Monday, January 14, 2008

The 2007 Mikey Award

For a list style look at my thoughts on 2007, please check out my Village Voice Pazz and Jop ballot. The following entry appeared on last night:

Since I’m about as good at creating decisive ‘best of’ lists as I am at proofreading my articles, I started hosting my own little typo-plagued award ceremony a few years ago when I should have been learning the oh so tricky difference between ‘than’ and ‘then.” I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did procrastinating from those pesky grammar lessons.

Best Non-Jamband Album by a Former New Groove: American Babies, Self-titled
I never thought I’d say there’s a fine line between untz and Americana, but American Babies has proven once and for all that beneath every great jam lies an even greater song. With any luck, one day “Brooklyn Bridge” will be an anthem, but, for now, it’s just the soundtrack to my 2007.

Best Multi-Band Festival Disguised as a Civilian Vacation: Jam Cruise
Jam Cruise’s equation is simple: take the best musicians from the jam-world’s three most vibrant scenes (San Francisco, New York and New Orleans), add an all-you-can-eat buffet, subtract bad weather and divide by an infinite number of sit-ins and you get the only festival that makes even non-music lovers jealous. Just don’t tell them you’ve renamed the Shuffle Board court Shakedown.

Best Reason to Agree with Every Other Top Ten List Published Between Radiohead Releases: Arcade Fire, Neon Bible.
The inner-lot kid in me wants to hate the hype and the very principles that first ignited the Arcade Fire: the self-righteously dark lyrics, the baroque excess and especially the religious overtones, but, for some reason, I still listen to Arcade Fire every day. Perhaps I’m attracted to the grandeur or maybe I think I can see Anakin beneath Win Butler’s Dark Vader shell. Or maybe it’s just because Arcade Fire is the new Phish, only with less hemp and more hairgel!

Most Poignant Collection of Emo-Lyrics Published Anywhere Outside a High- School Yearbook Page: The Nation, Boxer
Besides having college to look forward to (probably paying better attention in English class), the only reason I still wish I was back in high school is so I could steal these lyrics from 2007’s best album for my yearbook page:

“Falling out of touch with all my/friends are somewhere getting wasted, hope they’re staying glued together/I have arms for them”

“You know I dreamed about you/for twenty-nine years before I saw you/
You know I dreamed about you/I missed you for/for twenty-nine years”

“They’re gonna send us to prison for jerks/ for having vague ideas of the way to turn each other on again/

“Your mind is racing like a pro, now/Oh my god it doesn’t mean a lot to you/
One time you were a glowing young ruffian/Oh my god it was a million years ago

I could go on and on, but my thesaurus is tired.

Also see for the above two: Best Reason to venture above (1)14th Street: Arcade Fire/the National at United Palace Theater, New York, 5/8

Best Reason to Ponder the Meaning of Life with a Member of the Opposite Sex You Last Saw Around the Release of Garden State: The Shins, Wincing the Night Away
I resisted embracing the indie-pop revolution until I saw Garden State and then the Shins changed my life. And, while no single moment can recapture that moment in time, Wincing the Night Away comes pretty close, offering a seamless mix of dark themes, light sounds and easily bouncible beats.

Best Reason to Turn on, Tune in and, Even, Chill Out: High Sierra
Being a neurotic, Northeast suburbanite I didn’t get High Sierra the first time I went and wanted to go home. But sometime between the Slip’s sunset show, the Disco Biscuits’ old-school meadow throw-down, ALO’s late-night sit-in fest and Page’s workshop (which somehow healed that “Velvet Sea” wound), this time I didn’t want to go home. And, in many ways, my Cold Turkey co-host never did (he’s currently writing a novel in San Fran).

Also see: ALO, Roses & Clover

Most Obvious Proof that the Grateful Dead are the Original Hipsters, Yo La Tengo, Port Washington, NY, 10/19
If Yo La Tengo covering “Ripple,” in Long Island, on a Friday during CMJ isn’t proof that the Grateful Dead were the original indie-rockers, then look no further than Jerry Garcia’s tight, black t-shirts or Bob Weir’s short-shorts.

Best Performance by a Group of Robots not Involving a Single Transformer: Daft Punk, Lollapalooza
Ever since my parents placed me in a Jolly Jumper when I was 2, people have judged how excited I am by how high I bounce. And let’s just say no robots make me jump higher than Daft Punk (except maybe Optimus Prime).

Best Reason to Trade in Your VW Bus for, Well, a Volkswagen: Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
Since the demise of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy has used Wilco to define alt-country, defy indie-rock, revive avant-gardism in the mainstream and, now, even sell Volkswagens. But, then again, there is something to be said for aging with your fanbase.

Best Non-Musical Performance by My Favorite Living Musician: Trey Anastasio, 92nd St. Y, 2/7
Since high school, I’ve spent well over 100 nights watching Trey Anastasio perform onstage and far more time talking about that band he played in between Space Antelope and 70 Volt Parade. But, besides his set at the Tsunami Relief Benefit, this open conversation with Anthony DeCurtis was his most genuine performance since Coventry.

The First-Person Award: AGP, Mercury Lounge, 3/1
I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of amazing, but self-indulgent, musical memories from 2007 and even luckier to have a place ( to reveal enough personal information about those moments to ensure that my family never sleeps a full night again:

The show Barber and Brownie played “Little Betty Boop” for me when the Biscuits surpassed Phish as the band I’ve seen the most, the night I spent seguing between electronic shows throughout the city, seeing a band that played my college radio show headline MSG (Dispatch), having American Babies play my birthday party (or what I remember of it), the afternoon I spent outside during Green Apple (breadsticks), cake at Camp Bisco, the Sopranos photo shoot at the School of Rock Festival and pretty much every musical performance we managed to score on Cold Turkey (especially Apollo Sunshine with Brad Barr at Langerado!), but my most meaningful musical moment from the past year has to be my final AGP show at the Mercury Lounge. AGP was the soundtrack to my college years, first band I ever wrote about for and one of the reasons I scored my editor post at Relix. Their final show should have been an incredibly sad moment, but, at the end of the night, things didn’t really feel like they ended. They sort of just faded into the night, like so many things in life.

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