As usual, my favorite music of the year has very little in common with the Grammy nominations. The only Album Of The Year nomination I even like is “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King”. I don’t like any of the choices for Record or Song of the year.
Here are my favorite albums of the year:
- Fanfarlo – Reservoir They’re my favorite new group of 2009. Their sound is reminiscent of Arcade Fire, but not as powerful & epic.
- Wilco – Wilco (the album)
- Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
- Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
- The Decemberists – Hazards of love
- Imogen Heap – Elipse She’s simply amazing.
- Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
- Tinariwen – Imidwan (Companions) I can’t get enough of their Desert Blues sound.
- Baaba Maal – Television Very interesting collaborations with Western artists.
- Ashley Maher – Amina Bringing Senegalese sounds to mainstream pop.
Honorable Mention: Dark Was The Night (various artists) – a compilation album featuring new songs by Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, and Spoon, among many others.
And my favorite songs:
- You Never Know – Wilco
- Brother Sport – Animal Collective
- Luna – Fanfarlo
- Lenin – Arcade Fire
- The Wanting Comes in Waves – The Decemberists
- 1901 – Phoenix
- Earth – Imogen Heap
- Why I Am – Dave Matthews Band
- Horchata – Vampire Weekend
- (I Keep On) Rising Up – Mike Doughty
Next year, I’m really looking forward to the new albums by Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Vampire Weekend, and Jonsi’s solo album.
The Grammy awards always pick the same kind of bland, mainstream pop music and shy away from anything different or innovative.
Some of their category selections are bizarre, like nominating “Wilco (the album)” under Americana rather than a more mainstream pop or rock category. Other categories like “Alternative” & “World Music” are dumping grounds for artists with very little in common, while the dozen or so Latin categories are overly specific.
The big category nominations are always “artists” with big labels promoting them. The worst thing about people like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and the others is there’s no innovation and nothing personal in their music. It’s more about fashion, costumes, and carefully choreographed dance moves than the music itself, and their whole image is designed and packaged by their manager and record company, not by the artists themselves. When they play a live show, everything is carefully scored & choreographed to look & sound exactly like their albums & music videos, with nothing spontaneous.
With bands like Arcade Fire, Dave Matthews Band, Wilco and others, their shows are completely spontaneous and they never play a song the same way twice. Their live recordings are collector’s items and fans have favorite shows or performances because each one is unique. I can’t see anyone collecting Lady Gaga live recordings because they’ll always be exactly the same.