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Local Column

Heimerman: Music has kept the 'band' together

Christopher Heimerman
Christopher Heimerman

I quit fantasy sports. Not at this moment. Past tense. Like, “I quitted,” as my 5-year-old might say, about a year ago.

My favorite thing about fantasy sports, beyond the obvious fact that they deal with sports, is that they’ve been a nice way to “keep the band together” over the years. By the band, I mean my longtime friends – a couple of guys I’ve known since childhood, a few from high school and many more from my college years.

Then my wife and I went and had kids, and I didn’t have the time to keep playing. And when I did, I found time spent tracking fantasy stats was cutting into time I would have like to spend watching my reality teams – my beloved Milwaukee Brewers, in particular.

One binding agent of friendships I’ll never give up, however, is music. Former Sauk Valley media editor Jeff Rogers, who’s now running the Illinois Press Association foundation, and former SVM digital editor Lucas Pauley, and I compare notes more or less daily on bands we’re listening to.

I take those notes and discover bands on the regular I otherwise never would have heard of. Then I pass my thoughts along to all those old buddies of mine. The resulting conversations are a bit more profound than talking about which running back they’re thinking about flexing in their fantasy football matchup.

For a few years now, Jeff, Lucas and I have been using all those notes, all that music, all the feelings it’s evoked, and built our own Best Album of the Year lists. Jeff listens to about 600 albums each year (!!). I usually listen to about 100 by Dec. 1, at which point I panic and, as I’ve done since I was in high school, cram for the final.

This year in music – indie music, especially – had a couple of themes. Women have a bigger hand, er, voice, in the industry than ever before – from the supergroup boygenius to many prognosticators’ favorites, rapper Cardi B. My favorite female artist is Mitski, who every two years releases an album I can’t get enough of.

Another common thread was albums being re-recorded or reissued. Car Seat Headrest (better known as Will Toledo, one of my favorite bright young rockers) and Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s both had reissued I’ve listened to more than a few times this year.

You’ve probably seen such best-of lists from publications I admit are better-suited to report. You know: Rolling Stone, SPIN and if you’re really pretentious, Pitchfork.

So yeah, our idea isn’t novel. But it’s personal. Admittedly, it’s keeping us together as we get older and life lends toward us growing apart. However, I’ve met a lot of people in cyberspace over the years, and renewed past acquaintances, via my music reviews.

In the Thursday edition of Sauk Valley Media’s Daily Gazette (Sterling) and Dixon Telegraph, Jeff’s and my lists will appear, in all their music-snobby glory, and Lucas’ will likely run next week. You’ll also be able to read them online at saukvalley.com.

Give them a look. You probably have some time off coming, right? Let us know which albums you also loved, which ones were missing on our lists. Because we don’t stop listening to music when we file our lists (although it’s, admittedly, a relief). Actually, part of the fun for me is when I discover new artists and delve back into their catalogues.

So sure, we might think we know what we’re talking about, but odds are you have some recommendations for us. That’s what keeps this so fun. It’s why I can’t quit this music review masquerading thing.

• Christopher Heimerman is the editor at the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at cheimerman@shawmedia.com.

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