- Photo by Lissa Gotwals
- Ready: David Karsten Daniels, Jozeemo and Aimee Argote
It's not difficult to imagine the last two years in Triangle music as some sort of conceivably interminable hump. It is difficult, though, to imagine (at least correctly) what's over the crest. For a music scene that's dealt with nihilistic naysayers for the better part of this millennium, 2005 and 2006 certainly felt good. Consider the accomplishments: The Nein coalesced into a great, angular rock band; Portastatic released three fantastic albums; Annuals recorded "Brother," one of the best rock songs of this decade; Chris Stamey poked his head from his studio to release two records; Little Brother signed a record deal with Atlantic Records that's consistently put them between rocks and hard places; two dozen bands released strong albums on local labels. If rising action is indicative of future developments, music in the Triangle could immediately claim a new apogee both sustained and spectacular.
If you need a case study, look no further than Roman Candle, the Chapel Hill-via-Wilkesboro rock band who released its second album, The Wee Hours Revue, on V2, one of the biggest independent labels in America. The bulk of the album was reworked songs from the band's debut, Says Pop, but the result was dropped from Hollywood Records and prevented from release by three years of contractual stalemates and snags. It finally hit shelves in August to unanimous critical acclaim. It didn't approach its sales potential, though, and one has to believe that potential is nearly infinite with Roman Candle. They've peaked on the hump and are—finally—looking forward.
And then there's Jozeemo, a champion East Durham freestyler who spent 2005 in a federal prison in West Virginia after being implicated in Bull City gang violence. Two months before he was released, he told me he had spent most of his two years reflecting on the time he had lost with his children and in pursuing a rap career. Now, living in his mother's house near N.C. Central, Jozeemo is writing and recording feverishly, preparing his debut LP for Hall of Justus Music Group, the cadre that includes Little Brother, L.E.G.A.C.Y. and The Away Team. Jozeemo feels like he's finally at the verge of something important.
He's not alone: Des Ark has a split with Ben Davis due on Lovitt Records in February, and Aimee Argote's local sets, no matter the backing band or absence of one, have been consistently breathtaking. Bellafea's first full-length is said to even have its producer, Brian Paulson, flush with excitement. The Trekky Records crew continues to expand as a collective of tireless resourcefulness and enthusiasm, and the newly minted 8th House Records calls Snatches of Pink and Two Dollar Pistols its own. Goner's second LP takes their first record's pop craft and paints it in fluorescence, while Schooner, Fin Fang Foom, Dan Bryk, pulsoptional, Kapow Music, North Elementary and a dozen others are all imminent for next year. Maybe the other side of the crest is epitomized by David Karsten Daniels, whose Sharp Teeth, set for release on England's Fat Cat Records in February, has a legitimate chance to be the buzz of first-quarter indie rock. It's a treasure, gripping, potent and intense. It's a lot to look forward to, and that's an entirely general statement.