Here’s my list of songs that any denizen of the Columbia, SC music scene over the past twenty or so years ought to at least have heard once or twice. This was my part of the process that brought this week’s cover story in the Columbia Free Times (click here for the official mixtape list and clips of most of the songs)
Columbia Iconic Song List
Treadmill Trackstar, Shouldn’t I Take–One of a handful of songs on this list that receieved significant airplay on local commercial radio, this was their “hit.”
Bedlam Hour, Grey Sweater–The self proclaimed “Gods of Rock ‘n’ Roll Power,” Chuck Walker was also a pretty good songwriter, at least of punk anthems like this one about falling for a straightedge chick—“positive future in the grey sweater…”
Hootie, Hold My Hand – on this list for the sheer impact of the band’s success. Plus, it’s a simple, catchy tune that has stood up relatively well now that I don’t hear it ten times a day.
Glass Bead Game, Krishnamurti’s House—this quasipsychedelic pop band never released a proper album, but this song off of a demo recording is good enough that I can sing you the chorus now even though I probably haven’t heard it in fifteen years.
The Spell, She Doesn’t Care—Was Nick Pagan Columbia’s original punk goth rocker? I’ll leave that argument to those who were there, I just remember this snarling, stellar garage-rock song.
Lay Quiet Awhile(Greg Broom Version), Drowning But OK—Combine pretentious poetry and a punk-raised pair of brothers, you get art-rock with an edge.
Lay Quiet Awhile (Danielle Howle version) Time Won’t Help—Hard to pick one song from the Danielle years of this band, this one’s been covered by other bands so it wins.
Danielle Howle, Sitting On A Big Front Porch—The Tantrums recorded an electric version, but I’m still partial to the original bare-bones acoustic take which marked the first officially released recording of Ms. Howle.
Danielle Howle and the Tantrums, She Has a Past—The only time this band got some radio airplay, and it was with the odd time signature of this vaguely Eastern-sounding riff.
Don Bravado, More to Life—A classic slab of sing-along pop-punk from veteran local punk rocker John Sease, his finest song.
Ultraviolets, Annabel Lee—Brent Lundy’s been through more band incarnations than coeds, but he’s written some great songs along the way.
Sourwood Honey, All My Relations—One of the classics from the first full length put out by this band featuring the late Chris Conner.
Blightobody, Party Snout—Seeing the band perform this live on Conan O’ Brien’s show has to rank among the more surreal local music moments of all time.
Crossfade, Cold—or, How To Make a Platinum Album in Your Garage. Great, great song that took a long time to hit but when it did, it hit hard.
Jebel, SCUD—Quirky doesn’t even begin to describe the off-kilter rock of this much-missed band.
Rear Window, Father Tried—The best local replication of the country-pop Hootie vibe, whether that’s what they were going for or not.
Bachelors of Art, Love is Dead—Another band that could have multiple songs on this list, this was from the later, more metal-sounding CD of the same name—the one and only release on the Manifest record label, by the way.
Glam Dogs, Nowhere to Run—Ray Jicha channeled his demons better with later groups like New Jack Rubies, but the unhinged glam rock of this song and its obscene chorus make it his most rock ‘n’ roll moment.
Douglas Chay, I Like Vegetables—Odd, this Chay fellow. Like Daniel Johnston, another largely unsung musical savant, Chay makes the mundane melodic.
Magnetic Flowers, Mark Pyritz Goes to Mexico—The sheer abandon with which this band plays, especially on this road trip anthem, is inspiring.
Benedict College Choir, Say The Word—As good as any mainstream mass choir, this was recorded on the tail end of the choir being named tops in the country two years in a row.
American Gun, American Gun—The theme song from Columbia’s best alt-country band.
Drew Bunting, Deaner and the Schwinn—A personal favorite from a guy who went on to work for the Episcopal Church, part of this was used as a commercial for a local bike shop.
Capital, Luckiest Man in the World—Best hit song from a local band that never became a hit song.
Captain Easy, Love in a Gun—not only did this band produce both Josh Roberts and Ryan Monroe, it also gave us left-field pop gems like this.
Crash Cadillac, We Are the Gamecocks—Best Carolina song ever.
Daylight Hours, Only one Juliet—Sentimental favorite from the ex-courage Riley frontman’s excellent solo disc.
Dead Agent Caper, Goodfriend—Before the Thirsties, there was this band, and this hooky cross between R.E.M. and the Police.
F 13 louder, faster, harder shorter—The title says it all, doesn’t it?
Hickry Hawkins, The NRA Took My Cousin Away—combining country and punk never sounded so redneck, or so right.
The Headnecks, Cornbread Rolls or Mixed—included for its tribute to local institution Lizard’s Thicket.
Midnight Society, Tears of a Woman—Ernie Franks was known as a pretty slick guitarist with this band, but with this soulful pop tune he showed some songwriting chops, too.
Isabelles Gift, Mosquito Machine—Another band where it’s hard to pick one song, this one has the band’s trademark combination of headsplitting riffs alongside a nearly pop hook.
Love Apple, Winnie—Weezer clones? Maybe, but Rivers never wrote a song as cool as this one, about the girl in the Wonder Years TV show.
Psychotoy, Fish Bottle Eye—For a brief time one of Columbia’s most popular bands, this was typical of Dale Simmons’ combination of psychedelia and hard rock.
Nylon Mustang, Nashville Girl—I know nothing about this band, but WUSC had a copy of this early cowpunk song which I played numerous times.
Silers Bald, Got Me Smiling–one of the biggest bands in Columbia for a few years, and they were a Christian pop-rock band.