Before I begin my predictions, first allow me to say something to curb the reactions for if/when (most likely when, I’m a pessimist) all my LMA predictions are completely wrong. Unlike my goofy pal and fellow sarcastic asshole Brian McGovern, I’m not “super hip with the local scene,” I guess you could say. I’m more likely to be sitting in my bedroom listening to a live Phish show while doing an awkward hippie dance than to attend a show at Cowboy Monkey, possibly hearing Desafinado or The Beauty Shop play. However, I’ve been doing my research and I believe I can consider myself a gifted (it’s a nicer term for nerdy) sixth grader in the scholarly system of local music knowledge. Though, you probably could have guessed my basic knowledge from my awkward name dropping a sentence or two ago. And just for the record, local music fucking rocks. Anyway, here they are:
Best Folk/Americana: The Elanors. Runner up is elsinore, but not because their name is basically the same. I like them both, but Elanors’ “Completely” cinched the deal.
Best Rock: The Living Blue – I can’t stop listening to their music.
Best Female: Joni Laurence.
Best Record: Headlights. The Enemies EP is catchy in a Death Cab way.
Best Male: Steve Ucherek.
– Carlye Wisel
These are predictions, not endorsements. Good luck to all the nominees.
Best Folk/Americana: The Beauty Shop won Best Roots/Americana last year and looks likely to repeat, although dark horse elsinore advances.
Best DJ: I feel DJ J-Phlip is favored, but I predict DJ Bozak on name recognition.
Best Rock: The Living Blue and Lorenzo Goetz appear neck and neck, but The Living Blue and Headlights split the hipster-scenester vote, while Lorenzo Goetz has a more monolithic fan base.
Best Jazz: Desafinado comprises half the population of Champaign, and Tom Paynter is in three of these, but Jeff Helgesen can never be counted out.
Best Hip Hop: KrÅkid has the buzz.
Best New Artist: With the release of Dirty Shoes, Megan Johns went from girl next door to overnight sensation. Lynn O’Brien and Cameo Turret are too obscure.
Best Female: Joni Laurence has the most loyal fan base, but I predict Erin Fein has higher numbers.
Best Male: Larry Gates is the hardest working man in the scene and one of few with a following on campus.
Best Record: This was between Fire, Blood, Water and American Minor, which went unnominated.
Best Live Band/Performer: Lorenzo Goetz, for the same reason as Best Rock.
Band You Most Want to Reunite: This is between HUM and Absinthe Blind, and the question is whether HUM’s 2003 and 2005 reunions sufficed. Absinthe Blind, in the meantime, is more popular than ever.
– Todd Hunter
Despite the myriad awesomeness to be found in the folk and Americana nominees this year, The Beauty Shop’s biting, amplified edge gives them the advantage in the awards vote and they take home the award for Best Folk/Americana for the second year in a row. Scorching live performances and a new album that builds on interlocking riffs and a pulsating rhythmic drive, The Living Blue runs on testosterone, booze and the Best Rock to be found in an area much broader than CU. The sweet, soulful voice and promising songwriting of Megan Johns disarms her competition rather than beating them, making this appealing newcomer to the CU scene the Best New Artist of 2006. When dealing within a single genre, it can be difficult to pick a winner; when trying to choose among the best several have to offer, it can be next to impossible. Although the stripped-down energy of the Living Blue’s Fire, Blood, Water and the mellow sophistication of The Enemies EP from Headlights make them likely contenders, the award for Best Album of 2005 goes to the complex sonic introspection of Shipwreck’s Origin.
– Susan Schomburg
Best Folk/Americana: Though nobody can deny The Beauty Shop’s talent and success here and in the UK (and last year’s win), The Elanors are CU’s undiscovered gem of heartbreaking pop and folk music, and two just really nice people.
Best DJ: Considering everybody’s disappointment last year when J-Phlip didn’t get nominated, she may be it. And I don’t think she’s going to be around foreva…
Best Rock: Shipwreck put out the best record of the year, not only in Champaign, but anywhere. They just get better every time.
Best Jazz: This is more like the “best band featuring Tom Paynter”; cat plays in three of the five nominated groups. (Brazilian group) Desafinado cut a surprisingly good record this year, so that might give them an edge.
Best Hip Hop: KrÅkid is the best MC in town. Even if you only have a passing interest in hip hop, you’ll find something you’ll like on Raisin In The Sun; great production, great drawly flow, and a great back-story.
Best New Band: There isn’t a bad choice here, but nobody fits in to the scene as well as Fireflies.
Best Female: Holly Ruskakoff is the CU scene’s first lady. Whether on radio, pen or bass, she is a cornerstone and it wouldn’t be the same without her.
Best Male: From the White Horse to an MTD bus, Larry Gates rocks out everywhere.
Best Record: Going by spins, I’d have to say Living Blue, but Shipwreck has made one of the most perfect debut records since the first Wu-Tang LP.
– Kyle Gorman
2006 will go down in history as the year that killed award shows. With Green Day and U2 owning the Grammys and Trash, er … I mean Crash, winning Best Picture at the Oscars and the SAGs, the already sickly metaphorical award ceremony cow definitely got its mercy bullet to the brain. But maybe, the CU Local Music Awards will restore my hope that the most deserving should win. Fingers crossed. Here are my fave picks.
Best Folk/ Americana: The Beauty Shop. Definitely my favorite area band, The Beauty Shop is a super-giant in a land of normal to small giants. The Beauty Shop has this swagger and odd chemistry that just makes me want to see them again and again. Waiting for their new album is like waiting to find out if you knocked up your girl after the crazy, blurred night of Unofficial. So much anticipation!!
Best Hip Hop: Agent Mos. Mos is the only guy I’ve seen out on Green Street freestyling with a boom box at his feet; that’s love for his craft. His flow is mos ridiculous too, so I must cast my vote for the agent.
Best Rock: Headlights. As much as I love the other … wait, no. I don’t really like the other nominees very much. Side note: Although not a nominee, Blanketarms is one act that is also deserving of this award, so check it out! They are so indie, it’ll make your head spin like a whirligig.
Best Record: Headlights. I have a powerful soft spot for power pop. These guys are really the most deserving with a beautifully produced, written and executed album. Plus, if anything, this should be theirs as compensation for being compared to the Get Up Kids and The Anniversary. Eww! Throw-up noises! Sharing similarities with Stars and New Buffalo, Headlights, now on Polyvinyl and getting some mega Internet press, will be the ones to beat, BIG TIME.
– Brian McGovern
In a surprise shocker, DJ Mertz sweeps every award (except best female performer, Erin Fein wins that). Mertz can’t carry home all the trophies and sells half of them to the guys from Lorenzo Goetz … all in all, vindication for a DJ career that has consisted mostly of morons asking for mainstream crap and Mertz scowling in return.
– Brian Mertz