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shirlette ammons — “Language Barrier”

Churchkey Records is pleased to announce that we will be co-releasing shirlette ammons’ sophomore album Language Barrier of February 5th, 2016, in partnership with newly-launched SugarQube Records. The first single, “Earth Intro”, features a guest appearance by Grammy Award-winning duo The Indigo Girls. Other guests on the album include Meshell Ndegeocello, Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso), Hiss Golden Messenger, German rapper sookee, Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah), Median (Foreign Exchange Music Group), Joceyln Ellis, and Phil Cook. All of the music was composed by Daniel Hart whose credits include St. Vincent and Broken Social Scene amongst others. shirlette worked with a broad and talented roster of award-winning guests to create a record that blends and bends genres. shirlette recently debuted a few tracks from the album at ¡Que Viva!, the annual day party presented by Churchkey Records and The Layabout at Hopscotch Music Festival.

“As a part of the whole Language Barrier concept, I wanted to write an album that explores the ways we love across imposed and implied barriers. In this sense, Language Barrier is an album about love as an act of resistance. I also wanted to approach genre as a ‘barrier’ then break it down.” The album seamlessly moves between indie and classic rock, hip hop and ambient soul. “To have an opportunity to work with Meshell, The Indigo Girls, Amelia, Hiss Golden Messenger—and all on one record—is a dream come true,” shirlette says.

SugarQube Records is the brainchild of identical twins shirlette and Shorlette Ammons, and Language Barrier is their debut release. Asked about working with SugarQube to release Language Barrier, Churchkey’s Kyle Miller and Steve Jones said “shirlette is such a fantastic artist, and we’ve wanted to work on a record with her for years—we’re thrilled and flattered to be working together with the Ammons twins as they launch SugarQube Records.”

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Wood Ear – “Electric Alone”

While two years between releases might seem like an eternity for some bands, fans of Wood Ear might be surprised to hear the new EP, Electric Alone, following so quickly after its predecessor. Though he began writing Wood Ear songs in 2001, it wasn’t until 2006 that Nate Tarr self-released Wood Ear’s debut EP The Hard Way, thanks to a gift of some analog tapes that had been found in the trash. Six years and numerous personal challenges later, the band followed up with Steeple Vultures on Churchkey Records, more frequent live shows, and a growing profile throughout the Southeast.

Having begun as a solo act most easily comparable to Jay Farrar, Wood Ear’s growth into a full rock band has allowed Tarr to put forth songs that channel the likes of J. Masics and Paul Westerberg as well. The full-framed rock sound that surprised some on Steeple Vultures has become a staple of Wood Ear’s live show, and Electric Alone pushes the Durham, NC band even further in that direction.

The songs on Electric Alone reveal that the struggles haven’t stopped, continuing to tackle pain and loneliness, but also opening the door to fresh starts and forgiveness. Sometimes that glimmer of hope is what it takes to keep you going—here’s hoping it will lead to a continued stream of output from Wood Ear.

Click here to buy Electric Alone in CD, MP3, or FLAC formats

Stream or download “Pack of Cards,” the opening track from Electric Alone, via Bandcamp:

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Spider Bags – Singles

ckr015-200pxWe’re thrilled to announce that Spider Bags will be releasing Singles, a collection of singles released between 2008 and 2012, on CD and LP via Churchkey Records June 25th. Click here to pre-order Singles on CD or LP, and get an MP3 download of the full album instantly.

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Following the release of Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World, the band’s sophomore LP, Spider Bags Dan McGee, Gregg Levy, and Rock Forbes toured the country relentlessly in an old Mitsubishi Mirage, with Forbes crammed into the back seat alongside the band’s gear. Three of the six 45s mined for the upcoming Singles collection were recorded during this period, a creative frenzy for McGee and his cohorts. Levy has since returned to the North, replaced by new bassist Steve Oliva, and the three newest songs on Singles offer sightlines to the new line-up’s bright future. But for McGee, the collection is most meaningful as a document of Spider Bags’ first consistent configuration.

“I made a CD for Steve when he joined the band,” McGee recalls, “a CD of the other songs that weren’t on the albums, and I listened to it before I gave it to him. I was like, ‘This kind of tells a weird little story.’”

More than consolidating the output from one of Spider Bags’ most crucial periods, Singles chronicles McGee’s evolution from bare-bones garage purist to ambitious rock experimentalist, a journey that comes full circle on Shake My Head. Released in 2012, the band’s third LP is an intricately explosive collection that builds on techniques that McGee refined with a trio of 7-inches (Teenage Eyes, Dog in the Snow and Take It Easy Tonite) each released on a different local label between 2009 and 2010.

“Teenage Eyes” crystallizes the Bags’ touch for ragged but resplendent rock, a skill that is complicated by psychedelic scuzz on Singles’ subsequent offerings. “Dog in the Snow” drives ahead with a kraut-ish bass line that recalls Thee Oh Sees as McGee howls with wild abandon through dense layers of effects and reverb. “Take It Easy Tonite” goes even further. The song went through dozens of revisions before its first release in 2010 and is perfected on Singles with a dizzying sax solo from the Wigg Report’s Ben Riseling. The addition complements McGee’s tangled distortion, blowing out this simple call for a night of relaxation into an absorbing spectacle.

Singles tracks Spider Bags’ evolution from roughly recorded songwriting outlet to one of the most skilled and exciting rock ‘n’ roll outfits around, and that — in addition to a slate of exciting songs that challenge the band’s proper LPs for catalog supremacy — makes it essential for any fan wanting to understand them completely.

Singles track listing:

  1. Teenage Eyes
  2. Papa Was a Shithead
  3. Walking Walking Nowhere Nowhere
  4. Dog in the Snow
  5. I Wish That I Never Had Fed You
  6. Take it Easy Tonite
  7. Shaunda (I Don’t Know My Sign)
  8. Eileen
  9. Professionals
  10. Out of My Head, Into My Bed

Looking for the individual Spider Bags 7″s?

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Best of 2012: Steve Jones

In the past I’ve put my favorite albums of the year in a ranking order. This year I’ve decided to not to do that because at some point during the year each of these records have been my favorite.

Patterson Hood Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance (ATO)

Patterson Hood is absolutely my favorite songwriter/storyteller. No one does a better job of writing about the South than him except maybe Larry Brown.

Spider Bags Shake My Head (Odessa)

Dirtbag rock ‘n’ roll made by dirtbags for dirtbags. The Bags might not be the best live band, but they ARE the best band to see live.

River City Tanlines Coast to Coast (Big Legal Mess)

I’m a sucker for female-led powerpop, and Alicja Trout is really good at it.

Japandroids Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)

This is a rock ‘n’ roll record.

The Golden Boys Dirty Fingernails (12XU)

Spider Bags’ Texan dirtbag cousins. I once had the misfortune of seeing John Wesley Coleman pull his cowboy boots off on the porch at the Layabout. I’m not sure how long they had been on tour, but Wes had apparently lost or forgot socks. I’ve never seen a nastier sight in my life. I still have nightmares.

Gentleman Jesse Leaving Atlanta (Douchemaster)

I have no idea why this band isn’t huge. Not many people can write and play hooks like Jesse. He also has a sweet cat named Chong.

Ty Segall Twins (Drag City)/ Ty Segall Band Slaughterhouse (In the Red)

Ty Shreds.

Beachwood Sparks The Tarnished Gold (SubPop)

This is a beautiful, beautiful record.

Kathleen Edwards Voyageur (Zoë)

No one uses the word “fuck” as gracefully as Kathleen Edwards. Pretty sure the only Canadian on my list.

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Best of 2012: Kyle Miller

We can argue all day about what “best” means, so let’s just call these my favorite non-Churchkey songs of 2012.

Spider Bags — “Simona La Ramona”: There have been lots of songs I’ve loved over the course of the year, but this has been my favorite song for the entire year, even before I heard the recorded version. I love dancing to it at live shows. I love dancing to it at my desk. I love dancing to it in the car. It means a lot to me in a way that I can’t elegantly explain. So even though I can’t be bothered to put the rest of the list in any sort of order, this one goes first.

Plateaus — “Beach Coma”: I’m absolutely loving this song right now. Conveniently, it’s the end of the year, so we don’t have to find out if it stands the test of time. It really reminds me of some of the Jay Reatard Matador singles.

The Golden Boys — “We Are Young”: This is probably my favorite sing-along song of the year. Er, make that shout-along song. That Golden Boys show at Kings was one of my favorite shows this year, and I totally lost my voice the day after. Please come back, Golden Boys. And thanks for giving me a ride, Chaz!

Terry Malts — “Tumble Down”: “Up on the hill, I held your hand. Both of us so drunk we couldn’t stand…” It’s a pretty adorable love song, and it gets me bopping up and down without noticing. Everyone in Durham is glad that Dan & Craig introduced us to Terry Malts, right?

Cloud Nothings — “Stay Useless”: What happened to Cloud Nothings? They were on my “must see” list at SXSW this year (they were excellent) and then they pretty much disappeared. Anyway, “Stay Useless” is 90s as fuck, and got a ton of repeats this spring.

Howler — “Beach Sluts”: I listened to America Give Up almost every day this spring and summer on my afternoon walks to the post office. Walking to the post office when the weather’s nice is actually one of my favorite things to do, and the Howler record just sort of became part of the habit. I love that I run into friendly faces all around downtown, and it’s nice to stop and chat or just wave. “Beach Sluts” sparks some of that warmth in me, even when it’s too cold to walk to the post office.

Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”: It’s not just a hell of a pop song. Every time I hear “Call Me Maybe” it stirs up fond memories of summer nights at the DBAP.

Gross Ghost — “Devious”: I think “Lurker” is probably my favorite song on Brer Rabbit, but since it came out in some form or another in both 2010 and 2011, I’m going with “Devious” here. There’s no wrong choice—Gross Ghost rules. I rang in 2012 just minutes after Gross Ghost finished their set at The Soapbox, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them for the first time in 2013 (Jan. 15th @ The Pinhook.)

Superchunk — “This Summer”: The “This Summer” / “Cruel Summer” single almost singlehandedly got me through a tough road trip in June. It got me some pretty weird looks on 95, too.

Jaill — “Everyone’s a Bitch”: Speaking of driving, I listened to “Everyone’s a Bitch” on repeat the whole drive from Portsmouth, NH to Logan airport. It was kind of a mistake at first, but I just went with it. What? You think I’m a weirdo?

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Best of 2012: Jordan Lawrence

For the past couple years, I’ve been asked to vote in a year-end lists at a couple publications. One problem: All of those publications only want a ballot of your top-10 records, which means I spend a couple of weeks obsessing over some 30 or 40 LPs with a shot at making my final 10, leaving a solid assembly of deserving records sitting on my spreadsheet. This year, I’m trying to correct my problem. Below, you’ll find my “honorable mention” top 10, the records that just barely missed the cut on my year-end ballot. Enjoy.

11. Dirty Projectors — Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)
12. Mount Eerie — Ocean Roar (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
13. Dan Melchior — The Backward Path (Northern Spy)
14. Dan Deacon — America (Domino)
15. Thee Oh Sees — Putrifiers II (In the Red)
16. Death Grips — NO LOVE DEEP WEB (self-released)
17. Baroness — Yellow & Green (Relapse)
18. Tyvek — On Triple Beams (In the Red)
19. Titus Andronicus — Local Business (XL)
20. Hawks — Pushover  (Learning Curve)

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Churchkey @ Hopscotch 2012

Hopscotch Music Festival 2012 is only a few days away! Here’s a quick rundown of where you can find Churchkey-affiliated bands and events throughout the festival:

 

 

 

 Thursday, September 6th:

  • Wood Ear @ Tir na Nog — 9pm (hopscotch wristband required)
  • Free Electric State @ Kings Barcade — 10:30pm (hopscotch wristband required)

 Friday, September 7th:

 Saturday, September 8th:

  • Last Year’s Men @ The Berkeley Cafe — 3:00pm (free; no wristband required)
  • Spider Bags @ Hargett St. in front of The Raleigh Times — 12:30pm (free; no wristband required)

 

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Churchkey V: August 25th @ PHK

These days, surviving as an independent label is a tall order. It’s a business based mostly on faith, fronting the cash to press a record by a band you love with nothing to back you up but your gut. It’s a game of stretched wallets and bruised livers, and surviving it necessitates that you know your audience and believe in your artists. This fall, we at Durham’s Churchkey Records will celebrate five years of beating the rock ‘n’ roll odds, and we want you to help us celebrate.

Churchkey V hits the Pinhook in Durham on Aug. 25 with performances by Last Year’s Men and Wood Ear. Wood Ear owns our latest release, Steeple Vultures — a gorgeous collection of road-worn, Southern-tinged indie rock. The Independent Weekly’s Grayson Currin called Steeple Vultures “a perfect nexus of the Triangle’s dual indie rock and alt-country legacies.” Last Year’s Men released an LP on Churhckey in 2010 and also happen to be one of the best garage rock bands in the South. The Washington Post’s David Malitz said of Last Year’s Men, “There’s an optimism and energy that helps separate (the) band from its peers.”

Tickets for the show will be set at the low price of $5. That same quintet of Washingtons will buy you any one of the label’s 14 releases at the merch table. We’re grateful to have gotten to work so many wonderful rock ‘n’ roll friends these past five years. Consider this party a rough and rowdy “Thank you.”

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First One’s Free

Y’all are kind of broke right now, right? But y’all like going to kickass rocknroll shows, too, right? We’ve been busy scheming with our pals at The Pinhook to solve this very problem. Just in time for summer.

Churchkey Records and The Pinhook are excited to present “First One’s Free,” a series of free shows on the first Saturday night of each month at The Pinhook in Downtown Durham.

The series kicks off on Saturday June 2, with Whatever Brains and Gross Ghost, sponsored by Scion A/V.

Raleigh’s Whatever Brains are an abrasively upbeat garage-punk conundrum. Dense tangles of distorted guitar zoom about under the stomping impact of crusty bass lines and punishing drums. Pepper in in the irreverent provocations that Rich Ivey spits with his appealingly nasal bleat, and you arrive at the most divisive and devastating rock the Triangle has to offer.

Carrboro’s Gross Ghost are decidedly more accessible, but nonetheless engaging. Forcing the fuzzy distortion of ‘90s indie through a buoyant pop filter, the band creates catchy and kinetic jams that resound with a blurry sense of excitement.

Got it? First One’s Free. First Saturday of every month. At The Pinhook. Let’s do this, y’all.

These screen-printed posters by Steve Oliva will be for sale at the show.
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Best of 2011: Kyle Miller

Today we have the top ten songs of 2011 from Churchkey co-founder Kyle Miller, in no particular order.

An Horse — “Dressed Sharply”: this one was a favorite of mine from the first time I heard it, at Mohawk in Austin during SXSW. Nearly a year later, it’s still one of the songs I sing in the car most often. I’m always amazed by how “big” this band sounds, live and on record, and I love the contrast when the guitars drop out at the end of this song. That part is also a nice reminder of how terrible of a singer I am.

The Mountain Goats — “Damn These Vampires”: I bought All Eternals Deck,  the rest of which which ended up not sticking with me at all, on the strength of this single. No mystery why: the chorus is totally unfuckwithable. Big Mountain Goats fans would probably consider this blasphemy, but hey, everyone’s got their thing. If Friday Night Lights was still on TV, “Damn These Vampires” would be the perfect backdrop to one of those season premier montages, before they cut to Slammin’ Sammy Meade on the radio, right?

Telekinesis — “50 Ways”: Loud, quiet, loud. Works every time, just like Colt .45.

Black Lips — “Family Tree”: Instant dance party. Every time. My neighbors have almost certainly witnessed some embarrassing dance moves. As did about 800 strangers at the Lincoln Theatre when I saw the Black Lips, The Love Language, Spider Bags, and Last Year’s Men live and under the influence at Hopscotch. Absolutely one of my favorite nights of the year, and one of my favorite songs of the year.

Fucked Up — “Queen of Hearts”: Man. I feel like I can do anything when I hear the opening riff. If I was going to get out of bed in the morning and take over the world, I’d put this song on in my headphones. Also, the video with the kids singing along rules.

Apex Manor — “Teenage Blood”: I totally missed the boat on The Year of Magical Drinking when it first came out. It took a $5 Amazon deal and a recommendation from Dan McCleary to get me to finally check it out. Dan used the magic words “Replacements” and “Teenage Fanclub,” so I had no choice but to check it out. It was probably the best five bucks I spent this year. Lasts a lot longer than a pint of Mother Earth Kölsch, too.

Mount Moriah — “The Reckoning”: “Lament” made my list last year, and I’m going with “The Reckoning” this year, now that the Mount Moriah album has gotten properly released. This song is just beautiful from beginning to end, lyrically and sonically. I can’t really say anything about it that hasn’t been said at this point. If by chance you haven’t listened to this song, please do.

Gillian Welch — “Tennessee”: I find myself humming the chorus at random times of day, even when I haven’t heard the song for weeks. That automatically qualifies it for this list, right?

Whatever Brains — “The Future of Porn”: In Rich Ivey I trust. For full impact, see it played live. Whatever Brains is quite possibly the best live band in the Triangle right now.

Titus Andronicus — “Breed”: This was on the Newermind tribute album that SPIN released for free online to mark the 20th anniversary of Nevermind‘s release. In contrast to the hugeness I’ve come to expect from Titus Andronicus, it sounds like your favorite punkrock band playing in your friend’s basement. Rad.

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Best of 2011: Jordan Lawrence

Our year-end wrap-up continues with Jordan Lawrence, Churchkey’s publicist and lone employee. Here are his top ten live sets from 2011.

1. Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio – Fletcher Opera Theater, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The endless momentum and mind-bending textures of Chatham’s signature minimalist statement couldn’t have been more tremendous reverberating through this magnificent setting. It had the effect of an aural narcotic, numbing my brain and distorting my sense of time. Amazing.
  • Signature moment: Among the 10 imposing guitarists performing Chatham’s masterwork, Horseback’s Jenks Miller was the only one to rock out. His impassioned headbanging assured me that at least one other person was as overwhelmed by the experience as I was.

2. Amon Tobin’s Isam – Asheville Civic Center Arena, Moogfest – Asheville, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The singular combination of Tobin’s lush, pounding electronic composition and the awe-inspiring projection set-up a team of top artists cooked up for Isam‘s performance is tough to put into words. Just watch:

  • Signature moment: The first time the geometry of the projection lined up with Tobin’s cube-constructed screen such that it appeared to move. I literally took two steps back.

3. Swans – Fletcher Opera Theater, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The set underground legends Swans laid down at Hopscotch was a dark  monstrosity of punishing minor-chord riffs and the menacing clang of powerful chimes. It was forceful and transfixing, and in every way lived up to the band’s reputation.
  • Signature moment: Singer/guitarist Michael Gira stomping out the tempo during the concussive opening to “No Words/No Thoughts” with all the fury of a drum major from Hell.

4. Ty Segall – Kings – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Polished but raucous, Ty Segall’s sublime March display at Kings was everything a great garage rock set should be. The San Francisco sensation and his band tore through songs with precision, lighting them up with powerful yet economical instrumentals that accentuated his tight and aggressive hooks. In other words, he showed everybody how it’s done.
  • Signature moment: I can remember few sets of straight-up rock ‘n’ roll that have left me so amazed. Hard to pick one moment that was more signature than any other.

5. Suicide – Orange Peel, Moogfest – Asheville, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Suicide all but invented synth-pop and inspired Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska with their 1977 debut, so seeing them playing it from front to back would have been a thrill even if had been mediocre. It wasn’t. Marty Rev’s chugging, churning keyboard lines found a perfect middle ground between caustic and catchy as Alan Vega found new fury in a voice worn ragged by the intervening years. It was untamed and unforgettable, a timeless display of (still) youthful intensity.
  • Signature moment: Vega bumming a cigarette from a girl in the front row and then grunting his lines through a veil of smoke — in clear violation of the N.C. smoking ban.

6. Earth – Kings, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The strung-out desert metal of Earth’s fantastic 2011 LP Angles of Darkness, Demons of Light I was even better live, manipulating tired festival minds like soft clay. The set drifted on for two hours and retained an amazing feeling of tense calm throughout, providing an experience that was as impressive as it was absorbing
  • Signature moment: Guitarist Dylan Carlson reprimanding photographers for using flash after he’d asked them not to and making them look like spoiled children.

7. Wolves in the Throne Room – Studio B – Greensboro, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Wolves’ soaring gusts of black metal guitar are a wonder live. They transformed a ritzy art gallery into a stormy woodland with their stunning guitar architecture and Nathan Weaver’s potent caterwaul.
  • Signature moment: The slow build to the band’s first song built anticipation to a fever pitch before the band laid into their devastating attack.

8. Hiss Golden Messenger – Nightlight – Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: M.C. Taylor and a top-notch band, which included members of the Black Twig Pickers and William Tyler, rendered the smooth trip through American sound of his new LP Poor Moon into an amazingly potent live force. The ensemble was tight, allowing each player in the seven-piece band to shine through wonderfully.
  • Signature moment: William Tyler’s guitar fills were a delight, filling in gaps in creative bursts without ever overshadowing the songs or the other instrumentalists.

9. Naked Gods – Legitimate Business – Greensboro, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The tempered Wilco-meets-Dinosaur Jr rock of their LP No Jams explodes live, and never more intensely than at this gem of a Thursday night gig. Guitars bent tones in wondrously stoned harmonies as choruses were transformed into shouted exhultations. Rock ‘n’ roll energy doesn’t come any more pure and powerful.
  • Signature moment: Singer Seth Sullivan beating the heck out of his tambourine and letting his eyes roll back during the ridiculously tight guitar work on “Shaq & Diane.”

10. Thee Oh Sees – Krankies Coffee  – Winston-Salem, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: This set was raucous in all the best ways. Thee Oh Sees’ fuzzed-out psych rock was rough but fluid, roaring down catchy pathways with staggering dexterity. The crowd responded in kind, erupting in a jubilant mosh pit that consumed most of the venue.
  • Signature moment: Running to the back of the club for a much needed glass of water and looking on at the writhing crowd. I’ve seen few audiences so excited.

Honorable mention:
Apache Dropout – Deep South, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.
Brain F≠ – Slim’s, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.
Gunn-Truscinski Duo – The Pour House, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.
Frank Fairfield – Flanders Gallery, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.
Fucked Up – Kings – Raleigh, N.C.
Mikal Cronin – Duke Coffeehouse – Durham, N.C.
Nobunny – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, N.C.
Reigning Sound (New Year’s Eve) – Grey Eagle – Asheville, N.C.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings –  Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival – Pittsboro, N.C.
Sidi Toure – Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival – Pittsboro, N.C.
Whatever Brains (LP Release) – Kings – Raleigh, N.C.
William Tyler and Wooden Wand – The Pour House, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

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Best of 2011: Steve Jones

Our look back at 2011 continues with input from Churchkey co-founder Steve Jones. Here are his top ten favorite records from the last year:

1. Mount Moriah – Mount Moriah (Holidays for Quince)
2. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
3. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life (Matador)
4. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)
5. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread (Drag City)
6. Apex Manor – The Year of Magical Drinking (Merge)
7. King Louie’s Missing Monuments – Painted White (Douchemaster)
8. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain (Vice)
9. Jacuzzi Boys – Glazin’ (Hardly Art)
10. Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Merge)

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Best of 2011: David Koslowski

Today begins a 2011 retrospective from Churchkey artists, friends and employees. David Koslowski, singer ans guitarist for the huge, riff-powered Durham rock outfit Free Electric State starts things off with dual top tens of his favorite records and shows from the past year:

Records:
Wye Oak – Civilian (Merge)
Pontiak – Comecrudos (Thrill Jockey)
Zomes – Earth Grid (Thrill Jockey)
Anika – Anika (Stones Throw)
Weekend – Red EP (Slumberland)
Celebration – Hello Paradise (Friends)
Braids – Native Speaker (Kanine)
Arbouretum – The Gathering (Thrill Jockey)
Peaking Lights – 936 (Not Not Fun)
Wooden Shjips – West (Thrill Jockey)

Shows:
The Soft Moon – Comet Club – Berlin
The Feminists – Köpi (a squat in Kreuzberg) – Berlin
Wye Oak – Deja Fest – Raleigh, NC
Celebration w/ Arbouretum – Scapescape Festival at the Gspot – Baltimore
Scratch Acid – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
Polvo – Kings – Raleigh, NC
Mike Watt – Local 506 – Chapel Hill, NC
A Place To Bury Strangers – Motorco – Durham, NC
Braids w/ Weekend – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn
Birds of Avalon – Nightlight – Chapel Hill, NC

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Halfway to Hell Sale: 50% off all releases this week!

These days, it’s easy to get behind on your record buying. The economy’s in a pinch. Gas prices are through the roof. And let’s face it, records often aren’t the cheapest things in the world. We feel your pain, and for the next week, everything on our online store (http://www.churchkeyrecords.com/store) is 50 percent off. That’s right, half-off every release in the Churchkey catalog — this week only. Just enter the coupon code halfway when you check out and the price of every item in your cart will be cut in half. The discount is good on both physical and digital products, and valid through midnight Eastern time on Friday December 2nd.

We’re proud of the records we’ve released, and we want to give you the chance to own each and every one.

Happy record buying!

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Churchkey at Hopscotch 2011!

The 2011 Hopscotch Music Festival kicks off in less than a week! We’re psyched to have so many Churchkey bands involved. This page is your guide to where you can find Churchkey-related happenings throughout the festival weekend.

You can get live updates from us throughout the festival by following @churchkey on Twitter. You might also be amused by following @stevesjones, @kylecmiller, and @jordanlawrence; all three of us will be at the festival all weekend. If you show up at the right dayparty on Thursday, you might also be able to catch Steve Jones sitting in on bass with some good friends of ours.

Thursday, September 8

  • Spider Bags and Last Year’s Men at The Lincoln Theatre @ 9PM
    • Last Year’s Men opens the show at 9PM, followed by Spider Bags at 10, The Love Language at 11, and The Black Lips at 12:30.
    • This will be the first local performance by the current four-piece Spider Bags lineup. You just might get treated to some new songs you’ve never heard before, and some old songs you haven’t heard in a very long time.
    • Hopscotch wristband required for entry (or $25 at the door, if space available)
  • Hog at the Berkeley Cafe @ 10PM
    • Hog plays the Berkeley at 10, followd by Mouthus and Oxbow. Hog will be freshly back from a northeast tour, so you can catch them in peak form.
    • Hopscotch wristband required for entry (or $25 at the door, if space available)

Friday, September 9

  • Daytime Layabout 2 at Slim’s Downtown @ 1PM
    • We’re helping throw another party with the Layabout House at Slim’s this year, co-sponsored by Nice Price Books, Bull City Burger & Brewery, and Gravity Records.
    • Indoors: Brainbows @1:30, Last Year’s Men @ 2:30, Gross Ghost @ 3:30, Mount Eerie @ 4:30
    • Outdoors: The Wigg Report and Belove Binge alternate sets between indoor sets.
    • There will be some delicious beer on hand from Bull City Burger and Brewery. Probably the first time it’s available in Raleigh!
    • Free dayparty! No Hopscotch credentials required.
  • The Loners at Slim’s Downtown @ 10PM
    • The Loners hit the stage at Slim’s at 10PM, followed by Vivian Girls and Coliseum.
    • Hopscotch wristband required for entry (or $25 at the door, if space available)

Saturday, September 10

  • Hammer No More the Fingers outside the Lincoln Theatre @ 2PM
    • HNMTF plays the “Rosebuds & Friends” dayparty in the parking lot outside of the Lincoln Theatre, along with Tonk, The Big Picture, Shirlette & the Dynamite Brothers, Youth Lagoon, Ben Sollee, and The Rosebuds.
    • Free dayparty! No Hopscotch credentials required.
  • Free Electric State at White Collar Crime @ 3PM
    • Free Electric State represents Durham’s own WXDU at the College Radio Showcase at White Collar Crime. They will be joined by Nests, The Bronzed Chorus, and Whatever Brains.
    • Free dayparty! No Hopscotch credentials required.
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Churchkey co-sponsoring Hopscotch day party, Last Year’s Men to perform

Craig Powell’s Layabout in West Durham has become the city’s (and most of the Triangle’s) go to place for great house shows. With a seemingly unending set of indie rock contacts, Powell has turned his home into a way station for oddball out-of-towners in need of a date and a place for local garage acts of all colors to let loose outside of the typical club setting.

For the second year running, Powell brings that magic to Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival. Headlined by far-flung Portland experimentalist Mount Eerie and raucous Churchkey garage act Last Year’s Men, Daytime Layabout 2, sponsored by Churchkey Records, Nice Price Books, Bull City Burger & Brewery and Gravity Records, takes over Slim’s Downtown Distillery on Sept. 9 for a free Hopscotch day party. Entertainment will be split onto two stages. Last Year’s Men and Mount Eerie will join Gross Ghost and Brainbows inside, while Durham mainstays The Wigg Report and Beloved Binge will alternate sets out on the patio.

The festivities get going at 1 p.m. and will wrap up at 5:30 p.m., just in time for Hopscotch ticket holders to scoot on over to City Plaza for Guided By Voices’ farewell concert. No Hopscotch credentials are required to attend the dayparty. Event details below:

Craig Powell and the Layabout present: Daytime Layabout 2

Sponsored by Churchkey Records, Nice Price Books, Bull City Burger & Brewery, and Gravity Records.

Friday, Sept. 9 @ Slim’s Downtown Distillery

1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

FREE – No Hopscotch credentials required

With Last Year’s Men, Mount Eerie, Gross Ghost, Brainbows, The Wigg Report, Beloved Binge

Inside schedule:

1:30 – Brainbows
2:30 – Last Year’s Men
3:30 – Gross Ghost
4:30 – Mount Eerie

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The Evangelist 4/13 — Churchkey Live Update

Hammer No More The Fingers start another jaunt through the UK this weekend. Tonight they’ll bring their muscular rock bounce to the Old Blue Last in London, and they’ll finish out the weekend with appearances in Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Pontefract. They’ll be rocking across the pond for the rest of the month in support of their new album Black Shark, finishing up in Wakefield on April 30. You can check out the band’s touring schedule here. Please make sure to let any friends you have across the way know the band’s coming through.

Monday, Last Year’s Men will be bringing their infectious garage tantrums to Durham’s Duke Coffeehouse for an early work-week rager. They’ll fill the opening slot for Hunx and his Punx and Shannon and the Clams, Show gets going at 9 p.m. and costs $10.

 

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The Evangelist 3/30 – Churchkey Live Update

Big happenings this week at Churchkey. Friday, Hammer No More The Fingers unveil their sophomore full-length Black Shark with a release party at Durham’s Motorco Music Hall. The trio explodes in well-controlled bursts of tenacious energy with muscular bass lines and riffs that prickle with amazing texture. They’ll be joined at the show by rambunctious and entertaining indie folk band Midtown Dickens and hip-hop/rock act LiLa. The $10 show gets started at 9 p.m. with Midtown Dickens. Come on out and grab your copy of the new album and take part in all the fun!

Also on tap from Churchkey this week — Last Year’s Men play shows in New York and Ohio. Tonight they hit the Bug Jar in Rochester, and then they head to Now That’s Class in Cleveland for a Friday night performance.

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Say hello to Hog

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We’d like to take a minute this morning to officially extend a warm welcome to some old friends.

Say hello to Hog.

Hog’s debut EP Archetypes is available now in the Churchkey Records online store.

The metal cliche of rising from one demise to another triumph doesn’t interest any of the members of Durham’s large, lumbering Hog. Hog was born made of three members (guitarist Rich James, bassist Ryland Fishel, and drummer Noah Kessler) of Tooth, the metal juggernaut that for two years slayed NC clubs with a fast metal attack that threw out big, beefy riffs with razor-sharp accuracy. Hog rounded out its lineup by adding guitarist Alec Ferrell before heading to the studio to record its debut EP.

Archetypes, produced by Phillip Cope of Kylesa, will be in stores May 17th via Churchkey Records. As with Kylesa, Hog’s songs meander down gloriously tangled riffs and bass lines that are as explosive as they are intricate. The sludge here doesn’t bubble up slowly from the ground, it explodes outward in continuous bursts like an erupting volcano. They manage to sustain this force, creating elongated jams that never lose their forceful grip.

Hog aren’t risen from the ashes because they never burned down what made their previous work great. Smartly, they choose to build on it, refining the tools at their disposal and creating a new style all their own. Neither forsaking nor dwelling on what made their prior band great, they have built a sound that respects its heritage and harnesses it to reach even loftier heights.

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The Evangelist 3/10 – Churchkey Live Update

Hard hitting garage rock duo The Loners play a hometown show at Raleigh’s Tir Na Nog tonight. The band’s tough, chugging riffs and tenacious rhythms will be paired with the retro pop of the Huguenots. It’s a free show, part of the Local Beer, Local Band series, and, as always, there will be great specials on the local brews the bar has on tap.

Free Electric State bare their arena-sized shoegaze riffs in support of a band with sound that’s actually as large as their own. The band opens up for A Place To Bury Strangers at Motorco Music Hall. The $12 show gets going at 9:30 p.m. Hooray For Earth plays in the middle of this three-band bill.

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The Evangelist 2/22 – Churchkey Live Update

Saturday Last Year’s Men help one of Durham’s finest celebrate five years in business. The trio will lend their spunky rock attack to the celebration for Bull City Records at Fullsteam Brewery. Everyone here at Churchkey owes at least a few of our favorite records to the always fantastic advice of store owner Chaz Martenstein, so get out and help the Men and a bill that includes Phil and Brad Cook of Megafaun and Midtown Dickens among others show the man what he means to his city. The event costs $10 and gets going at 7 p.m. See you there!

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The Evangelist 2/15 – Churchkey Live Update

This Sunday Triangle rock fans get a free chance to check out two of their finest. Spider Bags, who released a 7-inch of their delightfully dingy garage rock on Churchkey Records last fall, will hit Carrboro, N.C. alongside Wesley Wolfe. Wolfe’s exquisitely neurotic musings parlay well over his band’s powerful riff rock. The show gets going at 6 p.m., so get on out and put great cap on your weekend.

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The Evangelist 2/9 – Churchkey Live Update

Thursday, Hammer No More the Fingers‘ electric guitar player Joe Hall plays a solo set at Durham’s Motorco Music Hall. Off-kilter and thrilling rock band Americans in France also plays. The free show starts at 9 p.m.

Saturday, Free Electric State bring their frenzied, shoegazing rock hooks out of its recording hiatus to back up the pop-rocking I Was Totally Destroying It. Also on tap at Durham’s Motorco Music Hall are Charlotte’s sleek and powerful Sammies and Wesley Wolfe, whose nervy rock angst will appeal to the Weezer fan in anyone. It’s been a bit since FES has been out on the stage, so this welcome return should prove a great set. The starts at 9 p.m. and costs $5.