The easiest way to talk about any record label's fifth-anniversary celebration is to admit some surprise that it's actually happening. Indeed, amid the constant reports that the music industry is crashing into itself for a half-dozen interwoven reasons, the survival of labels like Durham's Churchkey is noteworthy. But consider the model: For the last five years, Churchkey—a two-man operation of best buds Kyle Miller and Steve Jones, fellows who still go to shows and rave about bands—has ignored sensible and marketable genre limitations to release records by area bands they simply like. From a roaring Spider Bags seven-inch to a bustling Future Kings of Nowhere EP, from an inaugural slab of Southern metal by Tooth to the smartly penned reflections of Wood Ear, they've captured and released some of the best documents of rock music in the Triangle in the last half-decade. What's more, they've even expanded, beginning an impeccably curated and completely free concert series this year at The Pinhook. Survive and expand.
Tonight, they'll toast with a reprisal of two of their best releases. Wood Ear's Steeple Vultures is a compelling distillation of the area's indie-rock and alt-country pedigrees, while Sunny Side Snuff, the debut LP of Last Year's Men, is about as much sad-eyed fun as you'll have with a short, simple debut. Both Churchkey albums capture a band in finest form, a fairly typical occurrence for a label now 14 releases deep into its catalogue. —Grayson Currin