There were nearly 4,000 votes cast for this year's model of the RFT Music Awards (the Slammies, if you're nasty). This was a huge increase over the number of ballots we received last year — both via paper and the online ballot on the RFT Web site, which saw nearly 600 more votes submitted.
In light of the sheer amount of ballots, it was even more shocking to me that the first- and second-place winners in two categories — Best Vocalist and Best Indie Band — were separated by less than ten votes apiece. Johnny O & the Jerks (a.k.a. the 2007 Best Garage Band) won by a mere seventeen votes. Chalk these close races up to the quality of talent inherent in the music scene — and the enthusiasm these artists' fans have for their tunes.
The write-in votes, of course, provided much hilarity to temper this suspense. We should have specified that ballots should only be cast for local artists: Wolf Parade, Flogging Molly, Panic! At the Disco, Sage Francis, the Eels, Cute Is What We Aim For — and yes, even Wilco — aren't from the Lou. Bureau vocalist Mike Cracchiolo received a smattering of write-in votes for Best Vocalist — although his last name was spelled Cracchiollo, Carrachiolo, Cracciolo and, simply, Mike Crotch. Furthermore, if there actually is a DJ Former Soviet Union in town, please e-mail me. And if your name is Nicole, you should know that someone is wanting you; he/she said as much in an all-caps-lock write-in vote for Best Local Release.
I'm pleased by the results of the balloting this year, especially since there's a mix of new faces sprinkled among old favorites. Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to all who voted. Now go out there and support these bands by attending their shows! — Annie Zaleski Magnolia Summer Best Americana/Folk "Magnolia Summer leader Chris Grabau's gentle and wistful voice has a deceptive bite, while his songs — which are obsessed with the emotional force of the past and the present — take on a life and a sound that's very much their own." — Roy Kasten
Bottoms Up Blues Gang Best Blues Artist "The Bottoms Up Blues Gang has earned a following the old-fashioned way: by playing its music — a mix of originals, blues and covers — in person and in front of as many people as possible." — Dean C. Minderman
Flex Boogie Best DJ "The ageless DJ Flex Boogie is the right guy to find if you are longing to spend the night grooving to a smooth, boogie-licious set." — Alison Sieloff
Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship Best Eclectic/Uncategorizable "As the captain and sole crew member of Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, Corey Goodman packs no shortage of energy, humor and weirdness into his one-man, electro-spaz show." — Christian Schaeffer
Dogtown Allstars Best Funk/Soul/R&B "The Dogtown Allstars possess buckets of funky, high-stepping grooves, many of which are propelled by Nathan Hershey and his spitting, crackling organ."
— Christian Schaeffer
Johnny O & the Jerks Best Garage Band "Johnny O & the Jerks are everything you could want in a young trashabilly band — they're dirty, adorable and chaotic, and they play sexed-up, unrestrained rockabilly music with the urgency of a punk band." — Jaime Lees
Head On Collision Best Hard Rock/Metal "Though it still sports the Flying V and performs the requisite headbanging, Head On Collision is different (and so good) because of the tuuunes, dude. There's no joking when it comes to the music; the band is dead serious when it comes to rocking you."
— Jaime Lees
Needles Best Hip-Hop DJ "You want a hip-hop DJ who still hauls around the crates, who can barely move through his house without falling over vinyl, who plays out every week without fail. You want Needles." — Brooke Foster
Ghost in Light Best Indie Band "Since reconfiguring itself as a trio, Ghost in Light has become quite comfortable (and more adept) at integrating doses of throttling post-rock and dynamic volume shifts with its quieter moments. Buzzing keyboards, harmonic latticework and spidery riffs abound." — Annie Zaleski
Erin Bode Best Jazz Artist "Erin Bode's pop-jazz sensibility cuts across musical boundaries, uniting listeners of otherwise disparate tastes, and her crystalline voice and personal charm seem more than sufficient to ensure future success." — Dean C. Minderman
7 Shot Screamers Best Punk/Hardcore & Best Live Act "The 7 Shot Screamers represent for psychobilly, but at its core, the quartet is an energetic punk band that always gives an impressive, enthusiastic performance." — Jaime Lees
Sex Robots Best Pop Band & Best Local Release (on a label) "The Sex Robots consistently produce delightful little nuggets of delicious power-pop — most of which are bright and encourage sunny little dreams of rainbows, flowers and lollipops." — Jaime Lees
Nite Owl Best Local Release (self-released) "Last year, LaMore Maclin (a.k.a. Nite Owl) hit a confident stride with Now You Can Boo Me, an old-school, heavily soul-influenced (and sometimes minimalist) hip-hop record that matched spare, languid beats with cutting and satirical wordplay."
— Roy Kasten
Humanoids Best New Artist "The Humanoids take their cues from the old school (Descendents and Germs, we're looking at you) and from vintage-leaning groups such as Dillinger 4 — both in blistering gigs and on their blink-and-you'll-miss-it debut EP, The Humanoids Are Born." — Annie Zaleski
Midwest Avengers Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist "Slick and dignified, the Midwest Avengers' primary genre of hip-hop is gently skewed as they embrace elements of funk, jazz and even a little classic rock."
— Jaime Lees
Murder City Players Best Reggae Band "Through numerous personnel changes, the vocal stylings of Mark Condellire and 'Prince' Phillip McKenzie and the keyboards of founding member Jeff Schneider remain constant." — Tom Carlson
Riddle of Steel Best Rock Band "The phrases 'face-melting,' 'brain-bending' and 'eardrum-bursting' come to mind to describe Riddle of Steel's rock maelstrom, which is a heady mix of meedly-meedly-mee riffage and Failure-style melodic sludge."
— Annie Zaleski
Kim Massie Best Vocalist "Kim Massie can pull you in by purring a smooth jazz tune — and then knock you back in your seats with the least-clichéd, hardest-edged version of 'Proud Mary' you can imagine."
— Roy Kasten