ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Iron & Wine The Shepherd’s Dog (Sub Pop)
The charming lo-fi sound of Iron & Wine's past is gone and Sam Beam’s trusty acoustic is joined here by banjos, accordions, upright bass, horns, assorted percussion, female backing vocals, acoustic and electric piano, and some electric guitar, along with shades of Afro-pop, dub, brief hints of psychedelia, the spacey grooves of Los Lobos offshoot The Latin Playboys, and latter-day Tom Waits.
Honorary Mention: Radiohead In Rainbows, Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
FAVORITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Drake Bell It’s Only Time (Universal)
Power pop bliss from a 21 year old star of the Nickelodeon network? You bet.
Runner up: Radiohead In Rainbows; Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Californication (Showtime)
Showtime’s new breakout series stars David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a middle-aged Hollywood Lothario who medicates his possibly career-ending writer’s block with sex and drugs, amidst the wreckage of his relationship with the mother of his devoted teenage daughter. Moody's lone novel, God Hates Us All, was turned into an allegedly lame, but quite successful big screen rom-com called A Crazy Little Thing Called Love, much to the deep chagrin of our 'hero', who fancies himself a "one hit-wonder" too busy skirt-chasing and espousing rivers of sarcasm to sit down and confront the muse. Sweet.
BEST REISSUE: Miles Davis The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony)
This six CD box set digs deep into Davis' trademark brand of funk and experimentation, regarded as both an attempt at reconnecting with a young black audience that had abandoned jazz for rock and funk, and a seminal influence on hip-hop, drum and bass, and electronica.
Runner Up: Elliott Smith New Moon (Kill Rock Stars)
BEST COMEBACK: Van Halen
The mighty VH got back with Diamond Dave and kicked some major ass in the process.
Runner up: Bob Pollard
After last year’s disappointing From a Compound Eye (Merge) the former Guided by Voices figurehead released 2 albums on the same day—Coast to Coast Carpet of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions, both on Merge—and they were equally great.
BEST ALBUM TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: A twofer from Eels; Meet the Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1, 1996 – 2006 (Geffen) and Useless Trinkets (Vagrant), a 50-song collection of b-sides and rarities.
Runner up: Joe Jackson Rain (Rykodisc)
BEST NEW TV SHOW: Californication (Showtime)
Runner up: Weeds (Showtime)
WORST ALBUM: Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace (Roswell/RCA)
There is probably a small army of records worse than this one out there but such a mediocre release from a once promising band is just inexcusable.
Runner up: The Stooges The Weirdness (Virgin)
WORST COVER SONG: Velvet Revolver “Psycho Killer”
It must be heard to be believed. Qu'est que c'est? indeed.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC) gets cancelled
Unlike every other popular show out there with gimmicky, suspension of disbelief plots and/or story lines, Studio 60 delivered quality storytelling and writing from the great Aaron Sorkin. Is that why it got cancelled or was it too soon for another West Wing-type drama?
Runner up: Chris Cornell's second solo album was DEFINITELY NOT worth the wait; The slew of new reality shows going into production due to the writers’ strike; Guns ’N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy fails to appear yet again; Nickelback still around.
MOST UNWELCOME COMEBACK: Matchbox 20
Runner up: Kid Rock
MOST UNDESERVED HYPE: The website only release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows
Runner up: Marnie Stern In Advance of the Broken Arm (Kill Rock Stars)
MOST UNNECCESARY REHASHING: The Kanye West/50 Cent duel for the top chart spot
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Film director Michelangelo Antonioni; British music impresario Don Arden (former Black Sabbath manager and father of Sharon Osbourne); James Brown’s longtime sidekick, the great Bobby Byrd; the incomparable Alice Coltrane; actress Yvonne De Carlo, best known for her role as “Lily Munster”; Boston lead vocalist Brad Delp; The Mamas and the Papas’ Denny Doherty; South African reggae artist Lucky Dube; Quiet Riot frontman Kevin Du Brow; Ruts guitarist/vocalist Paul Fox; singer/songwriter/producer Lee Hazlewood; vocalist Billy Henderson of The Spinners; Joe Hunter, pianist and original member of Motown Records' in-house studio band, the Funk Brothers; comedian Richard Jeni; CBGB founder Hilly Kristal; the great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti; saxophonist Cecil Payne; Killing Joke, Prong, and Ministry bassist Paul Raven; jazz/Afro-Cuban saxophonist/arranger Mario Rivera; legendary jazz drummer Max Roach; opera singer Beverly Sills; composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; influential talk show host and TV personality Tom Snyder; bandleader, songwriter, musician, rock and roll pioneer Ike Turner; Factory Records founder and British TV/radio personality Tony Wilson (the film 24 Hour Party People is a semi-fictionalized account of his life); bandleader, keyboard virtuoso and Miles Davis collaborator Joe Zawinul.