Looking back over our list through my rose-colored glasses, I’m reminded that it’s been another incredible year for South Carolina music. A list of albums where artists took chances, broke down boundaries, broke rules, wrote with emotion, and created albums for everyone to dive into and enjoy. Our top albums range from Michael Flynn’s masterful Face in the Cloud record which reaches into your soul and pulls out buried nostalgia and feelings like no indie electronic album has since The Postal Service, to the raw blues of The Mobros, and the powerful and catchy hardcore of Islander. The diversity in the South Carolina music scene is one of its strong suits, and the way these scenes mesh together help carry it forward onto the national scene. The Dunder Chiefs 2014 album Kicking Rocks celebrates its one year anniversary next week, an album that’s still going strong with tight harmonies and banjo picking that beats the hell out of cheesy folk. Narrowing this list down to 15 was no easy task as you might imagine. It changed orders many times and finally landed here, and we’re pretty happy with it.

This list includes Shovels and Rope’s new album which peaked at #20 on the Billboard top 200, Islander whose single “Coconut Dracula” peaked at #23 on the modern rock charts, and Tape Waves new album which seemed to have a better reception overseas than in its own home state. We knew the albums from Dear Blanca, Susto, Can’t Kids, and The Mobros were coming, and we knew they were going to be solid two-baggers, but even those surpassed expectations. It’s the ones that we didn’t see coming that made 2014 special. A touching album from Stefanie Santana, the warped structures and calculated creativity of ET Anderson, Milton Hall’s lo-fi jangle, and the all-star cast surrounding Jack Burg’s band Punks&Snakes kept South Carolina music lovers on the tips of their toes. I seriously slept so hard on that Punks&Snakes album and I was at the release show! Now all I want to do is listen to “Day after Day” and “Start to Worry” on repeat until I throw up the beauty of each song.

Trees on Mars set out with a plan to make the exact album they had in mind, and they did just that and flew by expectations. When we put this top albums list together one thing that stayed in mind was albums that created moments. Moments that catch your attention, make you feel something special or evoke an emotional response. Every single album on this list has moments like these, with some having more than others.

Cancellieri’s Welcome to Mt. Pleasant might not be number one on this list, but that is an album that will steal your heart and run away if you let it. Let it.

SceneSC’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

#1 Michael Flynn-Face in the Cloud


#2 Can’t Kids-Ennui Go


# 3 Susto-Susto


#4 Cancellieri-Welcome to Mt. Pleasant


#5 Shovels and Rope-Swimming Time


#6 Dear Blanca-Pobrecito


#7 Punks&Snakes-No Swagger


#8 Islander-Violence and Destruction


#9 ET AndersonEt Tu,_____?


#10 The Mobros-Walking with a Different Stride


#11 Trees on Mars-The Sapling


#12 The Dunder Chiefs-Kicking Rocks


#13 Stefanie Santana-I Admit I Am Glad


#14 Tape Waves-Let Go


#15 Milton Hall-Coat from Japan


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