gg-companystoresNext up in our annual list of holiday gift suggestions I have to recommend one of the best albums by a local group released this year. “Little Lights,” the second album by The Company Stores manages to avoid the sophomore slump, delivering a stunning collection of original and uncatagorizable songs.

The musicianship is astounding and vocalist Casey Litz is a documented force of nature, and this album continues their genre-defying ways with a sound unlike any band, local or national. The album was recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Asheville, NC with Grammy Award winning record producer Julian Dryer. Initial recording and promotion costs were funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and the group continued to headline major venues and festivals all year long.

There are ballads, story songs, funky dance numbers and a genre-hopping cadre of excellent, original music. This is the synthesis of modern contemporary music, blending a wide range of influences in a brand-new sound made by real musicians who have something real to say. It stands head and shoulders above the cookie-cutter, pre-manufactured slabs of sound that you hear on commercial radio.

You can check out the video for their lead single, “So Good,” below (and a promo clip for the album below that), and pruchse the album from the band’s website, or CD Baby. You can purchase a download, but I am recommending the physical CD. For one thing, it’s something you can wrap. I think you may be able to find hard copies of this CD at Budget Tapes & Records, Sullivan’s Records and Taylor Books, as well as at live shows.

I wish it were easier to buy the physical CD is because of the gorgeous artwork by local artist, Chris Woodall, that makes this album a very special package.

I’ll bet you can also buy a copy of the CD at their shows, and they do have some upcoming gigs of note: November 18 they will be at Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio; December 15 they are performing at The Clay Center in Charleston; The Company Stores play The Grove in Fayetteville, WV, the next day; A little late for Christmas, but a killer time will be had as the band rings in the New Year at The Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV, on December 31.

Great live music AND a CD might be the best gift of all.