Though this isn't a comprehensive list of songs released by local musicians that I'll certainly keep playing next year, it is meant to represent some of the variety and vitality of what happened musically in the Triangle in 2014. From Hanz' ability to turn bedlam into beats or Brett Harris' preternatural ease with a melody, these 25 songs are bound to stay in rotation. —Grayson Haver Currin
Backsliders, "Forever and Ever"
Body Games, "Sunny Day"
Chatham County Line, "Sixteen Years"
Corrosion of Conformity, "The Nectar"
Davidians, "Night Terrors"
Demon Eye, "Adversary"
Eric + Erica, "Side Pony"
Flesh Wounds, "Smoking Crack with My Friend Jeff"
Alice Gerrard, "Follow the Music"
Skylar Gudasz, "Dream Lover"
Brett Harris, "Out of the Blue"
Hiss Golden Messenger, "Saturday's Song"
Horseback, "Chanting out the Low Shadow"
King Mez, "Morris"
Last Year's Men, "By the Way"
Mountain Goats, "Shot in the Dark"
No Love, "S.C.A.B."
Porter Robinson, "Sad Machine"
See Gulls, "Don't Write Me Love Songs"
Sylvan Esso, "Wolf"
The Tender Fruit, "Tried My Best"
Whatever Brains, "UVOD"
As we enter 2015, consider these questions about bands, venues and spectacles in the Triangle's music scene. We'll do our best to answer them in these pages during the coming months.
1. Will The Ritz in Raleigh ever open? And when it does, how many new shows can the wide reach of Live Nation bring to the Triangle without draining rooms like Cat's Cradle, Lincoln Theatre and Motorco?
2. New records appear to be on the horizon for Mount Moriah, Hiss Golden Messenger, Skylar Gudasz, Brett Harris, Des Ark, Kooley High, American Aquarium, The Old Ceremony, Shirlette Ammons, Bandages, Some Army and many more. Which ones will rule? Will we finally get that new Bowerbirds album some of you crowdfunded?
3. After success with Farm Aid, Band Together, the revitalized Big Shindig and rampant talk by Raleigh officials for adding new uses to the acreage of Walnut Creek Amphitheater, can the venue become something more than a greyfield for most of the year?
4. Will any young Triangle rapper move beyond assorted mixtapes, singles, EPs and social media blitzes to emerge with a fully realized and compelling record that escapes a localized niche? Mez? Rapsody? Toon and/or The Real Laww?
5. Merge turned 25 in 2014, celebrated a quarter-century in grand fashion and released several great records, new and archival alike. But it must have been a bittersweet year-plus for the label: The Arcade Fire, Spoon and The Rosebuds have moved on, and Neutral Milk Hotel's reunion appears to be ending without new material. Can they land a new star in this fragmented indie world?
6. After two milestone years, will the Triangle's two biggest music festivals—The Art of Cool, which launched, and Hopscotch, which turned five—turn a profit? And in a market that's growing so much, how long until a major presenter or promoter makes a move either to buy one or start a new alternative?
7. What local band will have the most ridiculous Kickstarter campaign in the New Year?
8. Will Pepper Keenan (again?) suck the life out of the very active and excitable Corrosion of Conformity when he returns to the band in 2015? And just how super will Reed Mullin and Mike Dean's supergroup with Dave Grohl and Corey Taylor really be?
9. Between new music from Steve Gunn and Hiss Golden Messenger and vaunted reissue projects involving Mike Cooper and Lavender Country, Chapel Hill's Paradise of Bachelors has emerged as the rare label able to balance the contemporary with the could-have-been classic. Can they continue to split those duties without splitting their image?10. Just how much money can the North Carolina State Fair lose on bands in Dorton Arena come October? —Grayson Haver Currin