Motormouth Mabel / Steve Hit Mike
"Drink and Drive"
This rowdy split-EP from local label Tick Tock features the unglamorous Motormouth Mabel and the aggressive Steve Hit Mike. It sounds as boozy and smart-assy as anything in the label's ever-expanding catalog. Motormouth Mabel handle the first three songs — a triple-smack of sloppy, fuzzed-out mayhem starting with the anxious and paranoid "Liquor Store Lurker," the comparatively epic "Why Won't That Girl," and the hilarious rant "County Fair" — a winner which should immediately be adopted by the Coastal Carolina Fair. In contrast buzzsaw guitars and punchy drums on Steve Hit Mike's shouty "Drink and Drive" and "Shit Bag Shuffle" are tighter, but lead singer Jeff Riddle still sounds as pissed-off as ever. (www.ticktockrecords.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann
Steve Hit Mike and Motormouth Mabel share the stage at Oasis Bar & Grill on Sat. Nov. 1.
Shovels & Rope
Shovels & Rope
Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent's thematic and rustic new album is sparse and open, with only the chink of a tambourine or the thump of an old bass drum keeping the beat, with a bit of banjo, mandolin, or saloon-stye piano tinkering in the background. Recorded in a home studio, they released it as a self-titled collection under the band name Shovels & Rope. The harmonica-peppered "Boxcar" happily mopes along with a lazy swing beat, a Bonnie & Clyde theme, and some of the highest-pitched notes in Hearst's pipes. Trent sings loud and soulful on the anthem "Magdelina." They sound like tipsy, hand-clappin' ghouls on their creepy, reverb-drenched rendition of the old Charlie Feathers composition "Can't Hardly Stand It." They trade verses on the upbeat and romantic banjo ditty "1200 Miles." The dynamic rockabilly/boogie tune "Hollowpoint" stands out as one of the most dynamic tunes. The melancholic waltz "Build Around Your Heart a Wall" might be the most impressively arranged, with strings, singing saw, and rich harmonies. (www.myspace.com/ cahearstandmichaeltrent) —T. Ballard Lesemann
Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent perform every Thursday at Art's Bar & Grill.
"Something to Say"
From singer Reid Johnson's opening wail of "One two three wha! yeaaa-aaah!" on the opening song "I'll Stop" through the chugging guitar riffs and pounding rhythms of "Nothing Special," Number One Contender stays on track on Closer, avoiding most of the grim heaviosity and clichés of the guitar-rock scene. Closer offers an off-center mix of loud/quiet, anguish/hope, and calm/convulsive rock. The title track is a surprisingly low-key rock ballad that may leave a few old fans baffled. "Fail Me" is more of a traditional alt-rock anthem — sort of a punk-turned-alternative hybrid rooted in the '90s underground. Despite a bit of over-singing and vibratos from Johnson, the dynamic arrangements, anthemic harmonies (and backing strings) hit the mark. (www.numberonecontender.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann
Number One Contender performs at the Local X Early-Belated Birthday Show at Halligan's on Sat. Nov. 22.
Doug Jones, Everybody, Doug Jones
"One Floor House"
Cravin' Melon frontman and recent Awendaw immigrant Doug Jones is keeping the '90s Carolina style alive, from the rolling, banjo-laden clap track of "Watcha Think Yer Doin?" to the shuffle and rock of "Kisses" and "X is Y." The gospel-tinged album varies between porch songs and modern country radio-ready jams — the heartfelt "One Floor House," (one that has "many stories") could easily be picked up by a Tim McGraw-type and be a Nashville hit. Jones himself may take it there. He's got the country formula nailed: write about love, loss, and having fun, make it straightforward, but give them something a bit deeper on a second listen. "If faith can hide my mixed emotions, when won't I be loved?" he asks on the closing track, a cello-strewn gospel yodeler, and a fitting end to a fine album. (www.myspace.com/dougjoneseverybodydougjones) —Stratton Lawrence
Doug Jones plays at the Keller Williams Annual Music Fest at the Bus Shed on Sat. Nov. 1.