The Recording Academy's grandest awards ceremony is still the Grammys, but even without the paparazzi, its Pacific Northwest Chapter still threw one of the local music community's swankiest bashes last weekend. The awards event, held at the Westin Hotel, was to honor the work of "outstanding community members" with a posh ceremony that included a three-course meal, lots of red wine, performances by Smoosh and Kinski, and a silent auction for everything from spa packages to guitars. After a rough start by honorees the Kingsmen (rough because of equipment failure, through which the band persevered to highlight such oldies staples as "Louie Louie") the rest of the night rolled along flawlessly. Underage queen Kate Becker was honored for her outstanding contributions (which include fighting the Teen Dance Ordinance, founding Redmond's Old Firehouse, and helping start the Vera Project) by James Keblas of the Mayor's Office of Film & Music. Obviously moved by the glowing tribute (that included a standing ovation), Becker remained ever modest about the whole event. Jonathan Poneman was equally humble in the face of accolades for his legendary label, Sub Pop—he was introduced by a man in a gorilla suit (Sonic Boom's Matt Olsen) and hit by a good-natured pie to the face by SP general manager Megan Jasper. My favorite part of the event, though, was discovering jazz trombonist Julian Priester, a Cornish instructor who was honored by none other than the great Herbie Hancock—he played in Hancock's groundbreaking Headhunters-era fusion group in the '70s. Hancock spoke of Priester's intuitive ability to keep music grounded with the perfect note when experimentation took hold around him. Jazz is far from my forte, but after this brief introduction, I'd recommend delving into the local maestro's catalog (which includes working with everyone from Muddy Waters to Max Roach to Sun Ra and Duke Ellington). Congrats to all four awards recipients.
While there probably won't be any chocolate mousse on hand for the occasion, the Viceroy will celebrate its second anniversary with a big ol' bash on Thursday, September 29. The upscale Belltown watering hole invited a handful of its most popular DJs (Cherry Canoe, Greg Vandy, Curtis, N8, DV-One, and fourcolorzak) to spin on a night promising to embrace the terrible twos with plenty of drunken shenanigans and delicious drink specials. Not that you'll be lacking in possibilities for entertainment this week. After a bit of an end-of-summer lull, October is kicking off with insane talent playing across town. Over the course of one seven-day sprawl, here're a couple of picks: T. Raumschmiere at Chop Suey on October 2, avant-rockers extraordinaire Mars Volta (opening for System of a Down) at KeyArena on October 5, and Franz Ferdinand for two nights at the Paramount, October 1 and 2. The Scottish foursome are really coming through swinging, too—their new album, Things Could Be So Much Better, is jubilantly cheeky, cocky, and coy. Frontman Alex Kapranos sings about everything from blowing a famous friend (the infectious, drunken party ode "Do You Want To?") to riding into the skies at Coney Island ("Eleanor Put Your Boots On," for his girlfriend, the Fiery Furnaces' Eleanor Friedberger) with a mix of disco pop and jumpy, blustery post punk. It's rare when a band with this much hype on a debut can return with such a strong sophomore outing, but Franz Ferdinand show why they're currently kings of the pop world.
Without nearly the same spotlight in their honor, New York's Blood on the Wall stop by Chop Suey on October 4 with plenty of agitated yelling and yelping. The band's debut, Awesomer, connects the dots between Pixies' offbeat indie rock, Sonic Youth's art-rock sprawl, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' bruising guitar work. In distinct opposition to tourmates Black Dice, Blood on the Wall proffer prickly, jagged post punk—the kind to needle you from your seats and into slow seizures on the dance floor. The vocals are alternately dope sick and dazzling, and the guitars stick it to your spinal column in heroic bursts.
Coming up and coming out: The Shins are back in the studio with Phil Ek, working on the follow-up to 2003's critically acclaimed Shutes Too Narrow. The album should be ready mid-2006—after frontman James Mercer marries his girlfriend, writer Marisa Kula. The Strokes are also readying to release their next album in 2006... but thanks to our own commercial rock station, 107.7 The End, that process is possibly being sped up a bit. According to a press release sent out by The End, local DJ Harms has repeatedly leaked the Strokes single "Juicebox" on the air, forcing the band's label, RCA, to "ship out the song to other alternative stations and possibly pave the way to an earlier release date."