I know that December has just begun, but I've already been blasting Christmas music for weeks.

No, I'm not one of those people who decorate the front lawn with inflatable reindeer in September. In fact, overall, I tend to listen to comparatively little Christmas music, feeling that a wee bit of "Winter Wonderland" usually goes a long way.

But that was before Bad Religion released its holiday album.

Yes, that Bad Religion -- the legendary SoCal punk-rock group that gave the world such immortal songs as "We're Only Gonna Die," "Eat Your Dog," "The Positive Aspects of Negative Thinking" and, perhaps most uplifting of all, "Misery and Famine."

That's the same band that is now giving a much-needed, Doc Marten-clad kick in the butt to the holiday songbook with its newly released "Christmas Songs."

Sounds strange, I know. But this album is destined to be a Christmas classic.

OK, so maybe not "classic" in the same sense as the Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" or George Winston's "December." But this album wasn't seemingly crafted for the people with Johnny Mathis, Babs, Mannheim Steamroller and Josh Groban stuck in the CD carousel each December. It's for those who believe in a Santa who wears a mohawk under his cap and bright-red dickey while working on his sled in the garage. It's pure "Jingle Bell Punk," if you will, intended for those who aren't interested in having a "Silent Night."

The album absolutely rocks, in the fashion that we've come to expect from Bad Religion. More importantly, it works -- better than I could've possibly expected. The arrangements are razor-sharp, as is the musicianship, and Greg Graffin's vocals are hair-raisingly good.

I never dreamed that I'd want to hear Bad Religion do such treasured holiday staples as "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "White Christmas and "Little Drummer Boy." Now, I want to hear the group do them over and over again.

"Christmas Songs" is available for $10.99 at www.badreligionstore.com. The band is donating 20 percent of proceeds to SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (www.snapnetwork.org).

MORE HIP HOLIDAY CDS: Bad Religion's "Christmas Songs" got me thinking about other cool alternatives to the regular holiday playlist. As much as I love listening to Nat King Cole and Vince Guaraldi, I simply need a break every so often from the standard shopping mall musical mix.

Here are some dynamite and different options, listed in chronological order:

"A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector" (1963): Christmas standards get the "Wall of Sound" treatment on this set featuring the Ronettes, Darlene Love and others from the Spector camp. It's considered an absolute classic by basically everyone who's ever heard it. Yet, it's amazing how many people still haven't heard it.

"The Ventures' Christmas Album," (1965): Yuletide offering from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame instrumental act, best known for crafting the "Hawaii Five-O" theme.

"Goin' Home for Christmas," Merle Haggard (1982): The country legend croons mainly from the regular Christmas songbook, but the album's best track is Hag's own "If We Make It Through December."

"Blue Yule" (1991): Roy Milton, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy McCracklin and other talents are featured on this blues/R&B set.

"Merry Axemas: A Guitar Christmas" (2005): Would you like some riffs to go with that eggnog? Then check out this Christmas compilation featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson and other guitar heroes.

"Christmas Songs," Diana Krall (2005): This might well be my all-time favorite holiday recording, as well as arguably the jazz star's overall best album.

"It's Christmas of Course," Darlene Love (2007): Need more Love? Then search out this holiday offering from the great vocalist, who was featured in the recent documentary "20 Feet From Stardom."

"A Twisted Christmas," Twisted Sister (2010): A Christmas album that mom and dad will hate! If you dig this one, also check out the concert companion, "A Twisted Christmas: Live in Las Vegas."

"Not So Silent Christmas with REO Speedwagon" (2010): The band once made a fortune on pop-rock power ballads and feel-good anthems, so it's no surprise that REO is a natural fit for "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Winter Wonderland" and other seasonal fare.

"A Very She & Him Christmas," She & Him (2011): Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward provide a suitable soundtrack for a hipster holiday party.

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.