Christmas songs are always a highlight of the holiday season, but to some people, the old standards might be getting a little stale.

A group of staff at the University of Manitoba’s campus/community radio station (UMFM) have given the Christmas carol a bit of an edge with the upcoming release of Nothing Under the Tree, a collection of punk rock Christmas songs.

The compilation album, which features 11 Winnipeg punk and emo bands – including Parkview, Ceilings, Alone I Walk, and The Leftists – is a fundraiser for the Winnipeg Humane Society and will be available online Friday.

The project was the brainchild of Bryan Sveinson, a member of UMFM’s board of directors and a volunteer radio host.

Sveinson said he started out with bands he knew personally – who he’d worked with on his weekly UMFM show The Pity Party – but eventually broadened the search to bands he thought would just make a great Christmas tune.

Bryan Sveinson

… and in a city with a big punk scene like Winnipeg, he was spoiled for choice.

“I think it has something to do with the city,” Sveinson told 680 CJOB Monday afternoon.

“Punk itself is a real working-class genre of music, and this is a real proud working-class city, and I think it just fits in.”

Another natural fit for the album – which features seven covers of holiday classics and four originals – was connecting with the Winnipeg Humane Society.

“We had this idea to do a Christmas album with a bunch of local bands, so when we started organizing and getting it together, we thought, if we’re gonna do this, we might as well do it for charity,” said Sveinson.

“We’re all huge animal fans. All the bands are really huge fans of animals, and they (the animals) deserve a really nice Christmas.”

To pre-order the album, you visit UMFM’s Bandcamp site and for $5 or as much as you want to donate, you get all 11 tracks, cover art and other bonus content. Every dollar goes to the Humane Society.

It may be, as Sveinson says, “sad, slow, angry, complainy kind of music”, but it can still get you into the holiday spirit.

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