by Paul Bowers
The music blog SceneSC released its annual music sampler today, and as usual, it's a quirky hodgepodge. You get some headscratchers and you get some gems, but most importantly, you get a flyover of South Carolina's indie rock and alt-folk music scenes. And hey, it's a free download. Give it a listen, and scroll down to read about the seven tracks that made us forget the gloomy weather:
• "Darkest Days" - Alexa Woodward (Greenville): Gosh, what a voice. Woodward sings with folksy confidence and a dash of whimsy over a simple banjo arpeggio and what sounds like bowed upright bass. Appalachian and meditative.
• "Elsewhere" - Heyrocco (Charleston): Catchiest song on the mixtape. This track is like the Strokes with a new lease on life, and vocalist Nathan Jake Merli's summer-jam-worthy vocals only sound better under the influence of producer Josh Kaler (you know, that guy from Slow Runner). Favorite lyrics: "I don't know what the harm is in staying for just one hour / I'll have you back before your family's heads get sour."
• "Ruins" - The Sea Wolf Mutiny (Columbia): Think Fleet Foxes, but filtered through the South. A plucky guitar lead, wispy vocals, and a snake-rattling tambourine take the Northwestern hippie heroes' ethos and give it a little twang, a little swing. "Oh, how impossible is love?" singer Bobby Hatfield warbles high and lonesome.
• "The Ballad of Edie and Darling" - Mountain Homes (Greenville): A less radio-perfect Mumford and Sons, with some impressive banjo plucking.
• "Black River Gospel" - Susto (Charleston): Interesting appropriation of scraps from folk and gospel tunes. If Woody Guthrie were alive today and had serious questions about Bible-Belt culture, he might write songs like this one.
• "Whiskey Bent" - Mel Washington (Charleston): After leaving All Get Out last year, Washington got busy making a solo record, Houses, and the lead single is earnest and muscular in a way that has been Washington's forte since his worship music days. Judging by the lyrics to this track, matters of the soul still lay heavy on Washington's mind, and he's picked up some grit from years of relentless touring.
• "Tom" - Stagbriar (Columbia): Leading off with a bluesy guitar stutter, Stagbriar follows up with a spoken-word narrative bit that shifts into male-female harmonies that would sound at home on a Fueled by Ramen emo-pop track. Eclectic, self-assured, and fun.