With over 200 releases to choose from, we consumed a large amount of music again this year and narrowed down our top albums and EPs out of South Carolina in 2017. The early part of the year was filled with great releases, including our top two albums and that momentum never seemed to slow. The South Carolina music scene continued to surprise, with eight of the 20 releases listed here being debuts.
With such a variety of music coming out of the state, coverage of the music scene is in a great place. Podcasts like The Fringe and The Hoodoo Music Podcast continue to expose fans to new music, while Charleston Scene, Free Times, Charleston City Paper, and Greenville Journal to name a few keep their finger on the pulse of news.
Listen below to our top releases and hopefully discover something new.
#1 Susto & I’m Fine Today
From the opening notes of Susto’s sophomore release & I’m Fine Today it was clear that the band had taken a step forward in the development of their sound. With an established lineup for the first time going into the recording process, Susto became a band on this album and more than just Justin Osborne’s backing musicians. It’s evident on each and every song, but shines brightest on the albums hook laden closing track “Jah Werx”. A song that started from Johnny Delaware riffing jokingly on the idea of God eventually lead to “Jah Werx”, a hopeful song about community and the cyclical nature of life and enjoying the time we have here. Something we all needed to be reminded of in 2017.
#2 Infinitikiss Productive Leisure
Nic Jenkins is one of South Carolina’s most gifted artists and collaborators, and on the first day of 2017 he dropped Productive Leisure, one of his finest albums. This album was all Jenkins, who wrote, produced, performed, and recorded the entire album. The only thing he didn’t do was the artwork, which was done by Savannah Taylor, who captured the essence of the album.
#3 2 Slices Best Believe
2 Slices is one of a kind. Fronted by former Octopus Jones frontman Danny Martin, 2 Slices gives Martin the freedom to experiment musically and performance wise. Joined by DJ Lazercat, 2 Slices delves into psych-pop, often opting for auto-tuned vocals existing completely unafraid of stereotypes. Don’t dig it? Track nine is for you.
#4 Boo Hag The Further
Voodoo garage rock duo Boo Hag hit on something special with their summer release The Further. It’s a maddening listen, full of short blasting songs with colorful lyrical imagery, screamed, howled, and yelped over gritty guitar and driving drums.
#5 Contour Softer
One of Charleston’s fastest rising artists and producers, Khari Lucas accompanied this release with a short film which he co-directed. These six tracks flow slow and steady, with Lucas constantly looking inward creating a sound all his own.
#6 King Vulture s/t
King Vulture’s debut is an all around complete album expanding far beyond our first introduction to the band as a two piece acoustic duo filmed live at Papa Jazz. Kate Pyritz voice takes the forefront throughout as the album ebbs and flows from track to track, from buoyant, to quiet and affective, to epic and funky. Those descriptors are all over the place, but that’s just the tip of what you hear on this masterful debut.
#7 Daddy’s Beemer
Daddy’s Beemer grew up as a band in 2017 and while this EP is really good, they’re only getting better as is shown by their song “Joan” released in November. “TV Lied to Me” and “Raindance” will forever be synonymous with the Pablo Generation and 2017, their breakout year.
#8 Trees on Mars Hello, Mr. Pioneer
Hello, Mr. Pioneer is Trees on Mars most cohesive album yet, traversing new sounds while creating emotive soundscapes as they’ve always done. The album’s full of surprises, at times epic and energetic, and at others more slow, steady and controlled. The saxophone on “Michigan Monsoon” is most unexpected and welcoming, fitting in perfectly with the overall finesse of the album.
#9 Quality Time Boston Pizzeria
Featuring three members of Tom Angst, Quality Time are now more of a part-time band. This album flew under the radar when it came out earlier this year before the Pablo Generation bands started to gain steam. When I first heard it I thought I found our local Modern Baseball, a compliment to Quality Time and these songs in every sense of the comparison.
#10 Those Lavender Whales-My Bones Are Singing
Those Lavender Whales frontman Aaron Graves started writing and working on what would turn out to be My Bones are Singing three years ago, before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. That sits in the back of your mind while you listen to these songs, as Graves optimistically writes about life and ponders both small and large questions in it.
#1 Tom Angst s/t
In a year where indie female fronted bands hit a high mark, Tom Angst swooped into the South Carolina music scene and became the best surprise act of the year. Tom Angst deserves nothing but to be mentioned alongside acts like Frankie Cosmos, Snail Mail, Girlpool, and the Crutchfield sisters, acts who were recognized on a bigger platform when the New York Times shined a spotlight on those artists.
#2 The Artisanals Literally Anywhere
I was shocked to hear Johnny Delaware left Susto to start his own project last winter, but now with some hindsight he knew what he was doing. He was an integral part of that band, so there was never any doubt given his history as a songwriter and musician that he would succeed. And while they still have a lot of work to do, their time on the road playing high-profile shows performing songs off this excellent EP should payoff big in 2018.
#3 Secret Guest- Dry Jest
Secret Guest hit slacker rock gold with their latest EP Dry Jest, four songs that do their best to capture the energy of their live show. That’s close to impossible, their live shows are unpredictable to say the least, but the production of this release does well to capture their grit and energy.
#4 Florida Man Florida Man
Florida Man’s self titled debut came out swinging with seven fervent songs that don’t let up. The intensity of this album was matched by their live show, with vocals and guitar that sear and a rhythm section that pounds.
#5 E.Z Shakes E.P.
Midlands songwriter Zach Seibert now performs under the moniker EZ Shakes, and with the new moniker came a new EP. It’s stripped down to mostly just Seibert and his guitar and in it’s bareness it feels completely whole with each creak and each tap of his foot heard on the recording.
#6 Alarm Drum Culture Crush
Alarm Drum continue to grow and explore new musical territory on culture crush delving into more pysch electronic sounds at times and at other times grooving more than ever. It’s still based in indie rock, but judging from the progression of their last two EPs until now, they’ll only test the experimental waters more. They’re like Columbia’s Radiohead.
#7 Beach Bug I Quit//The Nest
I don’t know if these two Beach Bug EPs will ever be heard again. They’re no longer online as of the new year, but that doesn’t change the fact that they deserve a spot on this list as Mike Robbins struck gold baring his soul lyrically on these two albums. He’s at his best offering up raw and emotional lyrics and performing them live, whether he be screaming it from the gut or singing low and soft.
#8 Vacation State Tree
Rock 93.5 fans would rejoice if this was on the Top 5 at 5 in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Members of Ivadell joined by Hamp Dodd on vocals channeled an era to a T with these three songs which are better than the majority of what their influencers wrote.
#9 Treadmill Trackstar Everything Turned Out Alright
Treadmill Trackstar’s final release shows a white flag on the cover, but it was a content surrender. They had a great run covering three eras of the South Carolina music scene. They did the major label thing, they did the touring thing, they did the Kickstarter thing before it was the Kickstarter thing, they kept finding ways to get their music out to the world. Their final EP doesn’t take a step back, but it does peacefully close a door on a nice long run.