Apparently there has been a quiet storm brewing in the mountains of North Carolina for a few years now; friends there have made a point of telling me about promising young bands that are popping up outside of the hippie/jam/bluegrass tradition the area is known for. But due to their locale and/or their inability or unwillingness to "come down from the mountain" (so to speak) in order to raise their profile, we Triangle types have remained largely unaware of Asheville's relatively new underground music phenomenon. But with Piedmont Charisma's self-titled release, it would appear that all that is about to change. Piedmont Charisma is one of those bands that whole scenes can be built around. On their debut CD the enigmatic quintet have put together one of those albums that comes out of nowhere, grabs you by the throat and then swings you around the room for good measure. Borrowing heavily from post-punk masters like Gang Of Four, The Fall and Wire, Piedmont Charisma throw a dash of glam rock in with their DEVO-esque rhythms to create one of the most original sounding records that I've heard in a long, long time. Rhythmically, the songs seem to careen along; the guitars, drums and keyboards pounding out hypnotic, sometimes spastic grooves. And vocalist Charles Corriher wails and struts above it all with enough, well, charisma to make the likes of a Bowie or Bolan proud.
From the first drumbeat and syncopated guitar chords of "Get With the Spinoff" through the wailing guitar and strut-and-stutter handclaps of REK, Piedmont Charisma commands your attention and earns your respect; this is a band to watch. Now, if we can just get them down from the mountain.