The power pop/punk "cuddle-core" outfit Dear Nora formed around Katy Davidson (vocals/guitar), Ryan Wise (bass), and Marianna Ritchey (drums). All three bandmembers had gone to college together at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where they had each played in various bands, including the Navins, Ring of Seventeen, and Junction City. Wise, Ritchey, and local Portland musician Jake Longstreth were also previously members of a group called Wolf Colonel, and Ritchey and Davidson were freshman-year roommates. They came together via a mutual love of short, guitar-driven songs and sweet girl group-inspired harmonies, as well as an appreciation for all types of '60s pop music.
Group leader Davidson had started playing guitar in high school in her hometown in Arizona and began writing songs and singing by 1996. A few years later, in the summer of 1999, she formed Dear Nora, named after a college music professor who served as an inspiration to the group. Dear Nora initially recorded a few self-released cassettes before they issued a self-titled 7" single on the fine Portland indie pop label Magic Marker Records. This release was followed by another Magic Marker release, an eight-song all-acoustic EP, Dreaming Out Loud, which featured songs written and performed by Davidson during a 24-hour time period.
In 2001 Dear Nora finally issued a debut album, We'll Have a Time, which was produced by the Aislers Set's Amy Linton (actually, it was recorded in Linton's basement). The album featured their friend Longstreth on guitar (he also painted the album's cover art). We'll Have a Time was subsequently released in 2002 in Japan on WAH! Records and featured all the songs from the Dreaming Out Loud EP as bonus tracks. Davidson eventually relocated to San Francisco, where she began performing at solo shows. An EP entitled The New Year was released in 2002 after the group's first tour of Japan.
With the group reduced to Davidson, things got quieter and more introspective on 2004's Mountain Rock and more experimental on the project's third full-length, 2006's There Is No Home. Two years later, Magic Marker released the collection Three States: Rarities 1997-2007.
Davidson relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 and collaborated with Ritchey on the album Just as God Made Us, put out under the name Lloyd and Michael by States Rights Records in 2008. She then began recording under the solo moniker Key Losers. That project's full-length debut, California Lite, was produced by Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie and issued in 2011 via his label, P.W. Elverum & Sun. An album of covers of Davidson's songs — including Dear Nora tunes — was released in 2012. Paying tribute were acts such as Mount Eerie, Iji (Zach Burba), and Mega Bog (Erin Birgy). ~ Bryan Thomas