Editor’s note: In this crazy year devoid of local shows, discovering new favorites hasn’t been easy. We asked a few friends, colleagues and scene contributors for some of the Chicago-area bands who cut through the noise and truly won them over in 2020. Today, Andy King, founder and podcast host at AUX Audio podcast network and AUX Populi, shares two of his discoveries from this year.
March 8th was the last time I recorded an in-person interview for my podcast AUX Populi. It was with John, Chris, Aidan, and Robbie from the band Today’s Trade. They had just released their EP “Revisited”, a remaster of previously released tracks and fan favorites.
A week later, everything had changed. The world was finally coming to grips with the reality of a global pandemic. Quarantines swept through the country, locking everyone in place for the foreseeable future. And I … was no longer in the mood for recording podcasts.
So I took a little break.
Over a month later, I began recording remotely. From late April to late July, I had the chance to interview Ryan from Marina City, Dean from August Hotel (promoting his solo work), Parker from Ember Oceans, Kristen & Matt from Like Language, Phillip-Michael Scales, Grant Milliren, and Kylie and Zack from The Mild West. Pandemic-shaped roadblocks had been lifted by video calls, and I could continue doing what I had loved.
And yet, I felt exhausted. Personally and professionally. Eventually I had to admit to myself that my heart, sadly, was no longer in the show.
So for the sake of my mental health, I took a much longer break.
Cut to December, where I’ve started recording again. It’s December 13th, and I’m talking to Michael, Matt, Matt, and Robbie from the band Nora Marks. They’ve just released their single “Friction (But You Still Did)”, a remaster of an old song.
It’s in this moment I realize that time finally feels bookended.
It will come as no surprise when I say that this was not the year I had planned. I cannot sit here and tell you in earnest that I had much of a connection to the Chicago music scene. I cannot tell you about the countless local bands and musicians I sought out and discovered by virtue of hosting an arts interview podcast. I can barely name some of my favorite tracks, EPs, and albums released this year.
But what I can tell you is that you take the nice moments where you can. For me personally, that includes good conversations with good people. That is what I found in Today’s Trade and Nora Marks. Two bands tied together by their humanity, a love for creating music, and the inexplicable cosmic string of two different men named Robbie.
For more on both bands, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and most streaming services. To get to know them as personally as I did, you can listen to their episodes of AUX Populi here: https://www.auxchicago.com/auxpopuli/todays-trade