Best of 2009 Awards

In true fashion of the end-of-the-year rush for music bloggers to compact the year’s music into lists and rankings, I’ve been thinking about categorizing the year in music. What categories stick out for me and why? Here are HipsterSpinster’s awards for the year.

Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Lady GaGa

Alright. Yes. Lady GaGa. She’s candy right? Pop, Glamour, Fashion, Drama. Personality wise, this woman scares the crap out of me. But I just can’t help it, 2009 was the Year of Lady GaGa.  Pop as she may be, her music makes me want to dance and her videos are so culture and pop rich that it’s like a glittered sensory overload. 2008’s The Fame took pop culture by storm. From “Just Dance” to “Poker Face”, I was interested and curious for more. When “Paparazzi” finally hit I was sure of it, I was completely hooked and nothing could be done. 2009 saw Lady Gaga touring, interviewing and enjoying the spotlight as much as possible. And while her publicity trail has been everything from blossoming to what many celebs would consider career train wrecks, Lady GaGa seems to have taken the phrase “All Publicity is Good Publicity” to the bank. It seems the weirder, meaner, and crazier the rumors, the more she feeds on it and the more intriguing she becomes. With The Fame Monster follow-up out now, I can only see more dance jams, bigger fashion, more accessories and more publicity mania on the horizon for the Lady.

Best Local Album of the Year: e.p. hallMommy Crow

As the first e.p. hall release since 2006, Mommy Crow was everything I could have hoped for and more. The album is full of dark, haunting, and beautiful songs from the mind of Elise Percy and new addition to the band Andy Goheen. As the first lineup to feature drums, adding Goheen to the band was a great move to really add an extra layer to the already rich tunes.

Music Video of the Year: Matt & Kim “Lessons Learned”

Enough said.

Breakthrough Song of the Year: Grizzly Bear “Two Weeks”

This song just seemed to follow me through the year. It was always on, was the first song I heard when I started my internship in Australia, and just seemed to be what everyone was talking about at different points in the year. It’s a great song. The vocal harmonies are lovely, and it’s the first song that really intrigued me to actually sit down with more Grizzly Bear tunes.

Best Discovery of the Year: Australian Music

Go to a foreign country and check out its scene. That was my mission, and trust me, mission over-accomplished. There is some great music happening on the island/country/continent and everyone should head down under and find themselves a darling Aussie band to fall for. Check out some of my favorite discoveries here.

Most Anticipated Release: Cast Spells Bright Works and Baton

As a huge Maps & Atlases fan, an even bigger Dave Davison fan, it was great to find that he was finally putting his solo songs to good use as Cast Spells. I’d seen Davison perform his songs in Bloomington a couple of times, and he always said he had plans to do more with it, so it was great to finally hear from Sargent House, that an EP was in the works.

Indie Label of the Year: Crossroads of America Records (XRA)

I’m not playing favorites to ‘hometown heroes’ when I say this is the label I was most excited about in 2009. Releasing some of my favorite albums by Bloomington artists this year and acquiring more amazing regional bands, XRA moved mountains for Bloomington and Midwest music in 2009. In late October, the label announced a new subscription project they’d offer for 2010 called Laminar Excursion Monthly. The project consists of two 3″ CDs of music at the beginning of each month next year packed with artists from XRA, brother label Flannelgraph Records, and tracks by a collection of indie artists including Richard Swift, Vollmar, and Damien Jurado.  Fall 2009 brought XRA Fest concerts with multiple label bands performing across the Midwest and really instilling the idea that this label is more than just a project or roster, it’s a family of friends supporting one another.  Just look at the list of new releases over the past year, plus I gotta love a label that brings some of my favorite area musicians to Bloomington, to live!

New Releases:
Frank Schweikhardt Life But No More
Metavari Be One of Us and Hear No Noise
Alexander the Great Faces Change
Starflyer 56 Silver [Reissue]
husband&wife Dark Dark Woods

Current Roster:
Metavari (Fort Wayne, IN)* new in 2009
Chemic (Bloomington, IN by way of Louisville, KY)
Rodeo Ruby Love (Marion/Indianapolis/Bloomington)
Alexander the Great (Bloomington, IN)
husband&wife (Bloomington, IN)
Either/Or (Bloomington, IN)
Frank Schweikhardt (Bloomington, IN by way of Marion, IN)

I think this label is on the right track with trying to make things happen. They are good people, with good bands, and good intentions.

Concert of the Year: Sufjan Stevens @ the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, September 29, 2009

Prior to this September concert, I’d rarely listened to Sufjan Stevens. I’d only heard about three songs, which I enjoyed, and just lived on the credit of everyone else telling me his music was amazing. And then I saw him. Sufjan not only had a gorgeous voice, he was pretty easy on the eyes as well. The entire concert was excellent, beautiful music, fun between song chats, and a satisfyingly long set and encore.

Celebrity Sighting of the Year: Pharrell Williams

It’s been quite the year for meeting musical celebs this year: Flight of the Conchords, Ben Kweller, Frankie Valli. But none has been quite as memorable and special as meeting Pharrell Williams after the N.E.R.D. concert at the IU Auditorium this year. I’m not going to get into the major details, but not only did I get to talk to him, we hugged…twice. And it was AWESOME.

CD Release Party of the Year: husband&wife: Dark Dark Woods Release @ The Cinemat

As one of the many great shows to hit the space now known as the Bishop back when it was still in its prime as The Cinemat, this CD Release party is one not to be forgotten. The room was packed to capacity to the point where fans had to be turned away. husband&wife graced the stage playing a full set of all the songs on the album for the huge crowd of family, friends, and fans.

TV Show of the Year: Glee

If you took the drama of One Tree Hill, re-wrote as a comedy, hired actors who actually looked old enough to be in high school, and cued every climax moment to music, you would have the pop culture delight which is Glee. It’s easily my favorite show at current and has me laughing and singing along week after week.


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