Hoo boy, friends. 2021 was... something. It started off as rough as it gets, with a storming of the capitol and a mass shooting in my home of 5 years here in Boulder, Colorado. Then we got vaccines and for a magical couple of months in the summer, it felt safe to live life almost "normally" again. However, I knew it couldn't last. Soon Delta showed up and the fall was a hot mess of hybrid work, overcommitment, and what felt like stolen time. By the time December rolled around, I wasn't even sure I wanted to write a year end list. I didn't think I'd discovered much or paid enough attention to new releases to write a summary. But even though it's been another very tough year, there were some good moments in my world of music I'd like to highlight.
“We found a thread that we intend to keep pulling on,” say Peter Miller of We Are The Willows and Matt Leavitt of Orchid Eaton. And boy oh boy, I hope they do.
These two Minneapolis musicians have recorded a two song EP, Keep Your Head Up, released today, and I’ve come out of music writing hibernation this year to convince you to take a listen.
Hi reader, welcome to the end of 2020. This is my year in review, where I list my favorite albums and songs from the year, talk about what happened in my life and get a little personal.
To start: I can't believe I've been writing about music now for ten years, one third of my life. In 2010 I joined my college radio station, KWLC at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as a substitute DJ, and then hosted my own show in 2011 and 2012 before graduating. I enjoyed sharing what I was spinning on the air each week so much, I found that I couldn't stop. So I started a Facebook page, then a Tumblr, and finally switched over to this (more official) website.
I moved to Minneapolis in 2012 and jumped in the deep end right away, never looking back. Since then, I've been to more than 400 hundred live shows and probably seen more than 1,000 different bands. Between 2012 and 2016, my life was spent in 7th St Entry, in Triple Rock and The Cedar—and in random people's living rooms every month for intimate and secret Sofar Sounds shows. My constant drive was to see live music and write about it, even if I usually never got paid for it. And as I spent most of my nights in dimly lit rooms with the people who defined what became "home," I became an adult.
Today I found out one my favorite people in the Twin Cities passed away the other week, and I want to share her with you.
Rebecca Marx was a friend and a mentor in the music scene for several years before I moved to Colorado in 2016, and even then, I saw her when I came back over the holidays. We went to shows together, she was my editor at Rift Magazine — my first ever regular, paid music writing gig in my adult life — and heartily celebrated me getting into graduate school for journalism with one of my favorite nights out. She believed in me, supported me, made me laugh so much, and was so honest with me about her own life and its challenges. I loved Rebecca so much, and I know how much she loved the people in her life, including her husband Tony and her kids. I am so upset she's no longer with us but the world — and definitely my world and my career — were changed forever for the better by her being in it.