25 Best Albums of 2017: Charleston Edition
Everyone who’s even remotely tuned in to the music scene in Charleston knows that 2017 was a huge year for this city. There were tons of great new bands, huge news from the veteran acts, and great shows every weekend. Sometimes it was hard to decide which shows to attend, because going to see one band would mean missing another on the other side of town. That’s a good problem to have, though.
2017 was also a big year for Extra Chill, and I want to take a quick moment to thank everyone who spent any amount of time on this blog over the past year, and an even bigger thanks to anyone who’s shared a link to this site anywhere on social media. I’m not planning on quitting any time soon, so you can expect a lot more from Extra Chill in 2018. I have some cool stuff in the works that I can’t wait to share with you.
Without further ado, here are the best albums to come out of Charleston in 2017. I’ve written about a lot of these bands and albums in the past, so click the links if you want to read more.
25. Dylan Swinson – Prove ’em Wrong Kid
Dylan Swinson proves that pop-punk isn’t dead with his 2017 EP Prove ’em Wrong Kid. I know your copy of Put Up or Shut Up is still lying around your parents house somewhere. That’s the vein that Dylan hits with this EP, and he’s been in the studio a lot recently working on even more new tunes to satisfy your pop-punk cravings.
24. Glitter Critters – Caterpillar
From the bedroom of Orange Doors’ Ian Russell comes his solo side project Glitter Critters and the debut EP Caterpillar. This was a Halloween release filled with trippy lo-fi indie pop. This EP was recorded in a dark room, and in my opinion that’s also where it sounds the best.
23. Butterfly – Baby Heartbreak
Butterfly is a promising young garage rock band that got their start in mid-2017. Their debut EP Baby Heartbreak was a fairly low-key release that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s straightforward guitar-driven rock music, which is something I can always appreciate.
22. Emily Curtis – Hindsight EP
Combining late 90s/early 2000s pop influences with that of modern country music, Emily Curtis has found her niche with the new Hindsight EP. Emily has a great voice and a lot of soul, and Hindsight does an excellent job showcasing that.
21. Wildisiak – Planet Funk
If you stole an iPod from someone in Wildisiak, I can guarantee you’d find a lot of Chili Peppers songs. I know, because I’ve done it. Hey Keith, if you want your iPod back just Venmo me like ten bucks. By the way, I blew out your headphones listening to Californication.
20. Kidd Aggie – Self-Titled
Since the release of his self-titled debut EP, Logan Aggeles has since decided to stop using the moniker Kidd Aggie and instead record under his real name. That doesn’t change the fact that Kidd Aggie was one of the most laid-back EPs to come out of Charleston in 2017. These songs fit in perfectly with the vibe in our beautiful city. Listen to this one outside on a sunny day.
19. Terraphonics – Tarab
Terraphonics is a gem in the Charleston music scene. They have a semi-rotating cast of talented musicians who come together to create awesome music. Sometimes they’ll just get up on a stage and jam, other times they head into the studio to experiment and record. Tarab was one of the times when they documented their experimental style. It’s super unique and spans a wide range of different genres.
18. Beach Sex – Self Titled
In early 2017, Beach Sex formed as an anonymous surf rock band that wore ski masks at all their shows. Near the start of the summer, they took off the ski masks and revealed their identities, and though it wasn’t such a well-kept secret to begin with, everyone found out that DJ Edwards, founder of Real South Records and co-host of The Fringe, was the guy playing drums. DJ cites Wavves as one of the main influences for the band’s sound. Their self-titled EP was released in August.
17. Florida Man – Self-Titled
Don’t let the name fool you, Florida Man is actually a Charleston band, and they play super loud hardcore music. They formed and released their debut album in 2017, and they’ve been touring up and down the East Coast ever since. I’d say that’s a pretty good start.
16. DUMB Doctors – SUX EP
For lo-fi punk rock in the Holy City, look no further than DUMB Doctors. Scott Dence crafts these songs in his basement studio. Sometimes he brings in the rest of his band to record with him, but mostly he sets up a 4 track and gets to work piecing the songs together one instrument at a time, and he keeps getting better at it. The songs on SUX are gritty and everything blends together, but that’s what makes them special. Play at maximum volume for full effect.
15. Tyler Boone – WSBF Live Sessions
None of the tracks Tyler Boone played with WSBF Live Sessions are necessarily new, but this live from the studio album really showcases the man’s skills on guitar. Tyler can shred, and the WSBF Radio peeps made it sound great. If you’re in the mood for some guitar heavy rock n roll, throw on Tyler Boone’s WSBF Live Sessions.
14. Jump Castle Riot – Glitter and Gold
When you hear about a band with two middle schoolers, a college student, and an English professor, you probably wouldn’t expect them to be as good as Jump Castle Riot. Then you throw on Glitter and Gold, and you’re like, “Wait, this is the band you were just telling me about?”. Jump Castle Riot kicks ass, and their debut EP Glitter and Gold proves it.
13. Young Mister – Soft Rock
Okay, so Steven Fiore aka Young Mister doesn’t technically live in Charleston anymore, but that doesn’t make him any less of a Charleston artist. His newest EP, Soft Rock is stripped-down indie rock with a heavy dose of introspective lyrics. This one is perfect for those quiet late nights when you feel like taking a walk through the labyrinths of your mind.
12. Mr. Rosewater – Who Is Mr. Rosewater?
Mr. Rosewater is a Makeout Reef band who got their start playing house shows and moved along to venues like The Royal American and Redux. Their debut EP Who is Mr. Rosewater? was a long time coming and was finally released in 2017, and I have to say it was well worth the wait. The songs are written by Patrick Tobias and Ross Teder who also have several side projects going around town that are all worth checking out. Mr. Rosewater is rock that incorporates a trumpet and doesn’t hesitate to get loud, and I’m looking forward to what they’ve got planned for 2018, if anything.
11. Bizness Suit – Grey Sky Blues
With the release of Grey Sky Blues, Bizness Suit brought classic rock to 2017. This is an album that I listened to a lot during the weeks following its release, especially when I was driving to work. It’s just one of those albums that helps you mentally prepare for a long day on the job. The lead single “Rock N’ Rolla” features Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top on guitar, but my personal favorite is “Letters and String”.
10. Dakota O – Recluse EP
Dakota O came out of nowhere with the release of their debut Recluse EP. Its ambient rock sound really resonated with a lot of people, and those people spread that newborn Bandcamp link all over social media. This is a record I like to spin late at night, when most of the world is asleep and I’m sipping another steaming cup of coffee because I’m not ready to call it quits anytime soon. They’ve got another one in the works, too, and with the further honing of their DIY recording skills, I’m betting it will sound even better.
9. The Dumbest Kids in School – This is Your Fault
Ah, The Dumbest Kids in School. These are the guys shooting spitballs at the chalkboard, stealing the teacher’s pens, and falling asleep in the back of the classroom, having dreams about becoming rock stars. After school they gathered in a back alley to write songs, with what little literacy they had, and after a years worth of suffering grades they popped out one of the best rock albums to bless Charleston in 2017.
8. Little Stranger – Techniques
With the May release of their Techniques EP, Little Stranger prepared us for a chill ass summer. This alternative hip-hop duo features John Shields and Kevin Shields, or as they like to say two “brothers from another mother”. Little Stranger has been on tour a whole lot in 2017, supporting acts like Stop Light Observations and The Movement on several dates. Techniques is fun and lighthearted, and has helped Little Stranger earn their spot in the top tier of Charleston musicians.
7. Contour – Softer
Contour is making the type of music that absolutely nobody else in Charleston is making right now. The sound is pretty experimental, which makes it tough to slot it into a genre, but that’s part of what makes it so awesome. Softer came straight from the mind of Khari Lucas, a guy who moves on his own wavelength. Contour comes from that wavelength, and it has hit a nerve with a lot of people around town.
6. SondorBlue – You Will Find Love on Ashley Avenue
The October release of SondorBlue’s sophomore EP You Will Find Love on Ashley Avenue showed them reaching a new maturity in their sound, moving from the crooning ballads of Realometer toward a sound that has deeper roots in rock n roll. With this shift in sound, though, they didn’t lose sight of the vocal harmonies that so many people appreciate them for. They simply spiced it up a bit with some heavier instrumentation. What resulted was a strong sophomore EP that manages to top their already strong debut.
5. The Artisanals – Literally, Anywhere
Literally, Anywhere is a good way to describe where you might find The Artisanals at any given time. Between rolling doobies in legalized states (only legalized states?) and rocking out on tour with Band of Horses and others, this 70s reincarnate will fill you with nostalgia for a time that probably happened long before you were born. Lately they’ve been almost constantly on tour in support of this sepia-toned EP, spreading positive vibes from coast to coast and picking up plenty of new fans along the way. Their full-length debut is rumored to be coming soon.
4. See Water – Hit The Moon
If I had to pick one word to describe Hit The Moon it would be “beer”. See Water’s debut album combines elements of reggae, ska, punk, and funk to create one of the most entertaining listens of 2017. The energy in their live sets brings that up about ten notches, and with their constant touring all over the Southeast, it’s clear that Charleston isn’t the only town that’s noticed. Once upon a time they passed around a funnel at their shows, but somebody broke it in a mosh pit. Buy merch so they can afford a new one.
3. Secret Guest – Dry Jest
I’ve said it many times and I will continue to say it: Secret Guest is a real jam band. It’s only a matter of time before The Hard Times reports that Serf Stevens was conceived and born during one single epic rendition of “Hiddenite”. Their concerts are hippie-friendly shred fests that send you a golden invitation to lay down in the grass and close your eyes, man, and just listen to the sweet, nectary jams. Just kidding. Go get drunk and see them play at Royal sometime. It’ll be fun.
2. 2 Slices – Best Believe
The ‘2’ earns their rightful place in the number two spot on this list with the release of their full-length debut Best Believe. Since their formation last year, they have quickly made a reputation for themselves by putting on some of the most entertaining performances I’ve ever seen. Even people who “don’t dance” will probably be dancing when 2 Slices gets going. With Best Believe, you can bring that energy anywhere. It’s a damn good party album.
1. SUSTO – & I’m Fine Today
I couldn’t not put SUSTO at the top of this list. With the January release of their sophomore album & I’m Fine Today, they skyrocketed onto the radar of music lovers well outside the ‘county line’. They’ve been touring pretty much non-stop since January, including Justin’s solo tour in Europe to support Band of Horses. SUSTO is the real deal, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing even more from them in 2018. Word on the street is they’ve been playing new songs at recent gigs, too.