When you write a rock-centric music column that covers local and national scenes while pulling in relevant elements of music history, it's impossible to compile a top-10 list that truly encompasses all that moved you throughout the course of the year. This summary originally had more than two- dozen topics, but I ultimately decided to keep the focus on my local loves.
Local Label of the Year—Light in the Attic Records
Balancing their affection for meticulously packaged reissues of lost treasures, like this year's release of Karen Dalton's In My Own Time, with taking on the hard work of handling most of their distribution in-house, LITA are perfectly poised for long-term success. Furthermore, not only are they exemplary archivists, they have excellent forecasting skills, releasing the widely heralded debut from Austin psych rockers the Black Angels and recently signing rising local hiphop outfit the Saturday Knights.
Most Heartbreaking-but-Graceful Dissolution—Sleater-Kinney
With a pair of flawless final shows in Portland, they went out on the highest note possible.
Most Promising Drummer of the Year—Bob Husak from the Blakes
The Blakes' drummer Bob Husak exhibits that essentially, Moon-esque streak of animalistic ambition that a little bit frightening and a whole lot mesmerizing. This city has spawned an inordinate number of talented drummers, and it's easy to envision Husak soon joining the winner's circle that includes Thomas Wright, Coady Willis, and Dave Weeks.
Most Admirable and Entertaining Music-Community Activist—Kerri Harrop
Her day job may be promoting widespread consumption of Miller High Life, but scene veteran Ms. Harrop (AKA DJ Cherry Canoe) expends more than her share of energy articulately championing the liberal causes closest to her heart. Whether motivating local musicians to get their asses to the polls in November or spearheading fundraising efforts for survivors of Hurricane Katrina, she always manages to light a fire under everyone's ass with an astonishing amount of class and humor.
Best Local Release by an Established Artist—Downpilot, Like You Believe It
Bandleader Paul Hiraga is a classically trained musician who isn't afraid to take chances, a rare and precious combination that helped make this collection of intelligent ruminations on life lessons and losses a unique treasure.
Most Welcome Local Reunion—Tie: Team Dresch and Murder City Devils
I was definitely more a fan of the former than the latter, but both legendary Northwest acts gave legions of devotees reason to completely lose their shit when they reunited within months of each other, each putting on shows that reminded everyone why they were so beloved to begin with.
Best Local Demo That May Never See the Light of Day—Los Angeles
Damn you, Ryan Davidson. The former eXBeSTFRIeNDS frontman continues to toil in obscurity, despite the fact he's easily one of this city's most gifted songwriters and musicians. There are no firm plans for live shows or releasing Los Angeles, the latest demo Davidson tossed my way, and that's simply criminal.
Best Local Release by a New Artist—Iceage Cobra, Brilliant Ideas from Amazing People
Thanks to an insanely rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule, these fierce-rocking Spokane transplants earned themselves one of the most rapidly growing fan bases in the area in a few short months and a reputation for whiplash-promoting live shows. Amazingly, they managed to translate that energy to their debut—no easy task for such a young band.
Biggest Loss to Portland—Lisa Wood
The KEXP DJ is still periodically traveling up here to help out with the station's local Audioasis show, but the loss of one of the scene's most passionate advocates for hard-rock acts is palpable.
Biggest Shake-up in Clubland—Tie: Jason Lajeunesse, Steven Severin, and Mike Meckling buying into Neumo's and Mayor Nickels's nightlife crackdown
A triumph for good: two exceptionally adroit booking agents and one expertly efficient bar manager buying into one of the city's best nightclubs and making it even better. A (potential) triumph for evil: the mayor's inexplicable and cowardly drain on the lifeblood of Seattle's nationally revered music scene. Someone put Nickels on a plane to Austin so he can see what a city that respects the work of its musicians looks like.