Cover art for 2020 releases by Cafe Racer, Stuck, and the Knees

Two members of local band Clearance, guitarist Kevin Fairbairn and bassist Greg Obis, launched Born Yesterday Records in 2018, but it wasn’t till 2020 that the label really established a strong foothold. Born Yesterday works with artists from Chicago, of course, but also looks for talent further from home: this past fall, it released a hypnotic EP from Los Angeles rockers Dummy and an anxious LP by Massachusetts punks Landowner. Where the label really showed its colors, though, was with a terrific streak of local rock releases that began in April with Change Is Bad, a rangy, weather-beaten postpunk LP from Obis’s new band Stuck. Born Yesterday followed it in May with the tantalizingly dreamy third full-length from psych unit Cafe Racer, Shadow Talk, and in August with the high-wire postpunk of the Knees’ debut EP, Posture. Born Yesterday was hardly the only operation to release marvelous Chicago underground rock in 2020, but its efforts didn’t get nearly as much attention as, say, Sooper Records’ banner year or Brooklyn-based Fire Talk’s one-two punch by Deeper and Dehd. Fairbairn and Obis have established their label as a crucial voice in Chicago rock, and their 2021 should be even better.