Feature: Laura Doyle – A Look Back At 2021 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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So, how was your 2021?
A bit rubbish, like everyone else I suppose! 2020 was such a bust in so many ways, so 2021 was all about trying to get things back on track. Thankfully, I’m ending this year with a couple of exciting things in the pipeline. 2022 will hopefully be an improvement again! (For real though, juggling unstable freelance work and health anxiety in a global pandemic should be an Olympic sport.)

What was your best moment?
Getting both jabs (back when two was enough) and being able to have a short holiday away was pretty nice. I’ve never been one for vacations abroad, so a couple days in the Midlands suited me and my anxiety just fine. 

And your worst moment?
Any time I’ve lost my rag this past year. Patience has worn thin because of these extenuating circumstances, but I’m grateful to have people in my life who understand my stress and have been quick to remind me that a lot of my worries are in my head! 

Who was your favourite band/artist this year?
I rediscovered my love for Don Broco this year, thanks to their new album. Technology (2018) is still my favourite record of theirs, but their flare for fun music videos (especially the Bruce Willis MV) is unparalleled. Anything that puts a smile on your face is to be treasured.

Your favourite song of the year?
According to Spotify, it’s Roses by Pet Needs. Quite fitting, since it’s a song about lockdowns written in a lockdown. 

Recommended album?
Pet Needs dropped Fractured Party Music this year, and it’s one of the best debuts I’ve heard from a band in a long time. It sounds great, and there’s an extremely poignant narrative thread that runs throughout.  

Favourite TV show of the year?
I’m pretty sure I said Titans last time I did one of these, but season three did just drop on Netflix and I binged the whole thing in about three days. It’s still great. That being said, I finally watched The Boys this year and was super impressed by it. I’m looking forward to the next instalment for sure, especially since it’s going to feature Jensen Ackles in his first role since the Winchesters said goodbye in Supernatural.

Your favourite film?
It’s not been the best year for films, let’s be real, but at least it has been better than 2020! Thank goodness for home premiere features on streaming services. It was a delight to finally see Black Widow and Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage – and I have yet to see the new Spider-Man which may blow everything away – but I have to say I was probably most excited about Godzilla v Kong. Love me some Kaiju, and I love the current Monsterverse portrayal of Kong. 

Best book you read?
The Man From The Train is pretty fun if you like true crime. It puts together a compelling (albeit circumstantial) case linking a series of axe murders in America that went otherwise unlinked due to the constraints of the time. Makes you really thankful for the progress in DNA identification and whatnot nowadays!

Best podcast?
I started listening to My Brother, My Brother, and Me (An Advice Show for the Modern Era) and it’s now become my go-to for when I need a laugh. The dynamic between the three McElroy brothers is so recognisable if you have siblings yourself: a blend between love, respect, and unbridled fury. 

Favourite venue of the year?
Gigs haven’t been back on the table much for me, so I’d have to shout out the Cluny for continuing the supply of delicious food and an outdoor seating area to minimise the risk from Ms Rona. Plus, I now have confirmation from my vegan pal that you can get something absolutely delicious regardless of dietary requirement!

What was your favourite gig/show of the year?
I went to precisely three gigs this year – the least since I started going to shows over a decade ago – but that doesn’t make the decision any easier. I’d probably have to say Don Broco again, because that was the first gig I went to “proper” (i.e. not for review purposes) since the pandemic. It felt so good to be seeing live music again, and I’m glad it was with a band known for their spectacular live performances. 

Any upcoming artists we should keep an eye out for in 2022?
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, I’m going to say local legend MXYM. Whatever mood you’re in, there’s a MXYM song for that. 

Any predictions for next year?
Probably more chaos, especially if certain folks don’t get their act together, but we’ll all need a brave face and some positive mental attitude. There also might just be one or two new albums that aren’t exclusively about the pandemic!

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