Featured Listens is a periodic column highlighting the latest in local music and other songs that are available for your listening pleasure. Whether it's the local and regional artists or just some of our favorite tunes from across the Web, this column represents the best of what's play for us this week:
1. Stella by Starlight "The Leak"
Since being turned onto Stella by Starlight by founding member Nathan Fowler (a Myrtle Beach native) last May, the high-energy electro pop produced by this band has become amongst my favorite "discoveries" since starting ListenUp.
With music influenced by classic acts like The Beatles and Elton John, built upon modern sounds such as MGMT and The Killers and steeped in a pot full of hot Top 40 dance pop tracks, Stella by Starlight has a uniquely infectous sound that I can't seem to get out of my head.
Released this week, "The Leak" continues the group's trajectory of increasingly danceable tunes, starting with the synth-infused title track. Songs such as "What Do You Plead," "Can I Take You Home" and "The Middle School Dance Song" all keep the hips moving with solid production and display various levels of Fowler's quirky, lyricism and monotone delivery.
Others such as "Better Living Through Chemistry," "American Chavalier" and "Life Lessons" take a more subdued approach, without losing any of the sex-and-drug-themed songwriting that makes Stella by Starlight a blast to listen to.
Overall, I'm not sure "The Leak" lives up to Stella's ambitiously-crafted 2009 debut "Room For Chelsea," but considering how much I've fallen in love with that album, I suppose few things would. It's still an undeniably fun and interesting record that should continue to build the buzz for the L.A.-dwelling Fowler.
2. Darling Waste "Good Bad and Angels"
Having made his name playing a blend of emotionally-charged, acoustic and piano driven indie rock all over the U.S. and the U.K. over the past decade-plus, Darling Waste frontman Lance Waste (ne' Williams) has landed in Myrtle Beach after calling Cleveland and Brooklyn home in the past.
Together with his primary musical partner Justin Lustig, Waste has helmed a rotating lineup of musicians which make up Darling Waste over the years, releasing five full lenght albums and a number of EPs and demos.
The latest, "Good And Bad Angels" was released in March 2011 on Indie Label Big Buzz Records in the U.K. and self-released through Reverbnation domestically. The album, which just released to iTunes and Spotify recently, is a 13-song display of emotional honesty that for the most past comes off without feeling overly moody or ominous.
The album features a variety of sounds ranging from downtempo piano ballads to more upbeat rock numbers tied together by Waste's raw, introspective songwriting.
Standout tracks include a pleading powerpop number "Please Lie To Me," the mandolin-tinged homesickness anthem "Angels (Brought You To Me)" and the piano-driven "Inhale/Exhale," on which Waste channels his inner Adam Duritz of Counting Crows with painfully longing vocals.
Go check it out on iTunes or Spotify and be on the lookout for Darling Waste live as they just embarked on a tour of the east coast which will include two local dates, at The Sound Hole on Jan. 30 with Squid The Whale and Exhaust The Fox and again on Feb. 10.
3. Lowcountry Dubstep Podcast
Since we covered the collective of local DJs known as Lowcountry Dubstep last spring, the group has continued to grow support for its monthly Bass-ic Euphoria events which are now being held at Borgata in Surfside Beach.
In addition, the group — which consists of Wallstreet, Fudda, Ikaris, Equilibrium and a rotating stable of other DJs and electronic enthusiasts — recently decided to launch its first podcast.
The 97-minute mix is a set of original tracks produced by local Jason "DJ Snugg" McDonald, thrown down by LCD member Timothy "Wallstreet" Wallace and associates Chris "XLuther" Williamson and Jeff "DJ Wicked" Page.
"This podcast is made for all types of DJs to be able to play what they want," writes Wallace. "Its not just Dubstep and DnB. We want all types of EDM and all kinds of experimental types."
Sponsored by local comic shop Corsair Comics, the release is the first of what LCD hopes will become a recurring series of shows/mixes that will continue to build a scene for electronic music locally.
"We are all ways looking for other people in the South Carolina area and other states who enjoy the larger range of EDM," Wallace says. "So if you dont feel like always playing dance music and some times get a little out there with it ... hit us up and I'm sure we can make room for you on one of our Podcasts."
4. Facebook Submissions
We get a lot of folks sending us music each month, and while we can't always feature it all, I like use this spot from time to time to link to some of the folks who took time to come and share their hard work with us. Check out a few of these, which were all submitted through Facebook, and let us know what you think:
• John Owens Journal - Daylight: New tune from the local folk band consisting of Joshua Grant (Sideways Derby) and Jeremy Dunham (Potatoeheads, Bullfrog).
• Tempest - Rubber Mala: First Dubstep-style electro track from young local producer Storm Evans.
• Rashad Starr - From Here 2 Eternity: Soulful single from Game Time Music singer Steven Rashad Alderman.
• Salvdor - Judge Me: Conway-based rapper releases first track from an upcoming mixtape with production by Tellingbeatz.
• Jest*R - EVOLV Mix: Dubstep mix from local DJ Tyler Hinkleman featuring tracks from Benny Page, Excision, Deadmau5 and others as well as some original material.
5. Wahoo Creek Band "Creepin'"
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to one of our favorite local country/rock groups who posted this live performance video of an original track called "Creepin'" earlier this week. The guys will emerge from their winter hibernation this weekend for their first show in awhile, playing at Southside Raw Bar at 9 p.m. tonight (details).