Dirt Cult Records / Low Culture (Chris Mason)
1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2020? (In order 1-5)
- Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
- All Hits - Men and Their Work
- Sweeping Promises - Hunger for a Way Out
- Run the Jewels - RJT4
- Alien Nosejob - Suddenly Everything is Twice as Loud
2. What band did you discover in 2020 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?
I fully embraced being 40 this year by getting into alt-country (or whatever you wanna call it) That pursuit lead me to Drive-By Truckers, a band I always avoided because of their stupid name. It's refreshing to hear a southern rock band with somewhat lefty politics, even if those politics are a little to the right of my own. Lead singer Patterson Hood apparently moved to Portland a few years ago, and the title track of their most recent album is about being tear gassed by federal agents in downtown Portland -- something I can relate to.
3. How will you remember 2020? (In terms of music)
I had big plans for 2020. My band Low Culture, who has been scattered across the country for several years, played our first shows together since 2017 in Seattle and Portland in January. We pretty much had a midwest tour booked around the Dirtnap Anniversary show in Madison and had plans to do some Bay Area shows. Obviously, none of that happened. Also, even before the pandemic, the year started with a devastating fire at the Apollo lacquer plant that impacted nearly everyone's ability to press records. So I dunno...I guess what I'll remember about 2020 musically is disappointment and stagnation.
4. What can we look forward to from you in 2021?
New LPs are in the works for Neighborhood Brats, Needles/Pins, Bothers, and likely some others. If 2020 has taught me anything, it's that less is more. Gone are the days of releasing up to 20 records a year. I'm pretty content with just releasing a handful a year.
5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2021?
Aside from the above mentioned records (two of which I've heard and absolutely rule), I haven't heard much being announced in the way of new music. I am, however, very curious to see what kind of art is being created in the midst of a pandemic and the biggest civil rights uprising in my lifetime.
6. Trying to put a positive spin on things, what is your favorite development from the global pandemic this year? (Is there a new medium you enjoy, a specific song or collaboration, personal news, etc. that was a bright spot?)
I think there are plenty of bright spots both personally and on a more global scale.
Personally, I think living essentially in lockdown has helped me focus more on my family and has forced me to be a bit more intentional in my efforts to cultivate relationships with friends. Also, though there was certainly a time when I was drinking too much and giving over to despair, I feel like this has given me an opportunity to develop more healthy habits and coping mechanisms.
On a more global scale, I think the pandemic has laid bare the inequalities and injustices present in the systems we're living under. It's hard to ignore unless you've given over the right wing conspiracy theories that allow you to live in an alternate reality that's not grounded in any semblance of truth. It's encouraging to see mass movements spring up around the world to fight for economic equality and against authoritarian police states, and beautiful to see theory turned into practice in the form of mutual aid networks.