Now that the Free Times has published the overall, crowdsourced list of the top local releases in Columbia, SC for 2013, I can post my own list here complete with videos or song clips from the albums…(this may show up at www.free-times.com as well, along with other FT contributor lists).
1. Death of Paris, Gossip
There hasn’t been a major pop-sounding release from these parts as good as this since Haley Dreis left for greener musical pastures in Nashville; DOP are unashamedly mainstream and better than most in that position already.
2. Stagbriar, Quasi-Hymns, Murder Ballads and Tales of How the Hero Died
Youthful energy and family harmony collide in an acoustic-based explosion of sound and storytelling on this, the first full length recording from the brother-sister duo of Alex and Emily McCollum.
3. Dear Blanca, Talker
There’s a dirty blues aspect to the music of Dear Blanca that I love; Dylan Dickerson isn’t an aging roadhouse warrior, however, just a young whippersnapper with the heart and musical soul of someone much more weary than he could possibly be.
4. Ned & the Dirt, Giants
The big, broad, sweeping musical narrative here is befitting the album title, a giant step forward for Ned Durrett, who moved to Los Angeles shortly after this surprising set of songs was issued.
5. Magnetic Flowers, Old, Cold, Losing It
Idiosyncratic and esoteric, this long-awaited (by me, at least) release extended the indie-folk rock motif of the band into more psychedelic, off-kilter experimentation, with fascinating results.
6. Mathew Lee Cothran, Failure
Cothran issued more and longer releases under his other nom de plumes this year, Coma Cinema‘s Posthumous Release and Elvis Depressedly‘s Holo Pleasures, but I prefer the almost unfinished, pre-lacquer raw structure of this brief creation, which planes off his musical excesses without diminishing the emotional effect on the listener.
7. People Person, Dumb Supper
Jessica Oliver’s other band (besides her drumming and singing in Can’t Kids) finds her strapping on a guitar and offering up 60’s girl group style ditties masked by layers of musical fuzztones for a gooey, glammy, garagey confection that’s as sweet as it is addictive.
8. Todd Mathis & Whiskey Tango Revue, Please … Don’t Tread On Me
Put together one of Columbia’s more sarcastic and biting social commentary songwriters and a swinging, country leaning band and you get a fun diversion from both Todd Mathis and Whiskey Tango Revue.
9. Pan, Meta Major
It’s rare for instrumental rock to grab one’s attention for long, but the aural landscapes proffered by this group of sound painters are masterpieces of both melody and mayhem.
10. The Unawares, Absinthe Acres
The Ramones understood that real rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t need to progress much farther than Chuck Berry to do its job of providing release and recreation for the masses; The Unawares are a little more sophisticated in their garage-punk methods, but not so much so that they lose the attitude or their ideals.