Album of the Year - Nobody
2009 was the Year of the Reunion, not of the Release. Faith No More, The Jesus Lizard, Far, and Sunny Day Real Estate dusted themselves off and kicked some ass (Hum, where are you?). Even Lee Ving of Fear got back on the road this year. I believe Far was the only one inspired to return to the recording studio so far. The other bands, I don't know. Maybe they needed to make sure they could still play together without killing each other first.
Lots of albums I was anticipating this year didn't get to meet 2009. Deftones' bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma in late 2008, and Eros, the album that they had been working on appears to have been shelved indefinitely. The Dillinger Escape Plan toured a lot, then finished Option Paralysis which will be released in March 2010. Tub Ring had a ton of studio updates and showed off artwork so fans could guess song titles, but as far as I'm aware, didn't finish the album yet. I'm pretty sure they've recorded a thousand songs by now, so I think we're just waiting for the final touches. Michelle Branch, fresh off the Wreckers' breakup, recorded her solo album Everything Comes and Goes earlier in the year and even released a single over the summer, but then saw Warner Bros. constantly push back the full-length release date. Right now, they're saying January 2010, but I'm not holding my breath.
Mastodon put out Crack the Skye which I saw them perform live in its entirety. I enjoyed it, but it didn't grab me by the balls like their earlier stuff did. Also at that show was Converge who played some of their new brutal stuff. I enjoyed that as well, but never picked up Axe to Fall. Lightning Bolt, another band I saw live, put out a new album (Earthly Delights) that I never bought either. My friend Ryan wouldn't stop talking about Baroness' Blue Record, but I didn't give it much of a chance. I was curious about Them Crooked Vultures, but apparently wasn't curious enough. Every Time I Die put out New Junk Aesthetic which took me a while to fully get into. Some of the songs are really good, and some are just eh. I still love the band (most of all, their sense of humor), but I want them to push their limits a little more. While I really liked their drummer, his leaving the group may be that opportunity to approach their songs differently. You already know what I've had to say about Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted.
By the time December came along I realized that I still didn't have an album of the year and now that it's the end of the year, I'm still not giving out the honor. Pretty much all I got out of 2009 was 50 million new pop songs on the radio and whatever crazy instrumental shit was coming up on Pandora for me. That's really where most of my ear attention went. That and a few classic rock records. The only confident album recommendations I can give this year are releases by friends of mine. Torrential Downpour put out their self-titled debut LP over the summer and it's sick. Very heavy and very intense. Another great one is Dogs of Winter's From Soil to Shale. Solid rock with odd time signatures and duel vocals. Snap into it!
Song of the Year - "Elle Panique" - Olivia Ruiz
I fucking love this song. I first saw the video for it on one of the French-speaking music channels when I was visiting Montreal, and I could not get it out of my head for days. The vocals are playful and the hook is super catchy, despite the fact that I don't speak French. The video is quirky, colorful, and makes me smile. The instrumentation is grand and focused all at the same time. The beat is simple but doesn't pound your head like most of the stuff on the American charts. The song is about panic and anxiety, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. It is perfect pop with a touch of dissonance. I only wish it were longer like the live version.
When I got back to the US, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake by not seeking out the album while in Quebec. I needed to hear it every day, but playing it on YouTube on my mobile phone while driving was not cutting it. The single and LP was not for sale in the US unless I wanted to pay a lot to have it imported from France. It was not available on iTunes or Amazon, nor could I access it on the French versions of the sites (believe me, I tried). I exhausted the reasonable legal methods of purchasing music, so ultimately, I had to acquire a copy of the track through a friend in France. It's a real shame that this song is not accessible in the United States, and I may be doing it a disservice by stealing it (technically), but I hope this illustrious Beauty and the RoBeast Song of the Year Award makes it OK.
Honorable Mentions (for the most part, ignore the videos):
Kid Cudi - "Day 'n' Nite (Crookers' Remix)"
Michelle Branch - "This Way"
Pink - "Please Don't Leave Me"
Every Time I Die - "The Marvelous Slut"
Lady Gaga - "Paparazzi (Acoustic Live)"
Psychostick - "Caffeine"
Kelly Clarkson - "Long Shot"
Video of the Year - "Passing Stones' **** Me Up" - StSanders
StSanders has really stepped up his game since the Shreds series. Not only is he still dedicated to taking the piss out of the guitar rock establishment, he's now putting absurd lyrics and a beat into the mix to create a total mock-rock package. It's amazing how well the song works with the silly Rolling Stones video while at the same time sounding nothing like it. It's the multidimensional parody model OF THE FUTURE and I certainly welcome the trend. He's been quiet since putting out this video, but I really hope he continues working with full songs. I can't embed it [whining], so here it is, if you haven't yet experienced it.
That's all for now!