Each year, when I begin compiling the list of my favorite local LPs and EPs, I initially question how I will ever make it to 25: Were there even 25 great "local" releases this year? Ones that hung together beyond including a notable song or two? Ones that I will remember when the calendar soon flips?
A few weeks later, though, I invariably start whittling down, reducing a roster that sometimes swells beyond 50 to the 25 spaces I've allowed. And so it went this year, when I had to cut at least 15 area titles I liked a lot in order to get to my list's upper limit. To compensate, at least, I've included a list of honorable mentions—necessary, it seems, during a year when compelling music and stories seemed to emerge from every corner of the Triangle.
BEDOWYN, Blood of the Fall; BODY GAMES, Local Love Vol. 1; CALAPSE, You Know How I Feel; DEMON EYE, Tempora Infernalia; FLESH WOUNDS, In the Mouth; GNØER, Tethers Down; JACK THE RADIO, Badlands; KOOLEY HIGH, Heights; KNURR & SPELL, Ought; LILAC SHADOWS, Brutalism; MAGNOLIA COLLECTIVE, An Old Darkness Falls; SAGAN YOUTH, Cela; THE WYRMS, At Wizard Island
"To go with those fixes, The Station has also upped its booking ambition. The first ten shows in the re-launched room, spread over four weekends in April, are impressive. Grandma Sparrow and Wham City Comedy share what’s sure to be a surreal bill, while the mighty Transportation mingles with the great new Knurr and Spell. Michael Rank, Kamara Thomas, and Teardrop Canyon join some of those gigs, too. The Station will host bands on Thursdays and Fridays, followed by DJs on Saturdays. "
Sean Parker once led Pleasant, a beguiling Chapel Hill group whose slanting melodies and oblong instrumental lines should have pushed the group to the audiences that greeted Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Oxford Collapse or even The New Pornographers. Pleasant split years ago, and Parker has finally brought his uncanny sense of twisting time and tone back to bear with the quartet Knurr and Spell. The band’s exciting debut, Ought, takes what was great about Pleasant and decorates it in fancier clothes, fostering a tension between the hard angles of Murphy’s writing and the softer approach of the veteran players around him. And bassist Betty Rupp is a righteous vocal foil for Parker, especially on the rising, redeeming “Oh My God, You Are Insane.” —Grayson Haver Currin
This four-band bill gathers disparate locals—two very new and two that just don't get out too much. Led by Sean Parker, Knurr and Spell makes its debut with nervy, coruscating indie rock that suggests some strange, bejeweled cross between Joy Division and 764-Hero. They're joined by fellow upstarts Lakes & Woods, featuring members of North Elementary and Free Electric State. Ruscha renders badass instrumentals that zig and zag from metals both sludgy and mathematical, while Robes makes endearing electro-pop that is slight by design. —Grayson Haver Currin