The Best South Carolina Music of 2022

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    The Best South Carolina Music of 2022
    Published: December 28, 2022

    As 2022 comes to a close, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the exceptional tunes from South Carolina artists this year. Here, the Extra Chill staff has rounded up a few of our favorite albums, songs, and music videos of the year, in alphabetical order. Cheers to another year of great music. We can’t wait to hear what 2023 has in store. 

    ALBUMS

    Band of Horses – Things Are Great

    Band of Horses released their first album in six years, Things Are Great, in the spring, and it was worth the wait. Recorded at downtown Charleston studio The Space with producer Wolfgang Zimmerman, the ten songs radiate with the same cathartic energy that Band of Horses captures so well, at once tender and cutting. Bridwell’s voice soars with the evocative intensity as many of the lyrics recount tumultuous experiences in his own life. Sonically, the album finds balance between a quick pace and slowness, echoes and stillness, noise and space, all with a sense of humor.

    Contour – Onwards!

    Khari Lucas a.k.a. Contour’s debut album Onwards! is an impressive 12-song undertaking that renders the lines between poetry, rap, R&B nonexistent. Contour flexes his skills as a producer, musician, composer and vocalist. The album has a dreamlike quality, with production choices that meld otherworldly touches with gritty fervence. 

    Dawning – Demo Tape / Departure

    Dawning were a short blip in the South Carolina music landscape, releasing two EPs in 2022, playing a handful of shows, and then calling it quits recently after a final blowout performance at Neilson Fest 2.0. Fronted by former Apricot Blush frontman Jackson Wise, the group hit a nerve with many of their songs and helped to revitalize the DIY scene in Charleston, rightfully earning themselves a spot on this list.

    Doom Flamingo – In The Rain

    Doom Flamingo, the synthwave tour de force that’s known for its stellar studio recordings, put out their first live album this fall. The recordings were taken at various shows throughout the band’s summer tour and showcases their natural precision and, of course, Kanika Moore’s unmatched vocal prowess. The featured songs are a mix of their hits, newer songs, and some delightful covers.

    Hiss Golden Messenger – Greetings From Charleston!

    Greetings From Charleston! by Hiss Golden Messenger

    While not a South Carolina artist, folk rockers Hiss Golden Messenger released an excellent live album recorded at the Charleston Pour House. The album features a full concert recording, 18 songs that are mostly originals, with covers of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and “Bird Song” by the Grateful Dead. Released as a surprise over the summer, this turned out to be one of the most-spun releases of the year at Extra Chill HQ.

    Homemade Haircuts – Sun Showers

    Homemade Haircuts made a splash in the scene this year with a handful of memorable shows and the release of their debut album, Sun Showers in late summer. The album is snappy, upbeat and filled with bright guitars and sunny themes, with just the right amount of distortion. We look forward to what the future holds for this promising up-and-coming act.

    Keon Masters – No Problem 

    Masters’ 4-song EP, No Problem, is a satisfying follow-up to the artist’s 2019 album Many Thanks. The tracks feel bouncy and crisp with late-summer ease, but are contemplative, lyrically, exploring relationships, both with others and with oneself. With an instrumental pacing that seems to stutter and jut out and trip backwards while Masters’ croons, the EP sometimes calls to mind the Talking Heads. 

    Maxx Good$ – it is written

    The short and sweet project from Greenville’s Maxx Good$, it is written was just released in early December, and slides right into this list with a smooth ambience. Low-key to start, the project takes us through musings from Good$ accented by atmospheric synth and bass, before turning things up a notch with the final song, the powerful “hair like wool”, which samples a Malcolm X speech.

    Persona La Ave & Baraka – Vapor

    Frequent collaborators Persona La Ave and Baraka released a full-length album this year called Vapor that is filled with dreamy bangers. Mellow and expansive, this project takes the listener through a series of moods that are at times introspective, yet simultaneously groovy and danceable.

    Rex Darling – Living Room Diaries

    Another standout debut album, Living Room Diaries by Rex Darling shows singer Catherine Hunsigner leaning into her full creative potential. The songs play with choral touches, sensualistic lyrics, and ardent instrumentation to weave a sonic tapestry that induces a contemplative state in the listener. Living Room Diaries contains both ballads and anthems, creating a gratifying sense of cohesion. 

    R Dotta – A Hell of An Angel

    R Dotta’s recent project A Hell of An Angel showcases he rapper’s ability to flow between the lines of a beat, changing up his delivery in tandem with changes in the production. Each of the four tracks has him switching it up multiple times, but never failing to nail the timing. “These Days” stands out for being very hype and for the feature from Columbia rapper and filmmaker PATx.

    Shyland Flowers – PRAY I DON’T BURNOUT

    Greenville rapper Shyland Flowers is one of the hottest rappers in the entire state, featuring a laid-back style that brings the best of classic southern hip-hop with his own Carolina twist. The EP PRAY I DON’T BURNOUT shows the rapper questioning himself, hoping that he is able to continue releasing strong material without losing his drive and passion for the game. Judging by the bars on this EP, he certainly hasn’t burned out quite yet.

    Skip’Lo – Bodega

    Skip’Lo, the collaborative project between Damn Skippy and Appollo Valdez released their full-length debut this year, Bodega. The 13-song project shows the rappers experimenting with theme and sound while honing quick delivery skills and collaborating with complimentary artists. Features include Landon Wordswell, Little Stranger, Abstract – that Rapper, and Slim S.O.U.L, adding to the spirit of friendship at the core of the album.

    Tonya Nicole – #1996KindaLove

    Vocalist (and actress) Tonya Nicole’s debut album #1996KindaLove shows her playing with soul and R&B in a way that’s distinctly her, threaded with humor and warmth. The songs are grounded in good-natured sensuality, with a lyrical focus on the pleasures and yearnings of the body. Nicole also depicts the everyday in #1996KindaLove, transforming the mundane into the celebratory. 

    The Simplicity – DAHLIN’

    This was a big year for John Bias and his band The Simplicity, the latest format of the Charleston artist’s ever-expanding musical vision. Early this year saw the release of their debut album DAHLIN’, the energetic seven-track collection of songs that is overflowing with personality and pure rock ‘n’ roll.

    MUSIC VIDEOS

    2 Slices – “Meltdown”

    The lone 2 Slices release of the year, “Meltdown” did not disappoint. It was released in June along with a music video that features the band having their own little meltdowns inside of a rather beat-up looking house. Filmed by Taylor Hickman, the video is simple but displays a lot of personality, which is exactly what we love about 2 Slices.

    Babe Club – “Olivia”

    “Olivia,” one of Babe Club’s standout singles from this year, was paired with an equally noteworthy music video: singer Jenna Desmond traipses through all of the old haunts of her childhood with carefree delight, dressed eccentrically and hamming it up for the camera. The video, much like the track, explores nostalgia, avoiding cloying sweetness through the use of campy non-seriousness and Babe Club coolness.

    Baby Yaga – “10”

    Baby Yaga’s music video for “10,” a track off their most recent EP, SSDD, takes the angst that comes alongside the experience of being ghosted and transforms it into creative music video magic. Singer Presley Randall dances around innocently as she sings, contrasted by cuts to a ritualistic evening between her and some witch friends in which a sweater left by the ghoster is burned in effigy. Equal parts spooky and fun, the video for “10” captures the raw, emotive grunginess of the track.

    Cry Baby – “Singing For You”

    Another beloved Charleston band that decided to move to New York this year is Cry Baby, and they released “Singing For You” not long after the move took place. True to their style, the track is dripping with 90s nostalgia, except this time instead of a straightforward pop arrangement we hear more of an angsty rock element. The track is paired with a music video that splits shots of the group hanging around NYC with footage of them performing the track in a studio.

    Doom Flamingo – “Happy Boi”

    Doom Flamingo single “Happy Boi” was released along with a Paul Chelmis-directed music video that features bassist Ryan Stasik being a menace in the arcade of a move theatre. Employee Kanika Moore rallies the kids at the theatre to take their revenge on Stasik by attacking him and tying him up with prize tickets before dragging him out the door.

    DJ DollaMenu- “Hey Siri”

    In classic DJ DollaMenu fashion, the rapper’s video for his 2019 track “Hey Siri” melds humor and offbeat storytelling. DollaMenu embodies a cast of characters making their way through a day in the life, playing with the quotidien until the end of the video, where DollaMenu and a lady friend are almost attacked in a parking lot, saved only thanks to the interference of a mysterious stranger. The video is visually thrilling and DollaMenu, in his various forms, is a blast to hang out with for 3 minutes and 24 seconds.

    Ivory Keys – “Independent”

    Ivory Keys came through this summer with a short little track called “Independent” that hits just right. The accompanying music video features interesting shots of Keys doing his thing both on a rooftop and out in nature, feeling himself and the vibe of this song, just like his listeners.

    Kuntry – “Alive”

    Kuntry (formerly Lo’Kuntry) changed it up late this year with a swap from hip-hop to a more pop-oriented sound, and a corresponding name change. “Alive” was the first we heard of the new sound, which produced a full EP called HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Released on Halloween, “Alive” reminds us of a track of the same name by Kid Cudi, and came with an excellent music video by Joey Lenz that features Kuntry dressed as a werewolf, playing guitar and basketball.

    Loser Chris – “Hawaii” ft. Tobyraps

    Quirky Charleston rapper Loser Chris released a music video in early 2022 for his song “Hawaii”, which features Tobyraps. The lyrics describe wanting to escape to Hawaii, and the silly video was shot in spots you’ll recognize from all around Charleston including The Royal American, the Pour House, King Street, and more.

    Semkari – “Did It On”

    One of the earliest releases of 2022 was Semkari’s “Did It On” video, which dropped in January. Shot in downtown Charleston, the video features scenes at a backyard party and some nice artistic shots outside the convenience store on the corner of Ashe and Line street. The video draws a juxtaposition that Semkari draws upon in his music — that of the warm, fiery highs and the dark, cold lows.

    Susto – “Double Rainbow”

    Susto’s “Double Rainbow,” a track off their latest album, Time in the Sun, is a punchy, sly exploration of spiritually and psychedelia, and the music video captures both the spirit of the track and of frontman Justin Osborne as he’s splashed with colorful paint. A Bob Ross-esque tv-painter takes drugs and also experiences a burst of colorful creativity. With its humor, striking visuals, and slight nod toward the uncanny, the video for “Double Rainbow” is one of the most memorable of the year.

    Wolf Mask – “LIQUIDCRYSTALDISPLAY”

    Ross Bogan’s Wolf Mask made its debut this year at Extra Chill Fest, with the debut single from the project “LIQUIDCRYSTALDISPLAY” released in advance of the show. With its driving psychedelic force, the single captures a raw kind of psychedelia, and the accompanying video by Persona La Ave draws light upon the entire ethos of the project, including of course the signature wolf costume.

    SONGS

    Babe Club – “Lazy Lover”

    Though released in April of this year, Babe Club’s single “Lazy Lover” begins with lyrics that brought us straight back to the pandemic: “I don’t want to get out of bed today /  I don’t want to shave my legs.” Jenna Desmond goes on to sing about the experience of feeling like the weak one in a relationship while a brilliant beat and glittering synth bring the track fully into pop territory. The juxtaposition of melancholy and bubbly is where Babe Club finds their stride.

    Baby Yaga – “When You Came”

    Baby Yaga’s “When You Came” is pure, raw, angst.. “When you came around / I rose from the dead / You were an angel in a sweater / And a devil in bed,” Presley Randall sings, full of anguish. Then the track is mostly electric guitar, pulsing and feverish and so cathartic. It showcases the intensity that makes Baby Yaga songs so addictive.

    Brave Baby – “Dirt Patch Court”

    Of the two singles Brave Baby released in September, “Dirt Patch Court” stands out as one of the band’s greatest songs of the year. Driven by sprightly guitar and keys, the track begins at an even pace, slowly building toward an explosion of full, movie-montage-esque sound.​​ The lyrics are both nostalgic and forward-looking. Frontman Keon Masters lets his voice soar on lines like “Now the future’s coming faster / Settle in for the ride,” spurring introspection and anticipation.

    Brooke Garwood – “Acid”

    Brooke Garwood’s sprawling “Acid” depicts what one might experience after ingesting LSD. From the silly things you might do to the strange things you might think, to the overwhelming amount of feelings that are likely to wash over you. Set before a gentle arrangement, “Acid” feels like a soothing mid-summer acid trip, an appropriate accompaniment to the story told through the lyrics.

    Chris Wilcox – “Rising River”

    Chris Wilcox moved back to Charleston from Nashville last month and dropped a heater upon his arrival. The country-twanged “Rising River” chronicles the life of an alcoholic who knows he needs to change, but finds himself incapable or unwilling to do so. It’s a showcase of Wilcox’s songwriting talent — one that we’re happy to have back in our scene.

    Daddy’s Beemer – “Studying Roses”

    The September single from Daddy’s Beemer, “Studying Roses,” was the band’s first new music release since 2020’s Denmark and shows them building on the structure of their established sound, which lands somewhere between garage rock and melodic indie-pop. The track is crisp, with exacting acoustic guitar and clear vocals, but at times the instrumentation takes on a dreamy quality reminiscent of some of the brighter songs by The Cure. 

    Easy Honey – “Steady in Vertigo”

    “Steady in Vertigo,” the summer single from Easy Honey, showed them honing lyrical maturity and a full, cohesive band sound that came together with polished production. It packed the guitar-driven punch that the band’s best songs share, but with a wisened restraint that let its most intense moments shine all the more. 

    Human Resources – “Orange Tree”

    Undeniably one of the most popular tracks of the year, “Orange Tree” by Human Resources struck a balance between lightness and depth, the breezy, boppiness of the instrumentation made more serious through thought-provoking lyrics. The chorus begs for a sing-along, making it a track we found in constant rotation on our playlists and in our heads following its release.

    Laurlyn – “Honey”

    Breakout vocalist and songwriter Laurlyn delivered sun-soaked sweetness on her second single, “Honey.” The track allows Laurlyn to play with her range and she sings about a fraught relationship, and a pop beat and piano flourishes add further depth. 

    Lureto – “Ode to George”

    Lureto released a solid new EP this year called A Peak From the Crow’s Nest, filled with instrumental jams conceived by the four-piece during the pandemic. Standing out among those is “Ode to George”, an eight-minute progressive journey that was created in honor of the great George Clinton of Parliament / Funkadelic, whom would certainly be proud to hear it.

    Slow Funeral – “Living How You Wanna Live” ft. Young Mister

    Slow Funeral, the new project from Mary Norris of Salti Ray dropped a single last month called “Living How You Wanna Live”, which features the songwriter Young Mister. The moody, slow-burner of a track draws out emotions through harmonies and embellishments on guitar and piano before breaking into catharsis in the final moments.

    Shyland Flowers – “Smoke Breaks”

    Shyland Flowers was on fire this year, both with the standout EP PRAY I DON’T BURNOUT and a handful of singles, including the standout “Smoke Breaks”, featuring Sylvan LaCue and Sean King. Rapped over a simple drum beat accented by synth, the track feels like a nod to Curren$y, with straight bars and nothing but chill vibes that make this one a smooth listen during… dare I say, a “Smoke Break”?

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