For all the big shitty things that occurred this year, there were a whole lot of good things that happened, too. Let us not lose sight of the positive small moments of 2016. Here's a list of a bunch of stuff that I liked this year. There's probably a lot of stuff I'm forgetting, and these aren't in any particular order. But let's get positive!
- Piñata Records put out three new and very good records. Red Daughters' LP Dealer came out on 180g vinyl (our first dalliance with "audiophile grade" media). Lutheran Heat released their stellar debut LP Louder From the Other Side. And Southside Desire sneakily put out a 7" of their spooky live staples "Suck Me Dry" and "Party in Postmortem."
- Ahem's EP Just Wanna Be is more wonderful pop-rock. I got to see them live last weekend at Southside Desire's 7" release party and they were excellent.
- Real Numbers' LP Wordless Wonder. The Nums have been making great Flying Nun-esque records for years, and their new one is their best yet.
- Trevor and I are in a new band called Private Interests with Johnny Eggerman (from Mystery Date) and Cameron Soojian. We're a loud fast rock band with often harmonizing guitars a la Thin Lizzy, and it's a lot of fun to play. We've played a lot of shows this year in the Twin Cities and will be heading out of town more and more in 2017. We have an upcoming split 7" with MAMA, an incredible and often sleeveless rock band from Chicago, coming out soon on Piñata. Our first release, a cassette EP called Only For a Moment, came out via our distinguished local colleagues Forged Artifacts.
- I had a wonderful weekend with our new Irish friends DOTT. I've been a fan of their brilliant Weezer x Shirelles pop-rock for a few years and Southside Desire got to book a show with them and Lutheran Heat on a scorching evening in June at a Minneapolis DIY space. I'm definitely eager to go visit them in Galway sooner than later.
- A Tribe Called Quest released a new album on the Friday after the shitty shitty election and it made me feel a little better. Phife sounds great, Jarobi raps and does it well, and Q-Tip runs the show with more panache and cool hats than I ever expected he would in 2016. It's probably my fave album of the year.
- I got a new dog. A black lab named Floyd. I love him.
- My wife Jessica's mobile metal-casting business Pedal to the Metal is really taking off! She brings a small foundry around town, often on her cargo bike, and does small-scale artistic casting, often with public participation. She's done a lot of really cool projects, and I'm really excited for her.
- The Franklin Avenue bridge re-opened, along with the nearby stretch of West River Road which had been blocked by a landslide. There are new bike lanes, which is nice.
- Bernie Sanders inspired a whole lot of young and youngish people to take democratic socialism seriously, and to think about how government and policy can change to help more people and alleviate inequality.
- The Black Lives Matter movement raised awareness of not just police brutality, but systemic racism built into everyday life that often isn't visible to people privileged enough not to experience it. More and more people are becoming "woke", which will be needed in the ideological battles ahead, and also simply to empathize with our common people.
- My two kids are hilarious and cute and learning so much all the time.
- So Cow's Lisa Marie Airplane Tour. More genius out of Galway. Nervous one-man band indie rock from Brian Kelly. His "release party" for this album consisted of picking people up in his car and driving them around listening to the album, which I think is brilliant.
- I got a basketball hoop in my driveway.
- Local journalists David Brauer and Britt Robson started a podcast about two of my favorite subjects to hear people talk about: liberal politics and Minnesota Timberwolves basketball. They've had a lot to complain about in recent weeks.
- Afro Deli on the West Bank was going to close... but then they moved to the East Bank, which is closer to my work. Yum!
- Jessica and I took two terrific trips to New Orleans and New York. We filled our nights with music and our days with cheap and delicious food, and met a lot of great people and saw a lot of good friends.
I hope that you've also had plenty of moments of excitement and growth throughout your year. Thanks for supporting the label, which continues to be a fun endeavor. I love that Trevor and his two-year old son Julian are a common sight at record stores as they keep us in stock around town. I'm looking forward to all the new good little things that will help maintain balance and keep us all going into whatever the new year brings.