas," but Cheap Trick's 2017 version is the only memorable version this writer has heard since the Ray Davies-penned original was released 40 years ago. Information: CheapTrick.com.
Artist: Blackmore's Night
Title: Winter Carols (Minstrel Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Renaissance music, Ritchie Blackmore, the Corrs
Tell me more: While the music of Blackmore's Night is generations removed from the groundbreaking hard rock Ritchie Blackmore helped craft with Deep Purple and Rainbow, discerning music fans of all tastes will likely appreciate the Renaissance-styled sounds on Winter Carols. The two-disc set (the expanded 2017 title features three bonus tracks and is available on audio CD and digital formats) is simply outstanding, with singer Candice Night (whose wonderful vocals draw strong comparisons with Corrs singer Andrea Corr) using her winning soprano on moving versions of seasonal favorites including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Come All Ye Faithful," "I Saw Three Ships" and others. Information: blackmoresnight.com.
Artist: Lindsey Stirling
Title: Warmer In The Winter (Lindseystomp Music / Concord Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Lindsey Stirling, Pentatonix
Tell me more: The first-ever holiday album from Lindsey Stirling (Warmer in the Winter) is everything fans of the virtuoso violinist have dreamed of, with the 13-track set featuring a mix of instrumentals as well as selections where she is joined by guests for strong collaborations. Among the stellar instrumentals are Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," a swirling "Carol of the Bells" and Celtic-styled "I Saw Three Ships." There are several strong originals on the collection, including the title track "Warmer in the Winter" featuring Trombone Shorty and the tuneful pop song "Time to Fall in Love" bolstered by guest vocalist Alex Gaskarth (of All Time Low). Information: LindseyStirling.com.
Artist: Charles Billingsley
Title: It's Christmas Time Again (Crest Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Michael Bublé
Tell me more: Charles Billingsley's delightful It's Christmas Time Again is a bona fide trip down Memory Lane. Tapping into the traditional jazz and American Songbook approach spanning early icons such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to modern-day singers Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Bublé, Billingsley has the shining voice and artistic touch to blend artful music making with nostalgic yuletide cheer. The disc soars and inspires with an artful mix of buoyant material ("The Man With The Bag," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"), powerful spiritual classics (a particularly stirring "O Holy Night," "Panis Angelicus") and more nuanced ballads ("It's Christmas Time Again," "December"). Billingsley closes out the set with an excellent version of the Beatles' tender "Goodnight." Information: charlesbillingsley.com.
Artist: Us The Duo
Title: Our Favorite Time Of Year (Alvarado Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Pentatonix
Tell me more: Fans of contemporary pop will want to hear the first Christmas album from Us The Duo (the moniker for husband-and-wife Michael and Carissa Alvarado). The aptly-titled Our Favorite Time Of Year features plenty of infectious tracks, including a breezy take on Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime," a ukulele-anchored "Jingle Bell Rock" (that showcases the couple's potent vocal harmony sound), a playful "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and a jazzy, reworked take on "Silent Night." Us The Duo will perform a mix of holiday classics and originals in Los Angeles at the Theater at the Ace Hotel on Dec. 9. Editor's note: Amazon Original albums and playlists are exclusively available to download on Amazon Music and stream on Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited. Information: Amazon.com/ustheduo.
The 2017 holiday season has also seen the release of new Christmas music titles featuring Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Sia, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and Fantasia.