Five Albums You Should Be Listening to Right Now: All North Carolina Edition
The finest new indie music from our favorite Southern state.
Each week, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Bryan Reed, contributing editor of the N.C.-based ShuffleMagazine, and a freelance contributor to Carolinas-based publications, including IndependentWeekly, and CharlotteViewpoint.org.
1. Mount Moriah, Mount Moriah
Mount Moriah is the sound of the New South. This is a band molded from classic rock, traditional country, and Protestant hymnals; their songs reflect both Southern pride and Southern shame. The album centers on frontwoman Heather McEntire coming to terms with a restrictive religious upbringing whose traditions could be beautiful and comforting, but whose doctrine excludes her. But as captivating and redemptive as her stories are, her musical partner, Jenks Miller, says just as much by twisting the twang of country-rock guitar leads into deliberate, sinewy melodies.
2. Phil Cook & His Feat, Hungry Mother Blues
For Phil Cook, there is no downtime. Between tours with his adventurous folk-rock band Megafaun, Cook recorded this first proper release with His Feat (actually his feet) at home in Durham, N.C., during a thunderstorm. With a soft kick drum keeping time, Cook casually explores Piedmont blues finger-picking, resonant slide-guitar, and nimbly woven knots of banjo. Megafaun's self-titled fourth album, due next month, is a decidedly more rock-focused affair than its predecessors, but fans of that band's front-porch twang will find a surplus in his unassuming solo vehicle.
Listen: "Ballad of a Hungry Mother"
3. Floating Action, Desert Etiquette
Like fellow lo-fi popsmiths Dr. Dog (labelmates) and The Love Language (fellow Tar Heels), Floating Action honors the traditional pop and rock influences: Beatles, Stones, Phil Spector, et al. But Floating Action doesn't stop there; the Asheville band draws from a much deeper well. Here the deep grooves and gospel influence of Stax soul bleed into Eastern-inspired psych rock and spaced-out dub. Floating Action might well be North Carolina's most underrated band.
Listen: "Eye of a Needle"
4. Last Year's Men, Sunny Down Snuff
Diving headlong into '50s rockabilly, '60s soul, and '90s garage rock proved fruitful for Last Year's Men, a scrappy upstart quartet with a teen-idol-on-speed sound. When the band debuted late last year with Sunny Down Snuff, its potential was immediately apparent. That hasn't made the band's rapid ascent any less exciting, though. 2011 finds the band touring through the East Coast and into the Midwest, releasing a split single with their idols, Reigning Sound, and gathering attention from cool-hunting corporate sponsors like Scion and Vitaminwater.
5. Horseback, The Invisible Mountain & The Gorgon Tongue
With Horseback, Jenks Miller (also of Mount Moriah) shows off his experimental-music bona fides. The double-disc Gorgon Tongue collects and reissues 2007's Impale Golden Horn and last year's Forbidden Planet, but neither quite trumps the achievement of 2010's The Invisible Mountain, which sets twangy, pensive melodies against dramatic post-rock grandiosity and abrasive black metal.