Here they are, folks. You nominated 'em, we mulled 'em over and sorted out the stuffers, and now the 2009 Houston Press Music Awards ballot is set. Normally Rocks Off would say something cute like read 'em and weep, but since we've been listening to almost nothing but '80s hard rock and new bands that totally sound like '80s hard rock (Low Man's Joe, The Answer, Charm City Devils) for the past couple of days, we'll just say this: Eat 'em and smile. Just kidding. We know this is serious stuff, and seriously, congratulations to all the nominees. For a laugh, we threw in one nomination per category submitted by someone who Just Doesn't Get It. Let the second-guessing start... now!
Nominees: B L A C K I E, Wilderness of North America; Bun B, UGK for Life; Hayes Carll, Trouble In Mind; Little Joe Washington, Texas Fire Line; Born Liars, Ragged Island; Young Mammals, Carrots Notes: This category was the most fun to choose and most difficult to narrow down, and the one that makes me happiest I'm ineligible to vote. Hayes Carll's alt-country blockbuster and Bun B's heartfelt Pimp C valediction versus the venerable Little Joe, late-night garage creepers the Born Liars, B L A C K I E's fuzz-clouded thinkbomb and Young Mammals' lovable psych-pop? A toss-up if there ever was one. Get a Clue: "Carrie Underwood," "Meet the Beatles," "Rush Live in Rio"
Best Local EP/7-inch Nominees:
Homopolice, "Assfucker"; McKenzies, "McKenzies"; News on the March, "Glory Be!"; Ozeal & the Eulypians, "Joyful Struggle"; Benjamin Wesley, "Geschichte"; Wild Moccasins, "Microscopic Metronomes"
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The Homopolice's leather-clad S&M ravings crash a party where Benjamin Wesley speaks shadowy truths, the Eulypians' jazzy hip-hop has everybody dancing and the three-headed "H-pop" hydra grins from ear to ear. Another tough one.
Get a Clue:
• Best Local Song Nominees: American Fangs, "Le Kick"; Hayes Carll, "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart"; Mechanical Boy, "She Does"; Miss Leslie & Her Juke Jointers, "Between the Whiskey and the Wine"; Nosaprise feat. Kam, "Intervention"; The Last Place You Look, "Don't Make It So Easy"; Benjamin Wesley, "Have You Ever Died?" Notes: Could have easily had twice this many nominees. An iPod shuffler's dream. Get a Clue: "In Da Club" • Best New Act Nominees: BOLT; Cavernous; Hollywood FLOSS; Muhamid Ali; Neon Collars; Pasadena Napalm Division Notes: Maybe the category that best shows how fertile, regenerative and degenerate the present Houston scene really is. Good luck. Get a Clue: "Blaggards" • Songwriter Nominees: B L A C K I E, Hayes Carll, Nick Gaitan, Miss Leslie, Nosaprise, Benjamin Wesley Get a Clue: "Producer" • Local Musician of the Year Nominees: Beau Beasley; B L A C K I E; Hayes Carll; Kam; Kristine Mills; Little Joe Washington Notes: A cross-section of Houston's best musicians - and busiest. Beasley and Kam are both in too many bands to count, Carll spent the entire year on tour, Mills released two albums and Little Joe, who only bounced back from near liver failure, should be here every year. Get a Clue: The tool who wrote "noon" in every category • Best Guitarist Nominees: Anthony Cruz Jr., Metavenge; Kelly Doyle, Three Fantastic; Adam Martinez, Tontons; Michael Regino, Mechanical Boy; The Mighty Orq; Little Joe Washington Get a Clue: "Neil Young" • Best Bassist Nominees: Chris Applegate, Mechanical Boy; Beau Beasley, Homopolice; Nick Gaitan, The Octanes/Umbrella Man; Jack Schulz, Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys; Westside Johnny, The Mighty Orq; Rozzano Zamorano, Yoko Mono/Rozz Zamorano Group Get a Clue: "Bill Murray" • Best Drummer Nominees: Nick Cooper, Free Radicals; Pat Kelly, Los Skarnales; Andy Moths, The Last Place You Look; Doug Payne, Plump; Kevin Tate, dUNETX Get a Clue: "Toto" • Best Keyboards Nominees: Gilbert Alfaro, Spain Colored Orange; Zahira Gutierrez, Wild Moccasins; Mlee Marie, Hearts of Animals; Ryan Scroggins, Ryan Scroggins & the Trenchtown Texans; Jade Simmons; Pamela York Get a Clue: "Piano" • Best Miscellaneous Instrument Nominees: B L A C K I E (PA); Chris Buckley, Blaggards (violin); Eric Jackson, Spain Colored Orange (trumpet); Jason Jackson, Plump (saxophone); Geoffrey Muller, Sideshow Tramps (saw); Robert Rodriguez, Umbrella Man/Los Pistoleros de Tejas (accordion) Notes: We'd take out a second mortgage to see these people, with those instruments, get onstage somewhere and jam. Get a Clue: "Bob Dylan" • Best Male Vocals Nominees: Tim Anderson, Mechanical Boy; Cornbreadd, Tha Fucking Transmissions; Anthony Cruz Jr., Metavenge; Justin Nava, The Last Place You Look; Cody Swann, Wild Moccasins; Sergio Trevino, Buxton Get a Clue: "Kristine Mills" • Best Female Vocals Nominees: Elaine Greer; Zahira Gutierrez, Wild Moccasins; Kam; Leela James; Kristine Mills; Asli Omar, Tontons Notes: Do the ladies run this motherfucker? Damn right they do. Fierce. Get a Clue: "Adam Hill, Los Skarnales" • Rock Nominees: Blaggards; The Favorites; Mechanical Boy; The Last Place You Look; Peekaboo Theory; Versecity Notes: Eliminating Alt-Rock this year didn't eliminate the fact that Houston audiences like their rock heavy. And hard. Get a Clue: "Ozzie Osbourne" • Blues Nominees: Texas Johnny Brown; The Mighty Orq; The Snakecharmers; Runaway Sun; Little Joe Washington Notes: Note nearly as heavily voted as Rocks Off expected. Is Houston losing steam as a blues town at long last? Get a Clue: "dunno" • R&B/Funk/Soul Nominees: Asidasoul; Caretta Bell; Dominique; Leela James; Kam; Neon Collars Notes: On the other hand, Houston is enjoying a bumper crop of funky divas right now. Good stuff. Get a Clue: "Mary J. Blidge" • Zydeco Nominees: Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers; J. Paul Jr. & the Zydeco Nubreeds; Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws; Zydeco Dots Notes: The least-voted category, by far. It pains Rocks Off to think this venerable - and indigenous to Houston - genre may have to be retired next year, but maybe that's for the best. Clifton Chenier (who got one vote) is turning over in his grave. Get a Clue: "any" • World Nominees: D.R.U.M.; DubTex; Heptic Skeptic; Idiginis; Ryan Scroggins & the Trenchtown Texans; Space City Gamelan Notes: One lone vote for Space City Gamelan's Indonesian exotica kept this from turning into "Best Reggae." Get a Clue: "Stevie Nicks" • Jazz Nominees: Drop Trio; Free Radicals; Kristine Mills; Pamela York; Rozz Zamorano Group Notes: A healthy bunch. Jazz in all its many forms and flavors. Get a Clue: "Kenny G," "Maroon 5" • DJ Nominees: Ceeplus Bad Knives; DJ Sun; Grrrl Parts; Squincy Jones & Dayta; Dave Wrangler Get a Clue: "Trance" • DJ Night Nominees: Dirty Honey (Boondocks); Gritsy (various); Noise Thursday (Escobar); Speakerboxx (The Mink); Texas Dub (Avant Garden); Underworld (Numbers) Notes: The very first ballot Rocks Off looked at nominated "Friday." We're still laughing. Get a Clue: "None" • Metal Nominees: Golden Axe; Metavenge; Melovine; Pasadena Napalm Division; Whorehound; World's Most Dangerous Notes: From Golden Axe's hammer-of-the-gods theatrics to Metavenge's Kill-'Em-All thrash and World's Most Dangerous' Southern roar, Houston's metal scene is thriving. Get a Clue: "KISS" • Punk Nominees: Born Liars; Dead Roses; Flamin' Hellcats; NO TALK; Skeleton Dick; Something Fierce Notes: Great year for punk, and a tough category to narrow down. Keep it coming. Get a Clue: "is cool" • Hardcore/Noise Nominees: A Dream Asleep; Battle Rifle; Black Leather Jesus; Cop Warmth; Future Blondes; Homopolice Notes: Fun fun fun 'til daddy takes the earplugs away. Get a Clue: "KTRU" • Indie Rock Nominees: Balaclavas; McKenzies; Spain Colored Orange; Tontons; Wild Moccasins; Young Mammals Notes: Veterans Spain Colored Orange hold fast against a high tide of utterly charming, thoroughly unique young bands. Get a Clue: "NONE" • Instrumental/Experimental Nominees: Caddywhompus; Female Demand; Inner Lights; Motion Turns It On; Jade Simmons & Robert Reynolds (Room 101); Two Star Symphony Get a Clue: "My dog Heiki plays squeaker toys" • Mainstream Hip-Hop Nominees: Bun B/UGK; Devin the Dude; Scarface; Slim Thug; Paul Wall; Z-Ro Notes: 'Nuff said. Get a Clue: "EMIEMN" (sic) • Underground Hip-Hop Nominees: B L A C K I E; Fat Tony; H.I.S.D.; Hollywood FLOSS; Nosaprise; Ozeal & the Eulypians Notes: See Metal. A pleasure - and nightmare - to curate. Get a Clue: "noon" again • Latin Traditional Nominees: Mango Punch; Moodafaruka; Los Pistoleros de Tejas; Norma Zenteno Get a Clue: "Gloria Estephan" • Latin Contemporary Nominees: Chango Man; Espantapajaros; Los Skarnales; Karina Nistal; Yoko Mono Notes: Significantly better voted than its Traditional counterpart. Get a Clue: "Bebel Gilberto" • Cover/Tribute Band Nominees: Allen Oldies Band; Bare Necessity; Black Dog; Beetle; Cold Shot; Picture Book Notes: Houston looooves its cover/tribute bands, and it shows. One of the most-voted genre categories. Get a Clue: "REO Speed Wagon" • Country Nominees: Johnny Falstaff; Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers; Mitch Jacobs Band; Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys; Katie Stuckey; Dixie Trahan Notes: Honky-tonk ain't dead yet, y'all. Get a Clue: "Dolly Pardon," "more cowbell" • Folk Nominees: Lee Alexander; Glenna Bell; Come See My Dead Person; Robert Ellis; Flying Fish Sailors Get a Clue: "That folk dude" • Roots-Rock/Americana Nominees: Buxton; Hayes Carll; LL Cooper; Sideshow Tramps; Small Sounds; Umbrella Man Notes: Tooth and nail. Get a Clue: "Houston Symphony" Voting for the Houston Press Music Awards begins with our July 2 issue and continues through the Music Awards showcase July 26. Winners will be announced July 30 at Warehouse Live.
Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.