Here in the marketing team our fingers are crossed that 2022 brings us a bit closer to normalcy. With 2021 coming to an end this week we thought it’d be nice to share with you what got us through the past 365 days.
Blake Argotsinger – Marketing Manager
I’ll first say that as I reviewed my media history from this last year it became clear that there was SO MUCH good media that it’s nearly impossible to select just one or two top favorites. I’m going to hone in on the new music that caught my fancy and hope I don’t stretch the limits of this assignment too much. Many of my favorite artists took opportunities aside from touring to create new work and now I can’t wait to see these groups perform live.
The music that stood out to me most this last year was from some of my longtime favorite bands, some of which hadn’t produced new music for some time. So here are the bands that make up the musical bucket of my best of 2021.
Kings of Convenience – Rocky Trails The top comment on their music video perhaps says it best, “when the world need them most, they returned.” I couldn’t agree more. This is the first song the Norwegian duo has released in 12 years. And they did it with a beautiful, continuous shot music video. You can learn more about that incredibly lovely Spanish artist studio featured in the video here.
Fruit Bats – Today
Another longtime favorite band led by Eric D. Johnson. He took his downtime in 2020 to cover the song Today from the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1993 album Siamese Dream. For me it was a piece of art that came at the exact time I needed it and made me feel all the feels. You can listen to the full album here on Spotify.
To round out my eclectic taste in music I’m going to quickly list off these gems without much commentary. If you want to geek out about any of on the list, I’m happy to do so any time!
Quantic and Nidia Góngora – Adiós Chacón A favorite English producer with excellent taste in highlighting cumbia sounds of Columbia.
Woods – Strange to Explain Recommended for driving to, up or down the coast. It vibes even more if you have a longboard strapped to your roof ready for a session in the water. Again, listen to the full album!
Surf Zombies – In Color This is my all-time favorite instrumental surf rock band from Iowa. It’s impossible to stay still (or stay in a bad mood!) when listening.
La Femme – Paradigmes Electro, French-pop that you’ll hear at every one of my garage dance parties. This whole album’s great. And this release party? Invite me to the next one please, La Femme!
Dan Olbrych – Design and Content Coordinator
Making this list was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I could write about all this stuff for much longer than either of us have time for. So, I’ll be quick about it.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League – Although Zack was credited as the director of “Justice League” (2017), he was not. You can learn all about here, it’s pretty sad and quite the drama. I was elated when HBO Max announced the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. I even scheduled an ‘out of office’ for the premiere on my calendar. Yeah…
At four hours long, it’s quite a time commitment, but if you enjoyed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” then you should feel right at home. Now the music, visuals and tone is consistent throughout the three films. I love it like I love eating too many nachos. Watching it left me scratching my head though, puzzled by some Warner Bros. executives decision to cut so much good material just to keep the theatrical run time at 2 hours, including credits. Ugh.
Creeper – Horror punks Creeper released their much-anticipated sophomore album mid-pandemic, and you know how that worked out. Not to be lost to the chaos Creeper released “American Noir” about a year later in July of 2021. And they’ve never sounded better. This band was essential to my happiness these past 2 years. So rather than a single out their 2021 release, I’m just saying Creeper is my band of 2021.
Check out some of my personal favorite tracks
Or, just listen to all of it.
Universal Audio Apollo Twin – This past year I set out to stay as positive as possible and for me that goes hand and hand with being creative. The Apollo Twin helped me do just that and with a bandmate that lives in Alaska.
Plug in your favorite guitar, piano or microphone and run it through a plethora of plugins ranging from the Avalon VT-737 to an Ampeg SVT-VR bass rig. I’m excited to be able to share the music we’ve been working on, and the Apollo Twin has been essential to my creative process during these strange days.
Surprise: Guardians of the Galaxy
After the letdown that was “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” I was pretty comfortable saying I’m done with the franchise. Enter a video game in late 2021 that I was uninterested in but ended up picking it up thanks to an extremely enticing Black Friday price point. And now I have no problem admitting that I was wrong, or their marketing was terrible… but Guardians is my game of the year.
Abbey Aronica – Marketing Coordinator
Pig – For the first time since the pandemic began, we decided to go out to the movies to see “Pig” on a whim over the summer and it did not disappoint. The main character Robin (played by Nicholas Cage) plays a reclusive truffle hunter living alone in the Oregon wilderness that must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved, foraging pig after she is kidnapped. The scenery is beyond beautiful (I mean, duh, it’s Oregon!) and the film is both breaks and warms your heart. This movie is action-packed, yet also strangely soothing & meditative. I highly recommend this film, but strongly suggest breaking out the Kleenex as well.
Succession – I know, this show first aired in 2018 – HOWEVER, I still need to include it because I just started it last month and Season 3 was just released so I think that counts – right? This show is centered around a family that owns an international media conglomerate and they are all constantly vying for more control in the company. Most of the characters aren’t particularly likeable, but the drama this show provides is just too good. I also think this show accurately depicts what overwhelming amounts of wealth and greed can do to a person. This show has so many twists and turns and has captivated me from the start.
Arlo Parks “Collapsed in Sunbeams” – Arlo Parks is a singer-songwriter and poet based out of the UK. When she released her album “Collapsed in Sunbeams” in early 2021, I was really stunned by how emotionally charged her songs were. The lyricism in this album is a pure work of art that cuts straight to your core, and at the time, provided me with a little extra light. Her inspirations include musicians like Phoebe Bridgers & Jimi Hendrix, but also authors like Sylvia Plath. Do yourself a favor and check Arlo out as she continues to gain recognition for her incredible talents.
Rich Hobby – Marketing Director
Favorite Moment: The return of people and music to the Hult Center
While we are still navigating new things every day, 2021 did see the return of patrons to the venue, and artists and crews to our stages. The most memorable moment so far came during our debut performance of our 10×10 series with guitar phenom and all-around incredible musician, Ron Artis II. With only 50 people in the audience it was truly magical to see him effortlessly hypnotize the entire room with his incredible voice and skill, creating beautiful and percussive melodies with only an acoustic guitar. The sweetest moment of all was when his three daughters also took to the stage to dance and celebrate the moment, and I was lucky to snap a few photos to capture the moment.
Favorite Media Moment – Rainbow (S02E05 Ted Lasso)
Follow along my entries on this blog long enough and you’ll be sure to pick up an authentic love for the UK, which is where most of my family resides. Distance is no stranger to any of us, but being forcefully apart for so long really sunk in this year. While others flocked to the stellar comedy hit series, Ted Lasso, for the heart warming positivity, I was able to get a second serving of much needed doses of British wit and charm to soothe my growing homesickness. Of all the amazing episodes of Season 2, it was the rom-com infused wink of “Rainbow”, with the silly romantic run montage of Roy Kent returning to the pitch that brought the silliest grin to my face and perhaps a tear or two of joy as well upon the words:
“You had me at Coach.”
Three Favorite Albums/Releases
I tried to come up with a disappointment, but outside of the premature cancelling of Cowboy Bebop (John Cho was amazing!), I really didn’t have a bone to pick with much. So, I’ll just include short words on three albums/releases that dominated the scrappy yet eclectic college radio station that lives in my mind:
Phoenix – Big Red Machine
I am and will continue to always be a sucker for super groups, and this indie/folk powerhouse features collaborations from Robin Pecknold, Anais Mitchel (she also wrote a small musical called HADESTOWN!), and Taylor Swift. This only thing to not like is there are only 4 songs on the EP.
Inner Symphonies – Hania Rani & Dobrawa Czocher
I’m clearly a fanboy for all things created by pianist/composer Hania Rani as I spent 2021 completing a collection of all her releases. I was overjoyed to get a late year bonus in a new project with celloist Dobrawa Czocher on Inner Symphonies which is a gorgeous collection of ethereal compositions of piano and cello that are pulsing with life and beauty throughout.
Gold Diggers Sound – Leon Bridges
Sweet holy moly does this album contain some feels! Leon Bridges should be mandatory staple for any lovers of soulful R&B and his newest release with break and mend your heart multiple times. Ultimate track for me has to go to the drastically heart wrenching. “Why Don’t You Touch Me”.