And The Nominees Are…Sounding Like Someone Else
With 109 categories to vote on for this year’s celebration, the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, airing February 13 on CBS, should offer a little something for everyone. But if you don’t find yourself jumping with joy over another Glee soundtrack or even going gaga for ... Oh come on, you know ... This year’s nominations include blasts from the past (Sade, Elton John, Train...) as well as flashes in the pan (Drake, Bruno Mars, Train, seriously...).
No matter what your musical tastes, you may find yourself liking some bands or artists that didn’t snag a nomination, and even some that did.
ARCADE FIRE The Suburbs: Nominated for three awards, including Album of the Year. If you found yourself warming to the Canadian band’s 2010 opus, you were not alone. If you found yourself wondering what the fuss was all about, you too were not alone. Although not up to par with Arcade Fire’s also-Grammy-nominated 2004 album, Funeral, The Suburbs was a rare bright spot this year for indie music fans.
Photo credit: Merge Records
To see where Arcade Fire may have gotten some ideas for The Suburbs, you need only go back to 2003’s Give Up, from The Postal Service. Although the track "Such Great Heights" has been covered to death over the years, its soft pop melodies can be heard throughout Funeral, Neon Bible and now, The Suburbs. If only Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello would come together to make another album, the pair may influence future Grammy nominees.
Ah, Broken Social Scene, another source of inspiration. How were you so overlooked this year by the Grammy elite? Strike that. Why are you so overlooked by everyone? Forgiveness Rock Record, the band’s 2010 release, was one of the most polished albums of the year. With production by The Sea and Cake/Tortoise’s John McEntire, the Canadian supergroup created a far-more splashy album than its countrymen. Wouldn’t you rather “Meet Me in the Basement” instead of an “Empty Room” anyway?
Photo credit: Kathryn Sesser
MUMFORD & SONS: The English rock band will be going up against the likes of Justin Bieber (Squeal!) and Florence and the Machine for Best New Artist. Banking on the success of 2009’s Sigh No More, and the Grammy-nominated single “Little Man Lion,” Mumford & Sons can only hope if they win it won’t be the kiss of death. Remember the Zac Brown Band? Yes, they took home this prize last year. But hey, there’s always the Beatles, who won in 1965.
Photo credit: Island/Glassnote Records
Feeling the Mumford & Sons groove? Frightened Rabbit may be just your thing. The Winter of Mixed Drinks was one of the most underplayed albums of 2010. With a Big-Band sound and heartfelt lyrics focusing on adulthood, Mumford & Sons obviously are fans of the Scottish rockers.
On a world tour with current Grammy nominee John Mayer, The Avett Brothers are looking to open up their music to a whole new legion of fans. But acts like Mumford & Sons have been taking plays from the Avett boy’s book for years now. The guitar/banjo duo is best highlighted on 2007’s Emotionalism, which showcases a sound of their own.
THE BLACK KEYS Tighten Up: The lead single from 2010’s Brothers became the Black Keys’ first No. 1 radio hit before it was nominated for Best Rock Song. In all, the work on Brothers has garnered Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney five nominations, and well-deserved kudos. Stemming from his successful stint on Brothers, Danger Mouse has also been nominated as Producer of the Year.
Photo credit: Nonesuch Records
Both Auerbach and Carney admit to taking influences from early Blues musicians, and it is no more evident than on Brothers. Sounds reminiscent of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” off of The Howlin’ Wolf Album, 1969, reign supreme through most of the tracks. The Black Keys have hopefully opened up a new generation to sounds from the greats.
Often compared to The White Stripes, The Black Keys’ stripped-down sound often comes across as eerily similar. The band’s same driving guitar and lax drumming can be found on “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” off of White Blood Cells, 2001. Thankfully Carney’s broodiness does not match that of Meg White.