Saturday, December 31, 2011

SCNP's Top 15 Song in 2011

Counting them up and counting them down, the local squeeze box kept Raleigh Durham Chapel Hill in the comfortable style, pulling in and pushing out hits throughout 2011. Here is this blogger's summation of the best fifteen songs from this year's releases.

name 15. Only One of Me
Greg Humphreys
People You May Know

First I was to say thank you to Greg for this song...its a classic feel good tune. Tongue-in-cheek hilarity, wise cracking hipness, and solid pop sing-a-long goodness give us plans for a song which could have only been drafted my a master songwriter. Greg Humphreys is a local treasure and a few coins were stolen from the chest on this one.

name 14. Empty Bottle
Slingshot Cash
From Aftermath to Exile

I am a sucker for a song with deeply drawn imagery and with the sorrowed plight of the song's fallen protagonist now fully understood after the somber telling of the first line "hello empty bottle, I've missed you" ...we are left to enjoy the rollicking jangle of Slingshot Cash's country rock.

name 13. fight/flight
I Was Totally Destroying It
Preludes - Greyday Records

"fight/flight" is an epic which spans massive builds and monuments crashes, souring choruses and bottomed refrains and it defends a little more ground for the power pop I Was Totally Destroying It upon the predominately alt-country, indy rock local battle field.

name 12. Time Alone
Birds and Arrows
We're Gonna Run - 307 Knox

"Time Alone" is a full frequency face time with the lovable voice of Andrea Connoley. This recording features a few more sounds than we'll hear live...namely a feedback dialed electric guitar and a stretchy organ...for a studio version which amps the energy to match Andrea's shimmering vocals. Quality in the studio also gives the song's fit and finish a time capsule retroness with depth and intrigue.

name 11. Blue Moon
The Moaners
Nocturnal - Holidays for Quince

"Blue Moon" is a raspy fragile eeriness that showcased lead singer Melissa Swingle's most interesting talent; playing the saw. The song's gentle pushing and pulling rhythm is accentuated by the spooky haunting whisper of the saw and creates an other-worldly effect in which to become lost. Found on an album which could have been farmed for several best-of songs, "Blue Moon" is a run-away favorite of 2011.

name 10. The Road to Mocharabuiee
Sinful Savage Tigers
Last Night of the Revels

Songwriter Seth Martin has a witty pen and mind for beautiful metaphors, band mates Andrew Marlin and Seth Barden are ringers on the mando and upright. The Road relates the up's and down's of love in terms that are easy on the ears and interesting for the mind.

name 9. Pills
You Are Invisible

A band loved for their pretty songs sneaked in a blush worthy ep early this year and "Pills" was likely the track that spent the most time in front of the mirror. Boldly made up with the Wembley trademark harmonies and laced with Neven's art crafted guitar riffs, "Pills" gives us more reasons to stare.

name 8. A Day Without Fairies
Bitter Resolve
Bows and Arrows Against the Lightning

This song is rock purity. Starkly emotional and charged with the lung collapsing push of amp speakers being driven to limits and the primal scream of drums being beaten to death. Its built around the desire for rock to be drenched in its own loudness and the effect is honesty and truth channeled through a volume knob cranked to the right.

name 7. The Pony Express
All That The rain Promises - Ramseur Records

Bombadil came back in style in 2011 with a new release brimming with their quirky old fashioned pop goodness. "The Pony Express" is a story teller track that is so interestingly arranged that it hits the replay button very easily.

name 6. Jam Up and Jelly Tight
The Moaners / Jennyanykind Split7 - Holidays For Quince

This song represented a white-hot resurgence of one of Chapel Hill's most charismatic rock bands. Jennyanykind shared a hand in carving Chapel Hill into the greater independent rock map in the nineties and "Jam up and Jelly Tight" delivered one of the best hooks of the current decade. It's hip and confident rock and roll kept the summer moving strong.

name 5. Heartbreak, TX
Magnolia Collective
Ghost Stories

Magnolia Collective's most sincere effort to tell a love or lose story that would be felt in the heart by Americana strings and folk rock guitars turned out a country hit. "Heartbreak, TX" was found unassumingly in the middle of their debut EP but it quickly found its way to the top of my play list.

name 4. Come With Us
The Light Pines
Into The Night

Chilling and dramatic, enticing and suspensful. The Light Pines were pure granulated talent and "Come with Us" was the flame under the spoon. Watching it performed live was an intoxicating breath of beauty and deftness. Alas, after a half-decade long exercise in expectations, Josh Pope broke up The Light Pines and cancelled their headliner spot in The Independent's Hopscotch Music Festival, leaving and empty spot on the roster, and an empty spot in our hearts. "Come With Us" remains one of the best songs released this year.

name 3. I Would Say
The Huguenots
The Huguenots

The Hugueonots are another band break up story that broke hearts. Calling it quits shortly after the release of the self titled "The Huguenots" left us without a benefactor for the gorgeous "I Would Say" ...a timeless pop gem that was dipped in fun and rolled in summer.

name 2. This Goes On
Once and Future Kings
Dead Lions

OFK packages their 2011 album Dead Lions in ocastraic swells lifting front man Jess Henderson's falsettos to angelic heights. "This Goes On" provides the album's best example and does it in a memorable way. Light and poppy key strokes dazzel with poignant guitars and heart spoken poli-sci lyrics for a chest heavy anthem that rewards each listen with satisfying clarity.

name 1. Lament
Mount Moriah
Mount Moriah - Holidays for Quince

This high stakes loving and leaving tale replayed its way to the top of my list for the sheer draw of it's impossible harmonies and engrossing lyrics. In Lament, heather and jenks reason on a higher level with a lucid melody and elgant hooks to deliver an instant classic, and IMHO...the best song of the year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Magnolia Collective - Ghost Stories

Magnolia Collective Ghost Stories

If I were to describe the songs of Ghost Stories on a margin equal to how I listened to them it would read as if "Heartbreak, TX" is the only track on the album. From the moment of the first spin his song has played back and forth, up and down...and heard differently in each direction. The dark, heavy, and sublime melody is the song's first habit forming trip. It pulls and pushes, lets you fall and jerks you back up...a struggle that resolves only with an inevitable submission to the current. Drowning in it's thick and opaque textures may just be the first listen. Sink a few spins deeper and the mesmerizing grip of a hauntingly strummed banjo delicately weights the senses and hastens the fall. Weeks later you may, as I did, become enraptured with the song's provocatively visceral electric refrain that claws with emotion following a thorough vexing of the song's spirit stealing antagonist. Which ever element of this song is heard, Magnolia Collective is completely owning it. This is a Southern rock outfit expanded with a full accompaniment of Americana strings and they've pulled them all down from the wall to fix this song with surly smooth and tantalizingly moody textures.

No shortage of poets found in this seven person cast, every song is penned from a quill inked in the blood of a broken heart and the pages of their album bleed with the memories of lovers past. "Stolen Car" sets an early pace and coins the Magnolia Collective playing style as upbeat Americana rhythms, slinky C&W electric leads, and breezy harmonies. It also testifies for Magnolia Collective's urge to dive deep into the emotions of break-up's, make-up's, and fuck-up's. "Willow Tree" continues the knack for the deeply drawn plot with a sobering tale of the human condition as experienced by those who have loved and lost. MagCo hits stride for a big finish on "Owls" ...a charging waltz that swells and crashes on a grand scale. But I beg of you, don't let this be a six song EP, scratch for the seventh, there is a love song hidden within this album and you'll hear it if you dream steady.

You'll get this album with the eight-dollar ticket for Saturday night's EP release party at Local 506 in Chapel Hill, and Magnolia Collective will be in form for a raucous night of tight Southern rock. When you get to a disc player, go ahead and start on track four. That's "Heartbreak, Texas" and its not the only killer song on the album, but its the one that kills elegantly. --Carrboro Ninja

EP release party details:
Saturday 12/3 at Local 506 with The Moaners and Stag. $8 buy tickets on etix

Magnolia Collective Ghost Stories
Magnolia Collective Ghost Stories