The Third Annual Trebblie Awards!
Pick up your tux, buy that fancy evening gown, shine your shoes and have the limo driver show up on time, because it’s Trebblie time! The Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, hell, even the Tonys(!) got nothing on us! This is the award extravaganza to end all award extravaganzas. Why, you may ask. Because we said so. We have many categories, very few of which grade artists on any sort of merit other than some kind of silly gimmick. But who doesn’t love a good gimmick?
Really, though, we couldn’t have awarded everybody in our year end lists, so we have this awards list to make up for it. We want to be able to acknowledge all of the best and brightest, and sometimes we need to do it by compartmentalizing them into headings such as “best cover song” or “best b-side” or whatever. Really, it’s all about having a good time. Among our presenters this year: Anton Newcombe, Ashlee Simpson, that guy with the space in his teeth that’s on every VH1 “witty commentary” show, an aardvark, Vanity, the NME’s mail guy, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Band, Jeff Mangum, a very intoxicated Conor Oberst, a surprisingly sober and somber Anna Nicole Smith, Jimmy Buffett, Warren Buffett, Grand Buffet, and Miiiiiike Jooonnnnness.*
The “Best Album We Didn’t Review” Trebblie
Kanye West – Late Registration
Akron/Family – Akron/Family
Joggers – A Cape and a Cane
Blood On the Wall – Awesomer
Somehow we always manage to leave out a few albums, sadly. But here’s where we make up for it. Kanye wasn’t reviewed, but did make it to the top 40, so he’s sort of disqualified. But if you listen to that Akron/Family disc, I’m sure you’ll find that what they did was, indeed, the best album to slip under our radar this year, what with its dreamy Iron & Wine versus Radiohead vibe. And there weren’t any fucking skits. The other two bands made some neat little records as well, which is why they were nominated. But we realized our mistake and own up to the fact that AF should probably have been on our year-end list, but somehow wasn’t. Do yourself a favor and listen to it. Good stuff.
The “Mike Flowers Pops” Honorary Best Cover of the Year Trebblie:
Morrissey- “Redondo Beach” (Patti Smith)
Dar Williams- “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” (Neil Young); “Comfortably Numb” (Pink Floyd)
Magic Numbers- “Crazy in Love” (Beyonce)
Feist- “Inside and Out” (Bee Gees)
Bright Eyes- “Mushaboom”
Elliott Smith- “Thirteen”
Antony & the Johnsons- “Perfect Day” (Lou Reed); “Be My Husband” (Nina Simone)
M. Ward- “You Still Believe in Me” (Beach Boys)
Matt Pond PA- “Holiday Road” (Lindsey Buckingham); ” I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” (Richard Thompson); “Winterlong” (Neil Young); “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” (Neutral Milk Hotel)
Sun Kil Moon- Tiny Cities
Nouvelle Vague- Nouvelle Vague
Winner: Elliott Smith
All were indeed worthy but I suppose one has to win. Morrissey provided a stirring live rendition of the Patti Smith classic on his Live at Earls Court album while Dar Williams contributed two classic rock covers on her album, My Better Self, one a duet with Ani DiFranco. The Magic Numbers offered a stunningly earnest cover of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” while at Los Angeles public radio station KCRW. Feist’s version of the Bee Gees’ “Inside and Out” was almost as catchy as her breakout single “Mushaboom,” which was in turn covered by Bright Eyes. Elliott Smith may be gone, but not from our hearts as the Thumbsucker soundtrack allowed us a listen to one of his last recordings, a cover of the Big Star classic “Thirteen.” Live versions of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” and Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband” appeared in the internet aether as performed by Mercury Prize recipient Antony & the Johnsons. M. Ward acoustically strummed a gorgeous take on the Beach Boys’ “You Still Believe in Me” while Matt Pond PA provided no less than four great covers on their Winter Songs EP, my particular favorite being the Buckingham cover. Sun Kil Moon and Nouvelle Vague provided unique albums entirely of covers, the former being all Modest Mouse songs, the latter Brazilian samba style versions of various songs including Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” But, if you know Treble, you know that any category in which Elliott Smith is nominated will probably end up with him as the ultimate winner. So, not to break precedent, Mr. Smith it is.
The “Manta Ray” Award for Best B-Side:
Rakes “22 Grand Job”
Maximo Park “Fear of Falling”
Antony and the Johnsons “Frankenstein”
Bloc Party “Two More Years” (technically a bonus track, sue us)
Admittedly, we didn’t hear as many b-sides as we should have this year. But most of the good ones we heard were British, and none were more infectious and essential than this short standout from The Rakes’ Retreat EP. Even catchier than the A-side, it’s one of the best new new wave songs in some time, albeit with even more of a snotty punk edge than many of their peers. And if you hear an echo of “in the city it’s alright” long after the song’s over, it’s only because these sassy Brits mastered the art of penning what may be one of the catchiest tunes ever.
The Agricultural Board “Fruit of the Year” Trebblie:
Why? With releases by Oranges Band, Oranger, California Oranges, and a rerelease by Orange Juice, there was no other fruit we loved more. (No Elton John jokes, please)
The “Okay, Okay, Kanye West Really Is That Good” Trebblie
Nominee: Kanye West
Winner: Kanye West
I can’t get “Gold Digger” out of my head. I can’t get over the awesomeness of “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and “We Major.” I’ll listen to anything associated with Jon Brion (for the most part), and I have to hand it to a rapper who is anti-homophobia. Kanye West has an ego on him, and I still can’t say that I actually liked those Boost Mobile commercials where he raps alongside Ludacris, but damn, Late Registration is a good album. Just need to take the self-admiration down a notch, Mr. West, m’kay?
The ‘Contractual Obligation’ live album of the year Trebblie:
Gomez – Out West
Old 97’s – Alive & Wired
Wilco – Kicking Television
Bright Eyes- Motion Sickness
Winner: Old 97’s
Can you believe that all four of these were double albums? Is this a trend? Well, no one captured their energetic live act better than the 97’s, so there you have it.
The “Metal Machine Music” Trebblie for Most Disappointing Release
Chemical Brothers – Push the Button
Beck – Guero
Dios (Malos) – Dios (Malos)
Mark Eitzel – Candy Ass
Prefuse 73 – Surrounded by Silence
Winner: Dios (Malos)
All of these artists released subpar albums this year, and really, they all should win. But Dios just sounds like they gave up. What was once a beautiful, sprawling pop sound became the same song about being stoned or drunk played ad nauseum. By comparison, Chemical Brothers have been disappointing for three albums in a row, Beck has always been hit-or-miss, Mark Eitzel is an acquired taste no matter what, and Prefuse still had some bright moments among humdrum hip-hop numbers. So, Dios, sorry guys but you dropped the ball. Maybe next time, eh?
The “DNR” Trebblie:
Hot Hot Heat
Winner: 3-way tie
EMTs know this acronym as standing for “Do Not Resuscitate” and all three of these artists just didn’t know when to roll over and die. Garbage almost hung it up, only to offer a last minute reprieve to release a lackluster effort that proved maybe they should have trusted their original instincts. Phair continues her downward slide into meaningless pop, and Hot Hot Heat suffocated under the weight of their debut, providing nothing more than a blip on the radar. Of them all, I think that Heat is the only one that could possibly resurface stronger, but the other two are done.
The “They Released An Album This Year?” Trebblie for Once Huge Artists We Seemed to Have Forgotten About:
Nine Inch Nails
Winner: Nine Inch Nails
Oasis and Nine Inch Nails both returned this year, with high potential of returning to the legend status they both previously held. No dice. But with Nine Inch Nails, the stakes were a little higher. The space between albums was longer, the masterpiece we held Reznor’s subsequent releases up to was arguably more impressive than anything Oasis did. Oasis haven’t done anything spectacular recently either, and neither band’s release was a failure. But Oasis have been forgettable since Be Here Now. Reznor just didn’t make the splash we all expected him to, and so we’re left with a release that’s Ok, somewhat forgettable, and that’s about it.
The “This is so unfair” Trebblie for the artist that should have been paid more attention:
Winner: Marjorie Fair
The real answer is all of the above, but Marjorie Fair’s album, Self Help Serenade stands out as an amazing, and amazingly delayed, achievement. But if you don’t have Haughty Melodic, Trouble is Real, Coles Corner or The Alternative to Love, you’re truly missing out.
The “Diva of the Year” Trebblie:
Should be pretty obvious, really, but not as much as you might think. Annie was hard to beat and a surprising return by Robyn made an even more compelling case. As for Amerie, she at least had one really great single to contend with (one that actually was good, despite other listmakers attempts at trying to convince me that Young Jeezy is good. Hell, I’ll take Mike Jones first). But, you see, M.I.A. was just a more dynamic presence, and one with a more varied palette. And, you know, she’s the only one with a Honda commercial, so what are you gonna do?
The “Just wait `til next year” Trebblie for the best preview of 2006 provided this year:
The Rakes- Retreat EP
The Capes- Taste EP
The Long Winters- Ultimatum EP
Espers- The Weed Tree
Destroyer- Notorious Lightning & Other Works EP
Clearlake- Wonder if the Snow Will Settle EP
Destroyer and Clearlake’s EP’s would have had a fighting chance had they been actual previews of things to come rather than looks into the recent past. Espers provided us with great covers, but only one new track. The Long Winters’ album should be fantastic, but with two live tracks and one track that was previously released, the EP just didn’t measure up. The Capes and Rakes were both fantastic EP, but there’s just something about “22 Grand Job” and other tracks on the Bloc Party déjà vu EP that makes this a winner.
The “Frank Zappa Memorial” Trebblie for weirdest album of the year:
Petra Haden- Petra Haden Sings the Who Sell Out
Fiery Furnaces- Rehearsing My Choir
Winner: Fiery Furnaces
Petra Haden brought on the weird by providing all vocalized versions of the Who’s classic album, but having your grandmother sing on every track is a whole other level of strange.
The “I’m not dead yet” Trebblie for best release by an elder statesman:
Winner: Neil Diamond
All had pretty decent albums, but 12 Songs thrived under Rick Rubin’s tutelage to bring forth a truly amazing singer / songwriter masterpiece, including a masterful turn with Brian Wilson on “Delirious Love.”
The “Missed the Deadline” Trebblie For best album released late in the year:
Ryan Adams – 29
Mendoza Line – Full of Light and Full of Fire
Ris Paul Ric – Purple Blaze
Rogue Wave – Descended Like Vultures
Winner: Rogue Wave
One of Treble’s writers actually did vote for Rogue Wave’s latest album, and as such, it wasn’t completely forgotten, but it took a little longer for the rest of us to acknowledge how good it actually is. The other three are quite wonderful as well, but none of them have a “Publish My Love,” which may be the best song that came out too late this year.
The “Just don’t put us on Bands Reunited” Trebblie for best `comeback’:
Winner: Depeche Mode
Some of these artists never really left us, but all were welcome returns. Madness, Billy Idol, Andy Bell and Tim Booth found the fun in pop music again, while Teenage Fanclub, Supergrass and the Posies provided some of the best music of their careers. But it was Depeche Mode who proved they will never be has-beens as long as they believe in each other. Listening to Playing the Angel made me believe it was 1990 all over again, in the best way possible.
The “Taking It To the Next Level” Trebblie:
Every year, we have to pick one artist that seems to have transcended their previous efforts with something that seems to propel them into an entirely new stratosphere of musical achievement. This year, we saw many bands step it up, and because of that, we have seen one of the most fertile years in musical boundary-pushing in some time. While Andrew Bird has perfected his sound, it was always more of a gradual curve. The New Pornographers did blow us away, but they’re a band made up of great songwriters, fer chrissakes, so if anything, we’re a little disappointed Twin Cinema didn’t come out earlier. Stars did, indeed, step it up, but they did so with Heart, as well, so see our response to Andrew Bird for that response. And Ladytron? Man, we want to give it to them so bad, because they really did something beyond expectations. But Sleater-Kinney wins, mainly because they have proven that, even late in a band’s career, something incredibly fresh and innovative can be created. And with The Woods, it was. Congrats, gals.
*Actually, it’s just us.