Introducing The Company Stores…

The Company Stores are my favorite local band. They are very well known and beloved in Charleston, WV. With their recent set at Mountain Stage, I think/hope the band is poised for a national break-through soon. Their lovely, eclectic new album, Little Lights, has quickly become a favorite of mine.

Lead singer-songwriter Casey Litz’s lilting, robust voice at times reminds me of Rhiannen Giddens, Natalie Merchant, and Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom, but their genre-bending, self-described “Hill Hop” sound–a mix of clangy Appalachian folk fiddles, swirling psychedelic rock guitars, big band brass, and occasional splashes of classical piano–is incomparable.

Standout tracks are “Fall From Heaven,” “Nightingale,” “Optimistic,” and “Shenandoah Fall,” but the album is fantastic in it’s entirety.

The Company Stores Official Site

Empires: New Album & Song!

Empires has been championed by several Muruch writers since they first burst onto the local Chicago music scene oh so long ago, so we’re so happy they’ve finally been signed by a major label (Chop Shop/Island Records). Their major label debut, Orphan, will be released on September 23rd. Here’s the first single, “Please Don’t Tell My Lover” and the video of Empires’ recent performance on David Letterman

Buy @ Amazon (Available for Pre-Order August 19th)

Empires Official Site

Free Music from WV’s The 1937 Flood

By: Brendan

The 1937 Flood call themselves an eclectic string band. They recently released a gorgeous version of “The Rose” featuring friend of the band Kathy Castner. You can stream the song here, or subscribe to their podcast for a downloadable version. The band will perform a free outdoor concert on Friday May 24th at Pricketts Fort State Park.

Buy The 1937 Flood’s Music @ Amazon

Bare Bones: Put Your Loving Arms All Around Me

Put Your Loving Arms All Around Me is the latest release by Bare Bones, an acapella trio based in Charleston, WV. The songs range from traditional folk and gospel to blues and doo wop. The entire album is sung acapella by the three members of Bare Bones: Becky Kimmons, her husband Bill Kimmons and Mark Davis (formerly Crazy Jane‘s drummer and an occasional performer with the VooDoo Katz). It’s a refreshingly old-fashioned collection, free of artifice and featuring some truly dazzling harmonies.

I’d heard of local band Bare Bones for a while, but hadn’t actually heard them until a few weeks ago. The trio sang the traditional folk song “All I Want is You” on stage accompanied by dancers from The River City Youth Ballet as part of the RCYB’s recent “Music in Motion” performance. Bare Bones sounded so good, I kept forgetting to watch the dancers. I was disappointed the song isn’t included on their album, but there’s plenty of other great tracks to make up for it.

At times the three singers’ voices merrily dance with and around each other like a barbershop quartet, most notably in their cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold On Me.”

I’m not personally keen on the many old school gospel numbers they cover, with the exception of “Blind Bartimus,” but I’m sure they will appeal to a lot of folk and gospel fans. It’s just that a little of that goes a long way with me.

The standout tracks find lead singer, Becky Kimmons, singing solo – such as the haunting ballad “Old Virginia” and jaunty “I Loved a Roving Gambler.”

Bare Bones – You Really Got a Hold on Me (mp3 clip)*

*mp3 clip hosted by band

Buy @ CDBaby

Bare Bones Official Site
Bare Bones MySpace

Local Music: The Disappearing Man

Muruch‘s Vic and Heather popped into Taylor Books on Friday night in search of chai and dessert. The cafe was packed with not a single seat to be found. The cause for the crowd seemed to be the scheduled musician for the night: The Disappearing Man (a.k.a. Brandon Mitchell). To be honest, we initially dismissed what appeared to be the standard local guy-with-guitar schtick and headed back toward the bookshelves instead. We eventually sat on the floor in the travel section, which was close enough to hear the music but private enough to chat.

A few minutes later we were pleasantly shocked when the formerly quiet, unassuming The Disappearing Man suddenly burst into a rousing rendition of Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.” Granted, the song itself is irresistable, but his cover was good enough to have us singing along and floor-dancing. He followed that up with an equally worthy cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.”

Later, as we browsed books, The Disappearing Man spun things in a completely different direction with an acoustic rendering of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” Not only did the crowd sing along, but one very enthusiastic guy jumped up to serve as The Disappearing Man’s backup dancer for the song. You can check out some of The Disappearing Man’s own music below. Even if you don’t like his original music, I recommend catching him live for the covers alone.