Monday, December 13, 2010

The Bottom String's Top 10 North Carolina albums of 2010

The year of 2010 proved to be something great for the North Carolina music scene in more ways than one.  With the addition of the first annual Hopscotch Festival being held in Raleigh and Moogfest in Asheville, the scene had a chance to flourish like never before, and flourish it did.  This was mainly due in part to some of the awesome records that came out of North Carolina this year.  Highlighted by The Love Language, Lost in the Trees re-issue, a great full-length debut from Wild Wild Geese, and much more, the albums put out this year all stepped it up a notch.  So here is what The Bottom String thinks are the records from 2010 that YOU need to check out!

10) Residual Child
by Butterflies
Butterflies came out with their sophomore effort with “Residual Child” this year and completely changed it up.  The band has a much more mature sound that still finds a way you retain it’s youth through nostalgia inducing hooks sung out by Josh Kimbrough.  Ranging from songs about meeting up with old friends on a Sunday afternoon to the song about a girlfriend with a forklift, this album has a bit from both spectrums.  The album has a great pacing and really leaves you wondering where Butterflies is going to go with their next record, because this one definitely set a new bar for them.

9) Songs for Other People
by Filthybird
Filthybird’s sound is one of the most unique that I’ve come across this year because it’s so hard to explain the sound that they produce.  Their blend of Americana, psychedelic, and indie-pop combined with the excellent hooks written by Renee Mendoza provide for an amazing record.  Renee’s voice is one that just captures you right away and takes you on a rollercoaster ride throughout the album with twists and turns displayed by how versatile her voice truly is.  This versatility really applies to the entire band though, with tracks like “Pick Me Up” staying in your head all day while tracks like “Hiders” are a bit more of the sit back and take it all in type.  Whether you prefer one over the other it doesn’t matter because this album’s got everything.

8) Sorry, Earth
by Wild Wild Geese
Wild Wild Geese put out a stellar full length debut with Sorry, Earth, it’s an album that displays crunchy guitar riffs, catchy choruses, and just flat out great music.  Wild Wild Geese is comprised of members 
(and ex-members) of Americans in France, Spiderbags, Rongo Rongo, and Toddlers, and in this instance they all fit together perfectly.  Songs like “Stuck Inside” and “Art and War” show how Wild Wild Geese sort of take the typical 90’s indie rock route that the Triangle scene is so known for and add their own punk spin on it, giving it much more grit while not taking away from the poppy sounding choruses that they feature as well.  The thing that leaves me wondering though is where the band will go from here, because it’s certainly going to be hard to top such a great debut, but if anyone could do it it’s these guys.

7) Cassis Orange EP
by Cassis Orange
Cassis Orange is an act that I’d keep my eye on in 2011 if I were you because I’d be surprised if you don’t start hearing a lot about this band.  Autumn Ehinger writes brilliant hooks atop of infectious synth lines that leave you nodding your head or tapping your foot along by the end, although the lyrics don’t always reflect the same tone.  That’s part of what makes it so good though, the way songs like “Listen Heartbeat” can provide such poppy and happy sounding tones with such contrasting vocal themes.  Plus their live show is something that should be experienced by everyone.  No exceptions

6) Quiet Little Room
by Mandolin Orange
Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz are the two members of Mandolin Orange, and they have crafted an absolutely beautiful folk album with Quiet Little Room.  The way the two’s voices blend so perfectly together is almost magical, especially on songs like “One More Down” featuring Andrew on Mandolin and Emily on acoustic guitar.  There isn’t a single dull point on the album and each song has just as much ability to break your heart as the previous one. 

5) I Just Want To Make A Statement EP
by Junior Astronomers
Junior Astronomers put out their second EP with “I Just Want To Make A Statement”, and they did just that.  Junior Astronomers are based out of Charlotte, but the vocals of Terence Richard sound more like Kele of Bloc Party than anyone stateside.  However, that’s where the similarities end between the two bands because Junior Astronomers brings something new to the table with this EP.  All four of the songs all bring an energy that is unparalleled in most music but seemingly common with Junior Astronomers.  The EP leaves me with a great taste in my mouth and a wonder of what this band can pull out with a full length.

4) Storage
by Wesley Wolfe
Admittedly it took me a long time to finally check out this record, but once I saw Wesley Wolfe at Troika I knew I had to hear it.  “Storage” is a brilliantly put together record that is showcased by catchy songs with amazing lyrics.  Lyrics like, “While I turn myself to stone, please chip away all of the parts that need to go”, found in “Gone For Good” are common on the album in the sense that they provide for a relatable feeling, but don’t use the same old clichéd terms to say so.  Wesley Wolfe’s songwriting is superb in the sense that he can evoke emotions while still leaving his lyrics playing over and over in your head due to how catchy all of the hooks are.

3) Cut Loose
by The Tomahawks
The Tomahawks is the band of former Max Indian guitarist Nick Jaeger and plenty of other local artists, and their first full length “Cut Loose” is one that doesn’t disappoint.   “Cut Loose” is an album that brings ten tracks of laid-back 60’s sounding pop music infused with the lo-fi indie sounds of today in a brilliant way.  Jaeger’s vocals and the accompanying harmonies are definitely the highlights of the album though, adding much more depth and fullness to the sound.  The Tomahawks are another supergroup that live up to the title bestowed upon them, because if they stay on track then their name is one that you’ll be hearing everywhere very soon.

2) All Alone in An Empty House
by Lost in the Trees
While the original release on Trekky was brilliant in it’s own sense, Lost in the Trees’ re-release of “All Alone in An Empty House” on ANTI took an already beautiful record and made it even better than before.  Adding two tracks to the heart wrenching album, Lost in the Trees completely re-recorded the album, making this a must hear even for those who picked up the original release.  Ari’s vocals cut straight through you with his honest and heartfelt lyrics that leave you hanging on to his every word, anxiously waiting for the next refrain to break your heart once again.  Whether you were already a fan or are a newcomer to Lost in the Trees, this re-issue is a must have.

1) Libraries
by The Love Language
The Love Language’s debut self-titled album was recorded and written by Stuart McLamb and it picked up quite a bit of attention for the band.  However, the bands second release, “Libraries”, was recorded in a studio with the help of a producer, and this is the element that has allowed Stuart McLamb’s brilliance to shine through on “Libaries”.  The album opens up with “Pedals”, a song that immediately catches your attention and leaves you nodding your head or tapping your foot and by the end of the song you’re wanting to sing along to words you don’t even know yet.  The album continues in this fashion until the very last track, a feat that very few bands can achieve.  While McLamb’s lyrics may border on cliché every now and then, he adds enough of a spin to them to keep them interesting.  McLamb took what he had in the bands debut with a catchy lo-fi pop album and brought every aspect of it to a whole new level, adding much more depth and substance while still maintaining enough of the bands original sound. 


  1. Good list of groups among my favorites with the exception of Junior Astronomers, who I've not yet seen. -Some groups missing, but not sure I could limit to just ten myself.

  2. What about Onward, Soldiers out of Wilmington, NC? They should have been on here! Think about them for 2011!

  3. Where is the best place to look to purchase these albums? I haven't been able to find much online from Amazon or from iTunes.

  4. Here are the links to the ones that can't be found on Amazon:
    The Tomahawks
    Wild Wild Geese & Wesley Wolfe
    Junior Astronomers
    Mandolin Orange
    Cassis Orange