Best new music blogger 

click to enlarge newmusicblogger-lorenacupcake2-600.jpg

Michael Adkins

Lorena Cupcake at storebrandsoda.com

@lorenacupcake

Lorena Cupcake, 28, founded Store Brand Soda with the even more pseudonymous Hotdish Ramone in August 2014, inspired by the combo of music calendar and blog at garage-rock clearinghouse Victim of Time. Friendly, playful, and no-bullshit, Cupcake's posts use a dirt-under-the-fingernails familiarity with Chicago underground rock to convey unpretentious, all-aboard enthusiasm rather than clubhouse exclusivity: "Dem Platinum Boys sound like the kind of old school butt rock that you listen to on a shitty radio in your back yard while drinking Miller Lite in a kiddie pool," to quote a recent example. Periodic "Show Horoscope" roundups categorize concerts according to imagined subtypes of fan ("You're a Baby Teen," "For the Basement Dweller," "You Just Wanna Fucking Party"), but it's basically all about dirty weirdos banging on guitars. "I spend hours a week sifting through show listings, writing up show previews, boosting and promoting the work of my friends. I know that's seen as inherently less valuable than picking up a bass and being in a band," Cupcake says. "I strongly believe that people who are willing to do behind-the-scenes work are part of what makes the scene work, and I'm totally fine with most of what I do being out of the spotlight." Cupcake's best-traveled post so far, an April essay subtitled "Building Community & Ending Harassment in Punk," tells a tale of getting creeped on and berated by a drunk drummer at a show in Austin, then resolves into a long and thoughtful discussion of how to deal with the "missing stair" personalities that can make music scenes unsafe. And the talk comes with plenty of walk: despite working full-time at a bank, Cupcake also volunteers for nascent arts nonprofit Pure Joy, which aims to open an all-ages, LGBT-inclusive, wheelchair-­accessible punk venue in Chicago.

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