From Trekky's mammoth Yuletide Orchestra to Hammer No More the Fingers' goofball take on They Might Be Giants' "Snowball in Hell," the tradition of local holiday rock has, well, snowballed. Remarkably, and thankfully, not much of it is overly sentimental.
It's appropriate to see Carrboro pranksters Shit Horse release a Christmas single. "Little Drummer Boy - the Christmasing"—available on Christmas Eve, and not a day sooner, via www.odessarecords.com—is a bizarrely addicting track from these garage-soul wild men. There's a distinct Summer of Love vibe and no detectable irony, resulting in a fantastic oddball of a holiday jingle. Guitarist Josh Lajoie crunches through the traditional melody with power chords but explodes with psychedelic frenzy on the chorus. The inimitable Danny Mason finds the middle ground between "Little Drummer Boy" and "I Put a Spell on You." "I would be your rum pa pum pum man," he howls, possibly for the first time ever.
Shit Horse, then, is simultaneously the contemporary of and heir apparent to on-again/ off-again Chapel Hill trio Evil Wiener. The equally impious—yet sillier—Evil Wiener Christmas EP came out in 1993, saw a CD reissue in 2008 through Thinking About the Needle and is now available online at thinkingabouttheneedle.com. This holiday offering has aged well because it doesn't seem to have aged at all. It's a mix of Ramones-referencing smartassery and troubadour jangle. A surveillance-happy, caffeine-wired Santa Claus shouts "ho ho/ happy birthday, Jesus Christ" in "All Around the World." Bickering roommates make peace over free food at someone else's party in the uplifting "Secret Santa." This all culminates in scorched earth, with the Wiener tearing into "God Rest Ye Three Kings" like a theremin-wielding Southern Culture on the Skids.
The Christmas pantheon does well with the addition of tricksters; let's hope the local tradition continues another 20 years.