Listening to … Parmalee, ‘Feels Like Carolina’

Josh McSwain, and from left, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Matt Thomas of the musical group Parmalee arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP)

(L-R) Josh McSwain, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Matt Thomas of  Parmalee arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. © Invision/AP photo by Wade Payne.

I know very little about Parmele, N.C., but it must be one heckuva a party town.

That’s at least the impression you get from Must’ve Been a Good Time, the signature song from the town’s namesake band, Parmalee (according to CMT, the spelling is altered to help outsiders pronounce it correctly). Singer Matt Thomas describes the aftermath of a throw-down at his home including people passed out on couches and in the yard, animals in strange places, re-purposed furniture and general automotive chaos. He can’t remember any of it happening, but concluded, “We must’ve had a good time.”

Parmalee-Feels Like CarolinaCertainly country and rock ‘n’ roll have had their shares of party-hearty anthems, but clever writing a strong groove steer this tune past clichéville, and Good Time really deserved a better ride on the Billboard  country charts than it got in 2012 (it peaked at No. 38 on country airplay, but did better in satellite radio surveys).

And Parmalee’s late 2013 release Feels Like Carolina contains a number of promising tunes that should make for a good set when the band shows up for Red, White & Boom on the Fourth of July weekend.

Probably the best-known tune is Carolina, the band’s first No. 1 from earlier this year, a touring musician’s homesick-heartsick anthem that’s easy on the ears. There are fun ideas like the “headlights are spotlights” rocker Dance and the  first-kiss song Close Your Eyes for This. Move does a good job affecting a rap cadence without sounding like a country band that really wants be a hip-hop act.

Some tunes aren’t as successful like Back in the Day, a standard issue nostalgia song we’ve heard from every guy who can’t get over high school (now that you’ve got that out of your system, move on). But then there are well-crafted tunes like My Mongomery, with a reverb-drenched guitar paving the road for the highway meditation.

The album ends on a strong note with Another Day Gone, a pretty sober regret song in a similar vein to Carolina.

The winners on the album make it seem Parmalee’s long, sometimes scary — these are the guys whose drummer, Scott Thomas, was shot in an attempted robbery in 2010 — trip out of North Carolina might take them somewhere.

With Red, White & Boom in a couple weeks, we’re giving a listen to albums by some of the supporting acts in the 18-band lineup to give you a sense what you’ll hear while you tan July 5 and 6.

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