By Jasper Intern Jenna Schiferl
Music Month in Columbia kicks off this Thursday with the WXRY Music Crawl, a free event that features over 30 musical acts spread across a two-block stretch of Main Street. Headlining the event at the WXRY Stage at the intersection of Main and Hampton Street is The Unlikely Candidates, Columbia’s Debbie and the Skanks, and the Charleston-based Stop Light Observations.
The latter band is one of my personal favorites—after its formation in 2011 and the release of a debut album in 2013, the group quickly built a loyal fanbase by constantly touring across the Southeast. The band plays shows locally at St. Pat’s in Five Points, Five After Five, and at Music Farm Columbia — as well as major festivals across the United States.
If you’re unfamiliar with Stop Light Observations, here are a few songs to listen to for a preview of their performance on June 1:
“Circadian Rhythms (Dusk),” Radiation — This track opens with a basic piano melody, but then an upbeat percussion rhythm and a simple guitar riff join in for the kind of melancholic groove that is the SLO’s calling card. The song is full of energy and an easy listen, but the haunting lyrics add a deeper level of complexity.
“Dead,” Toogoodoo — In August 2016 the band released their most recent album, titled Toogoodoo. The entirety of the album was created over a two-week period in a historic plantation house on the banks of the Toogoodoo River. “Dead” is a rich transitional track, replete with raw vocals and ghostly, echoing harmonies. It was allegedly recorded in a haunted cabin, and you can hear from the microphone on the porch the sounds of crickets and the creaking of wood as the song is performed.
“Idle Hands,” Toogoodoo — This song drifts through themes of lust, mortality, and self-reflection in the span of about four minutes, yet effortlessly manages to do so with allegorical lyrics and a recurring religious metaphor. A strong bass line and heavy drums create some sense of angst, but the overall tone of the song is one of confusion.
“16 Years’ Dream,” Radiation — This hidden gem is featured on the band’s debut album. The breathy falsetto of keyboardist John Keith “Cubby” Culbreth results in a sultry summer rock anthem.
“Dinosaur Bones,” Toogoodoo — This quintessential Stop Light Observations track was initially released as a single in 2016. It features poetic lyrics, synthesized melodies, and ambient bass lines. The gritty vocals of lead singer Will Blackburn puncture the song with powerful bursts of emotion.