2009 came with a great local soundtrack. I know: I reviewed dozens and that didn’t even make a dent in the number of local releases Asheville musicians put out. While my top eight (in no specific order) is only a small sampling of what’s available, this list does represent the albums I kept on replay. Got your own list? Add ‘em below.
• The Nova Echo, self-titled
Gorgeous, layered electro pop and hooky lyrics position The Nova Echo to be tapped for movie sound tracks, teen-drama TV shows and major fandom. Just my prediction.
• Floating Action, self-titled
2009’s offering by prolific multi-instrumentalist Seth Kauffman is the musician’s most fully realized to date. Lo-fi production, hints of MoTown and Caribe, instantly catchy refrains and dancable tunes make this a must-have disc.
• potpie vs. Krzysztof Appalachia
Former New Orleans electronica artist potpie relocated to Asheville and set about transcribing his new landscape into a series of sounds. Not songs in the strictest lyrical sense, the two (very long) tracks are highly inventive and inspiring soundscapes of Appalachian flavor and ambiance.
• The Honeycutters, Goodnight Irene
Old school country in the truest sense, Irene is free of twang and ten-gallon hats but full of real emotion, family history, quick wit and strong liquor.
• The If You Wannas, Island Diplomacy
Smarty, savvy rock with pop licks and garage-y, bombastic energy is what you get from The Ifs. This band knows what they do best and they deliver consistently. Island is new material but plays like a greatest hits collection.
• Night’s Bright Colors, Absinthe Twilight
Released online, as a free download, this collection by local artist Jason Smith is lush, moody and meandering. It’s also accessible, romantic and cozy as a fireplace on a frosty fall night.
• Truth & Salvage Co. self-titled EP
Though now based in L.A., members of Truth & Salvage Co. (who came through town last fall, opening for The Black Crowes) were once part of Asheville mainstay Scrappy Hamilton. Their four-song EP is super-produced country-tinged rock with nods to the 70s, California livin’ and faded blue jeans.
• Reigning Sound Love and Curses
At once modern and vintage, fresh and familiar, Reigning Sound‘s latest is another stellar work of soul-influed rock with plenty of raw edge.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter