Record of the Year:
St. Vincent - Actor [4AD]
As much as I loved St. Vincent's Marry Me LP, it was haunted with that most dreaded of A&R buzz words, "potential." Songs like "Your Lips Are Red" hinted at a musical landscape just outside the scope of the debut. Well, here it is. Actor is the most confident, fully-realized musical anything this year. From the astounding lurching factory-pop of "Marrow" to the elegant strings-and-organ build of "Black Rainbow," Actor is full of moments of excruciating tension and liberatory release, playing with texture and drama in unexpected and endlessly satisfying ways.
Real Estate - Real Estate [Woodsist]
No Age - Losing Feeling [Sub Pop]
Song of the Year:
Real Estate - Beach Comber [from Real Estate, out on Woodsist]
Representing both the emergence and the pinnacle of the Deadbeat Summer of 2009, when suddenly everybody was listening to something called "beach music" without being able to explain to anyone quite what that means. Real Estate have it down: 60's psych-pop rhythms rendered lazy and hazy, chiming guitars that noodle pleasantly around an effortless vocal hook. Thankfully escaping from its own shadow, it's just as home soundtracking a bleak winter's day spent indoors as a stoned shoreside barbecue.
Animal Collective - What Would I Want? Sky [from Fall Be Kind, out on Domino]
Washed Out - Belong [from High Times, out on Mirror Universe]
Video of the Year:
The Presets - If I Know You [Dir. Eva Husson]
Maybe it's that this video evokes some of that old "weird LA" mystique that I thought had evaporated in the late 90's, maybe it's that the city's landscape just lends itself to surrealist dance spasms, or maybe the Presets' video for "If I Know You" is just so otherworldly I can't stop watching it. Over, and over, and over again.
Cover of the Year
Franz Ferdinand - Womanizer (Live on BBC Radio One Live Lounge) (Britney Spears)
Following up last year's awesome Gwen Stephani cover, Franz Ferdinand chose "the best song out in the last few months," Britney Spears' "Womanizer" for their cover on BBC One's Live Lounge. It's pretty much what you'd expect from Tonight-era Franz, but the raw punk-jam recording adds enough spunk and vitriol to make this cover some of their best 2009 output.
The 5th Annual Beck Hansen Award for Coolest Thing Beck Did this Year:
A project like Beck's Record Club, covering seminal albums from scratch in a day seems audacious, but opening it by taking on the Velvet Underground and Nico seems downright arrogant. That is, until you hear what he does to standards like "Run Run Run."
The 2009 Jack White WTF I Thought You Were Cool Award
The Dead Weather
Considering they're mostly made up of reigning Boring-Ass-Butt-Rock World Champions the Raconteurs, it's not surprising that the latest Jack White vehicle just plain sucks. Not even the Kills' VV (the admittedly chop-laden Allison Mosshart) can save the colossal misfire of Horehound (seriously, that's the name of their fucking album). The Dead Weather are all posturing, spitting, artificial grit from the mixing board. I had always thought Jack White strove to create a world where great rock'n'roll would rule again, but the disservice done to the genre by this stillborn lump of formulaic rawk could set the Revolution back decades.