- Fratmouth – WARM JEFFREY
During a set at Art Bar, the pseudonymed singer of the band smashed a TV, ate ramen, and got into a spastic tongue lashing with the band’s drummer. That pretty much surmises the sound of this record—manic slashing on mistreated instruments complete with the wailing screams of an abused ADD kid. It’s slacker rock that cares too much to not care. There’s simply nothing else like Fratmouth in the state.
- Brian Robert – 1117 Magnolia
Brian Robert wrote some excellent alt country Americana for this record. The solid songwriting is at the base of what are some hardy studio players that are as skilled as they are layered. This record definitely embodies the potential of a singer songwriter. It sounds like it could have been made in a Nashville studio with the most tasteful session cats in town.
- Marshall Brown – Second Childhood
This is a psychedelic pop-rock album that stands firm in the late 60s and early 70s. But it maintains a timely prevalence. It’s got some of the best harmonizing that’s come SC way. With all that come some garage rock bones. The fuzz bass on the opening track simply kills it while the guitars, keys, and melodic singing worm through your ears. The whole album slithers into your brain, putting you into a color swirling trance. At the end of it, you feel like you’ve taken a float down the river synesthesia.
- Motel Glory – Vagrant Hour
I’ve always wonder what The Clash might have sounded like if they were from the South. What Motel Glory has created could be Joe Strummer and co’s first record if they were born into a Southern coincidence of geography. Just listen to the lead playing and tell me it’s not the sort of impulsive frenetic playing of Mick Jones combined with the twang of the region. Clash influence aside, what strikes me the most about this record is one specific quality. It’s damn honest. It’s a simple, damn honest record.
- ET Anderson – ET2
This record sounds and feels like a culmination of the music that ET Anderson mastermind, Tyler Morris, has been trying to make for years–time spent with Calculator and Octopus Jones and other projects that came before. The record constitutes an evolution of the soft loud format of post-punk and respect for Morris tracking it all like an indie rock Prince. But below the surface of all the masterful song crafting there’s a lot of aching. Morris putting that ache onto tape is what makes this record great.
- wounded tongue – Our Children’s Throats
If SC has a musical export behind Hootie and chillwave its nuclear hardcore punk rock, especially that which claims Kevin Byrd on guitar. wounded tongue lives up to that legacy, adding the most metal to the mix there’s ever been. This is some muscular stuff. But that doesn’t get at the heart of what puts this record in my top ten. The music wounded tongue has made is pure dark, hearted violence instilled with years of intellectualized, dive bar and basement crust. And holy hell, the aggressive yet tasteful musicianship gets your brain going towards implosion.
- fk mt – fertilizer
“Steady like a train, sharp like a razor—” the description of Johnny Cash’s sound given by June Carter’s character in Walk the Line. I want to thank fk mt for bringing the man in black’s beat to Columbia and putting it into punk rock clothes. Going through headphones, the weighty simplicity of this EP, filled with overdrive, volume, and heavy rhythm, can capture your head into a vice of punk rock tunefulness. Ryan Morris’ singing is something to be envied, a more crackling Cobain. And the lyrics, they bleed all over the sandpaper coat that this record wears.
- WVRM – S//T
2 songs, one 5 minutes, the other 1 minute. Every bit of grindcore metal awesomeness you could want in 360 seconds.
- Pine Tar Rage – 3 song EP
The power of some crunching chords and a tempoed beat—it’s the Ramones of the Upstate add some thick fingered lead work. You can’t deny the rockin’ Uncle Tupelo like Americana that’s in there but Farrar and Tweedy’s efforts with a more slanted smile. The live energy of a garage rock, beer filled barn burner is all over this set of three recordings. “Honey you are a wildfire burning out of control and I’m digging pylons all around my heart soul,” the singer drawls out. “And all I wanna do is burn with you.” Out of tune guitars, off beat—It ain’t pretty but it’s perfect as is.
- SUSTO – Live from the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame
A live record is where an artist can demonstrate their mettle. Justin Osborne proves his worth as a singer songwriter on this stripped down version of SUSTO’s debut album. Recorded in a wooden shack of a rental down on Line Street in Charleston, this set of tunes gives you that warm sense of being at a small house show in your hometown music scene. It’s got some recording enhancements but its heart is true. This is good late night listening. Mix some bourbon and coke, lay back and let it spin.
- Stefanie Santana – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels single
If there was more of Santana with this sound collected onto tape it would have been higher on the list. Another if—if I had the chance to get all the life back that I spent listening to this one song under the condition that I could never hear the tune again, I wouldn’t do it. The simple uke chords and her charming voice—it’s irresistible. Who hasn’t heard Harlan Howard’s quote about country—that it “isn’t nothing but three chords and the truth.” Stefanie Santana lets us know what that sounds like in this number.