A Year of Strange Currencies

Strange Currencies Blog

It was on New Year’s Eve last year that I secured the strangecurrenciesmusic.com domain, and began putting a years-in-the-making plan into action. I never could’ve predicted the backdrop that would end up accompanying the first year of this endeavor, but if I could find a personal silver lining to spending much of 2020 in a state of quarantine – that’s a major if – I suppose it could be that I was afforded a lot of “extra” time to further cultivate my own little corner of the online world.

It wasn’t until late January that I actually got around to publishing my first articles for Strange Currencies. In my so-called Prospectus, I talked about my lack of an “angle” on which to write about music. While I’m not entirely sure that I’ve come any closer to defining an angle in the first year’s worth of articles, I do feel as if Strange Currencies has at least come to take on something of a “voice.”

Whatever that voice is, I’m pleased to see that it has reached an increasingly large audience in (nearly) each successive month of 2020. As of this point, the most-read article on Strange Currencies is the first installment of the A Century of Song project that has come to represent almost the entirety of this site’s new content during the second half of the year. A Century of Song has been a major undertaking – one that will resume its push toward a conclusion in the new year. While each previous installment has been published on an “as I finish it” basis, the remaining entries will be posted on a more predictable schedule, as ACOS returns to its status as just one of many regular Strange Currencies features.

Those other features will be returning in time as well. In the past few months alone – with help from the work of great reissue labels like Numero Group, Soul Jazz, and Mississippi Records – I’ve turned up a number of artists who will be highlighted in future installments of On Distant Stations. The initial feature on The Dovers remains one of this site’s most-read – and, in my opinion, most useful – pieces.

Numero compilations have been my top music obsession of 2020.

The most enjoyable-to-create articles from this year were those from the In the Wilderness feature. These gave an opportunity to bring in some other contributors, while focusing on neglected eras from the careers of great artists. There are several of these in the works for next year: including installments from the likes of Bob Dylan and Curtis Mayfield.

The For the Record feature will return as well – albeit in a reimagined format. While I love the idea of diving into one specific record for a week or two, in order to write a summary of its creation and impact, there are already plenty of other websites offering excellent reviews of both new and classic albums. Look for a new take on album reviews in the coming months.

The Strange Currencies Blog produced some of my favorite pieces from the first year of this website: particularly the article on the origin story of my mid-seventies Empire 6000 speakers. I plan to return to this non-format format as well, and have also considered expanding the “Tastemaker” entries into a new feature for myself, and other Strange Currencies contributors.

Speaking of other contributors, after a year of doing this (mostly) on my own, I’m more than ready to share this platform with other voices. For what it’s worth, I was ready to do so long before now, but the pandemic has put a unique strain on the schedules and availability of several of my most sought-after collaborators. However, I can say with total confidence that the new year will see Strange Currencies branching out into the world of podcasts – the first of which will arrive tomorrow.

It’s been heartening to see Portlanders continue to support our many great record stores during these difficult times.

So, a year into this thing, Strange Currencies maintains a small readership, but one that is both loyal and continually growing with each month. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of that audience, in spite of everything else that has been going on in the world. I hope that your new year is filled with health, happiness, and good music.

Thanks for reading!


  • Matt Ryan

    Matt Ryan founded Strange Currencies Music in January 2020, and remains the site's editor-in-chief. The creator of the "A Century of Song" project and co-host of the "Strange Currencies Podcast," Matt enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has a particular affinity for 60s pop, 90s indie rock, and post-bop jazz. He is an avid collector of vinyl, and a multi-instrumentalist who has played/recorded with several different bands and projects.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *