My Favorite Local Albums of 2009

I write about music from all over the place for publications and websites that are also all over the place, but I’ve had a particular fondness for the music of my own backyard here in South Carolina, and especially in Columbia. Here, then, are my favorite local releases of 2009:

My Favorite Local Albums 2009

Kenley Young, Standard Candle
Smooth, slick, and sparkling guitar pop.

Magnetic Flowers, What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk AboutA glorious mess of an album, like a train barely able to remain on the tracks.

Haley Dreis, Beautiful To Me
About as perfect a pop recording as any to have come out of Columbia.

American Gun, The Devil’s Right Hand
Mark this as the one where Todd Mathis’ twangier material shines the brightest and truly begins to define this band.

Zach Seibert and the Red Wagon, Learning To Drown
The year’s most pleasant surprise, a sweetly rendered, rough-hewn gem.

Justin Smith and the Folk-Hop Band, World Unknown
Less hop and more rock made this a local radio hit, with good reason.

Treadmill Trackstar, I Belong To Me
File under “Welcome return” and turn up the volume.

The Unawares, Pinkie Greene
Raw, unassuming, yet immediate and melodic.

Hannah Miller, Somewhere In Between
Columbia’s most mesmerizing vocal chords.

Danielle Howle, The Swamp Sessions
Stripped down to just her voice and guitar, Howle still delivers.

Various Artists, Christmas At Red Bank, Vol. 1
Perfect local-centric addition to the holiday music mix, with some great takes on classic carols.

Unaware of the Unawares?

Even on a local level there are more bands out there than time to see them, so getting out to the upcoming Free Times Music Crawl this Saturday night ought to be on everyone’s calendar. While you’re there, make sure that one group you check out is The Unawares.

Together since 2006, The Unawares play a spastic version of garage rock that’s closer to the Minutemen or the No Wave bands of NYC like James Chance and the Contortions than anything else I’ve heard lately. Pinkie Greene, issued early this year, is the band’s third CD in less than three years–all of them recorded on the cheap and quick model that sometimes produces the best results, especially for the kind of down-and-dirty rock of the Unawares.

Here’s a live clip from February that’ll give you a pretty good idea of the scuzzed-up, cranked-up fervor that this not-so-minimalist trio can bring to a live set. For more, check out