Local Heroes — The year’s local music highlights were many and diverse
Lotushalo This Mufreesboro trio possess something dearly lacking in most postmodern music: perspective. In their few short months together as a band, they’ve proven that observation and calculation can capture the imagination just as well as (if not better than) ostentation. Stripped to drums and guitars as clean as sheets of glass, Lotushalo make music impressive in its precision and directness. Fully conscious of an audience’s attention span and tolerance for volume, they play short, engaging instrumentals. But rather than being a retread of sounds that the band is clearly inspired by—instrumental post-hardcore groups like Don Caballero, Tortoise, and June of 44—Lotushalo make their music plain and simple and as fresh as the present moment. T.A.
Venus Hum This Nashville three-piece made a terrifically solid record that might have deserved a mention on its own merits. But it’s the band’s live presence that really warrants their inclusion in this list. Although Kip Kubin’s and Tony Miracle’s electronic whirs and bleeps may not sound like they’d translate to a live setting, Venus Hum’s music sounds livelier when pumping through a nice, loud sound system. But in truth, it’s singer Annette Strean who steals the show. The joyful abandon in her voice and her blithely nondescript stage movements (which pass for dancing) fill listeners with wonder and warmth—not to mention the fact that she looks unimaginably cool onstage. The combination of pulsing electronic rhythm and gleeful human voice is a unique and welcome addition to our guitar-addled scene. T.A.