Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Lord Rutledge Awards 2014

So again we've found ourselves on the final day of the year. Congratulations to all of us for making it to the "mid 2010s"! Tomorrow we will all look a little different. I traditionally entertain myself on this particular holiday with a variety of annual rituals such as timing myself in the 40-yard dash, arranging my collection of Lou Diamond Phillips movies in order of their artistic merit, and convincing close relatives that I now prefer to be addressed as "Turk". I reflect on what I accomplished in the past year (learning how to correctly type "Cincinnati" without spellchecker, going through an entire football season without throwing anything at the television) and what I might wish to accomplish next year (read the entirety of Crime and Punishment, place top five in a pierogi-eating contest). If I get really crazy, I might go up to my walk-in closet and see if I still remember how to tie a tie. And of course it wouldn't be New Year's Eve in Rutledge Manor without my annual awards post - which I will now endeavor to complete if I can just manage to pull myself away from the Law & Order: SVU marathon on USA Network. 

It's been a long time since we've had as good of a year for punk, power pop, and rock n' roll music as we've had in 2014. I remember one year ago thinking that 2013 would be extremely hard to top, but there were probably twice as many great albums released this year as there were last year. And last year was a very good year. In just about every area of music that I like to cover ('77 punk, power pop, garage punk, pop-punk), I had plenty of quality music to write about. I already announced my top ten albums of the year a couple days ago, but there were also a number of outstanding EPs and singles to consider. So, then, without any further delay - let's get to the awards! 

Album of the Year:
The Cry!- Dangerous Game
You may remember that I reviewed this release on the first day of 2014 and predicted it would be album of the year. Little did I know how fierce the competition would be! Los Pepes, Mother's Children, and Sugar Stems all came really close to taking the top spot. But in the end, it came down to this: the first Cry! album is a modern classic, and Dangerous Game is even better.

Short Form Album of the Year:
Gino and the Goons- Shake It!
We all know that 4 songs are an EP and 12 are an album. But what about eight songs? Is that an LP or an EP? I don't know! What I do know is that Gino And The Goons' Shake It! is one of the hottest rock n' roll records I've heard in a long time - and surely deserving of its own category.

EP of the Year:
The New Trocaderos - Kick Your Ass
When Geoff and Brad from The Connection got together with Kurt Baker last year to record a couple songs penned by their friend Michael Chaney, The New Trocaderos proved to be every bit the super group I hoped they'd be. They returned this year with Craig Sala on drums and Kris "Fingers" Rodgers on keyboards and delivered an EP so good that it even beat out that awesome Lovesores 10" for this award. If you enjoy power pop and traditional rock n' roll, The New Trocaderos ought to be your new favorite band!

Single of the Year:
Barreracudas- "Promises" 
This was a fine year for singles - with the likes of Ricky Rat, Terry & Louie, Nasty Rumors, Neighborhood Brats, The Plain Dealers, The Connection, Jenny Dee, and late entrants The Mandates all receiving consideration for the big prize. But I had to give it to Barreracudas - because "Promises" was the one single I played this year more than any other. In what kind of sick world do we live in where this song is not a massive hit?!

Song of the Year:
Sugar Stems- "Some Might Say"
From my #2 album of 2014. I still can't stop playing this song! 

Album of the Year (Masters Class):
Real Kids- Shake Outta Control
This award goes to the best album released by a band that's 25 years or more into its existence. This was a very good year for punk rock oldtimers. '77 punk greats like The Boys and Buzzcocks produced excellent LPs, and Stiff Little Fingers turned out a really solid album as well. But the big prize goes to the Real Kids - who came through in classic form on a proper second album that was 37 years in the making.

Label of the Year:
Taken By Surprise Records
Three albums in my top ten (The Cry!, Mother's Children, Neighborhood Brats) plus another great one from Piss Test and some killer singles to boot (Piss Test, The Mandates). Tonight I gladly raise a glass of fine Bavarian pilsner in honor of this outstanding German label!

Garage Punk Album of the Year:
Rev. Norb & The Onions- self titled
An absolute smasher of an album from the great American Midwest. 

Pop-Punk Album of the Year:
The Bat Bites- self titled
Holding off formidable competition from The Putz, this long awaited debut from The Bat Bites is probably my favorite pop-punk album of the last several years. 

Power Pop Album of the Year:
Sugar Stems- Only Come Out At Night
How does this band manage to keep improving upon perfection?!

Album I Regret Not Yet Hearing:
Flesh Lights - Free Yourself
Hopefully that will be rectified soon.

Best Cover Song:
Scantron - "Shot Down"
If The Sonics were the proto punk version of Little Richard, then there's definitely some genius in taking a signature Sonics song and making it sound like Little Richard himself could have recorded it!

Best Song Of 2013 That I Didn't Hear Until 2014:
honeychain - "Lucky One" 
This was like the best new Muffs song in 15 years until The Muffs actually made a new record!

Producer of the Year:
Ed Valauskas
You might know Ed Valauskas from his playing with The Gravel Pit, The Gentleman, and Graham Parker. As a producer, he's worked with a variety of Boston greats such as Andrea Gillis and Muck and the Mires. He's also a band member and producer for his wife's group, Jenny Dee & The Delinquents. Electric Candyland, the band's new record, sounds absolutely stunning in every way. Somehow this album recalls the late '70s productions of Jeff Lynne and sounds thoroughly modern.

The Patrick Bateman Prize For Excellence In Music Criticism: 
Dale Merrill - Smashin' Transistors
I can't remember if I've ever honored Dale with this award before. At the very least, I know I haven't since I started this particular blog. When it comes to writing about rock n' roll, he's probably the best guy in the business. And on top of that, he does beer reviews as well - a feature I've long considered adding to this blog but have never had the guts to follow through with. For a sample of his work, check out this killer piece he did on Sick Thoughts.

Radio Show Of The Year:
Jazzed Up And Bonkers!! 
If you could somehow combine Dr. Demento with Little Steven's Underground Garage, it would sound like this.

Comeback of the Year:
Charles Matthews
Sometimes people construe "comeback" to mean some sort of return to form after a prolonged period of decline. But in this case, I'm referring to Charles Matthews literally coming back to the world of music after a decade spent writing toilet paper jingles and wrestling bears in the wilderness. It had been nine years since the former Dimestore Haloes singer had officially released music, and his presence had been greatly missed. The Cheap Cassettes, a duo he formed with longtime bandmate Kevin Parkhurst, did not disappoint with their long-awaited debut long player (my #7 album of the year). Think a more power pop Dimestore Haloes. Or maybe Wham! with better haircuts. 

Vault Treasure of the Year: Gun Fury - Complete Studio Recordings
Gun Fury was a very important band in my musical life - a local group from my younger days that heavily influenced me getting into '77 punk. It always bothered me that this band was never really known outside of central Pennsylvania. And since most of my '90s record collection is no longer in my possession for a variety of reasons, the music of Gun Fury had long existed only in my memory. But thanks to the magic of modern technology, Gun Fury's entire recorded output lives again. And it sounds just as good as I remembered!

Blog of the Year:
just some punk songs
I've always thought that F & L would be a much better blog if I didn't, you know, write so much. Mick Fletcher's just some punk songs is a blog I'd like to emulate - featuring similar styles of music but with much shorter write-ups that allow the music to speak for itself. Plus he posts new stuff just about every day - so there's always something for me to look forward to when I click into the Internets every morning. I like the fact that he promotes new punk music and classic punk music with equal fervor. And his on-going feature of having individuals from the punk world listing their ten favorite songs is something I enjoy very much.

Best New Band:
The Shanghais
Every year, I hope to discover that one new act that immediately cracks my top ten list of favorite bands. Two years ago, it was Livids. Last year, it was L.A. Drugz. And this year, it's The Shanghais from Oakland, California - who burst on the scene with two super awesome EPs. Runner-ups: Scraps and Lexxi Vexx & The Modern Gentlemen.

Compilation of the Year
Jake and the Stiffs - The Singles
Long before the '77 punk/powerpop thing was even remotely "in", Delaware's mighty Jake and the Stiffs were making amazing records that only a handful of people gave a damn about. Finally this year, Randy America remixed and remastered all of those original singles from 1993-97 and released them on one brilliant collection. With just a few clicks of a mouse, classic songs like "Jennifer", "All I Said", and "Scrappy Come Home" can be yours today! Given the inflated prices of adult magazines, The Singles is the greatest reward you will ever get out of $6.

The Championship Belt:
The Cry! 
This title is annually awarded to my current favorite band. Something Fierce has held the belt since its inception. But given that we've been waiting a couple of years for Something Fierce to release new material, I thought it was only fair that they surrender the belt and perhaps regain the title next year when they blow my mind with their new album. In the meantime, The Cry! just can't be denied. If I had to name the best five albums that have come out since I started this blog, The Cry! would have two of them! 

Alright, that's another great year behind us! Hopefully an equally great one awaits. Happy New Year, everyone! Be safe tonight, and I'll see you in 2015!


No comments: