The Sleigher: Lilys, “Good King Wenceslas”
HO HO WHO?: D.C.-rooted indie-pop shape-shifters Lilys, semifamous for sounding like The Kinks and soundtracking '90s commercials. This Christmas song has been bouncing around for years now, but it cropped up again on Highline Records' recent Festivus 2 compilation.
O CHRISTMAS TWEE: Usually an annoying twee tic, the doubled, slightly off-key vocals make perfect sense in the context of a hymn usually sung by elementary-school choirs. Founding frontman Kurt Heasley leaves the carol’s short phrases intact, allowing them to work their earworm magic. Layers of jangly guitars, melodic bass lines, and a tambourine (or maybe sleigh bells?) add some shoegaze charm.
I'LL BE DRONE FOR CHRISTMAS: Even the most dedicated carolers rarely sing all five stanzas of “Wenceslas.” Remember the verses that starts, "Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling?" Neither do I. But Heasley’s crisp Old English enunciation contrasts nicely with the tune's interstitial pulsing, psychedelic guitar.
CHEER FACTOR: 9/10. Perhaps all carols could be improved by adding atonal Moog solos.