The Trophy Case

Winners of the third annual Seattle Weekly Music Awards.



True to their name, the 45s deliver a scrappy, devil-may-care country sound with a beat even city folk can dance to. Around since 1997, the five-piece band rallies behind the theatrical rockabilly style of frontman Billy Joe Huels, who leads the group in a high-spirited gallop through honky-tonk, blues, and rock without breaking a sweat. Their 2002 album, recorded at KEXP, won them plenty of new local fans, but their star is still rising—and somewhere Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Ray Condo are all tipping their hats. NEAL SCHINDLER



Alternate award: Best All-of-the-Above Artist. Or at least many of the above: Bellingham's Idiot Pilot engineer a detente between, as Urb put it when it included the band in its Next 100, "the blurry atmospherics of Radiohead, bleepy techno, and the throat-shredding emo-metal of Deftones, shifting back and forth with the loud/soft dynamics learned from Smashing Pumpkins albums." Even more impressive, they're young—none of 'em are 20 yet—which means they can, and will, probably just get better and broader as they soldier on. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



"Established 1987," according to their Web site, this blues juggernaut emerged when vocalist White moved to Seattle from Texas and hooked up with a handful of local natives, including alto saxophonist Bill Blackstone, guitarist Scott Lind, and keyboardist Rolf Larson. White is a veteran performer and has as much charisma as any local blues performer, while his six-piece backing band (which also features dynamic baritone saxophonist John Savage) nimbly shadows his every move. They play next at Doc Maynard's on Friday, May 20. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



"Hot! Loud! And sticky with sweat!" So screams their official Web site, yet Hell's Belles are no campy novelty act. An all-female AC/DC tribute band, the Belles formed in 2000 and recently replaced their original lead vocalist, Om Johari, with Jamie Nova ("grabbing both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson by the balls"). Their passion for the music is somehow both sly and sincere, and despite their globe-trotting ways— yes, they're big in Japan; Canada, too—they'd no sooner neglect their hometown than Angus Young et al. would leave Australia behind. Their next Seattle show is at Neumo's on Friday, May 20. NEAL SCHINDLER



We'd like to think our readers are cheeky enough to have picked this winner for his name alone. But no—the punk-reared artist called him Eric Grandy by his mom is actually a really good DJ, spinning a wide range that includes post-punk both old-school (Gang of Four) and new (the Rapture, Franz Ferdinand), laptop-based experimental stuff (Kid606), electro (Two Lone Swordsmen), neogoth (Interpol), Britpop, and plenty in between. And best of all, he will (and obviously does) make you dance to it all. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



See related story.



Although the roster of artists, composers, musicians, performers, and pranksters involved in any given Seattle School happening is always in a wonderful state of flux (you might be onstage with them next), the core of the performance art experiment is occupied by Korby Sears, Ben Houge, Mike Min, and Guy Whitmore. Conceived in 2002 as a means of exploring music and sound and their relationships with just about everything else, Seattle School spawned, among other events and ideas, the wildly popular—and wildly wild—Iron Composer series, wherein two local musicians navigate an aural objective/obstacle course while an entire rock club cheers/jeers them on. If you haven't caught the real thing, keep your boob tube on; there's a good chance Iron Composer will be coming soon to a big-time network near you. LAURA CASSIDY



Calling this local legend underappreciated would be an understatement. Following the release of 2002's Can't Find No Heaven, a mix of original songs and blues standards, Blues Review compared Stuart's guitar playing to that of B.B. King. Her recording career goes back to 1964's All the Good Times, yet Stuart rolls on, forming new bands—her latest is the Formerlys, composed of Steve Flynn (keyboards), Marc Willett (bass), and Rick Boice (drums)—and racking up accolades. (The Washington Blues Society recently inducted her into its Hall of Fame.) NEAL SCHINDLER



Math-rock? You're soaking in it. And you obviously want to—and when it comes to the Ruby Doe, whose bassist, Jesse Sea, and guitarist, Aaron Ellh, have been playing together for over a decade, who could blame you? We'll guess that the superb new Always With Wings, the band's third album, helped put them over the top this time around, but they've always been self-starters—two years ago, "Red Letters" garnered airplay on The End without an actual release. Anyone who can make herky-jerky time-signature changes sound like second nature, not to mention laden them with hooks, deserves your (and our) accolades. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



When MC Geologic and DJ/producer Sabzi won 2004's Best Album write-in tally for their self-titled, self-issued debut, we wrote it up—and then they wrote us up on their Web site, where the duo rate their own reviews on a five-star scale. (The blurb was given three and a half—midway between "Near-classic" and "Fair, unbiased, objective . . . boring." Hey, thanks—we try.) They've since consolidated their gains, becoming the city's most reliable—and one of its busiest—hip-hop presences and hopefully working on a follow-up that'll have us inching toward's designation for a five-star-worthy review: "We didn't pay you to write that, did we?" MICHAELANGELO MATOS



Despite countless plugs on The OC and a seeming omnipresence since the release of 2003's Transatlanticism, the time for a Death Cab backlash has not yet arrived. It may never arrive, in fact, because Bellingham's Fab Four continue to crank out spellbinding pop-rock that's sleek and smart on disc, a little less earnest (and a lot more raucous) live. Since their next full-length isn't due until fall—it's on Atlantic—they recently gave fans a stopgap in the form of a live EP. NEAL SCHINDLER



Bassist, cellist, composer, bandleader, home-recordist, small-label head—Paul Rucker may not constitute a mini–jazz industry all by himself, but he sure does a lot of work. Fine work, too—his pair of 2003 CDs for his Jackson Street label, History of an Apology (made with help from King County funding, the kind of civic grant we can get behind) and Oil (a duo disc with Rucker playing cello alongside Hans Teuber's saxophone), are two of the city's best jazz records of the past decade. Let's hope Rucker is working on more—we could use it. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



In addition to 1991's "Baby Got Back," the ode to ample ends that made Mix a phenomenon, the Seattle native born Anthony Ray has accomplished a lot. At the height of grunge, he brought attention to Seattle's fledgling hip-hop scene; some of his lesser-known raps are outspokenly political, not just politically incorrect; and he's a crossover artist par excellence, finding unlikely collaborators in Seattle rockers Mudhoney and the Presidents of the United States of America. NEAL SCHINDLER



Keeping time for Sunny Day Real Estate, Foo Fighters, and the Fire Theft means that William Goldsmith has to constantly be switching time. The self-taught drummer is anything but straightforward, and it wouldn't be a leap to suggest that his complex, esoteric style has heavily influenced the stuff they call "emo" and "math-rock." On the Fire Theft's self-titled 2003 debut, Goldsmith manages to mingle Led Zepplin–esque classic-rock rhythm with indie-rock sensibilities and prog-rock intricacies—all while helping singer Jeremy Enigk out with the songwriting chores. LAURA CASSIDY



Even if they weren't the winners of the Pop/Pop Rock category, you'd have to figure Left Hand Smoke for one of the hardest-working bands in town—they've played 10 shows in the past two months, not all of them in Washington, either (there are Portland and Moscow, Idaho, dates sprinkled in there as well). The five-piece unit has also been busy recording its next album in between all those concerts—the better to hold the title next year, the band (and you) might hope. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



Your choice for punk/hardcore band this year, the Blood Brothers have been brutalizing—in the best way, of course—your ears with jagged guitar art and angsty interwoven lyrics since 1997. On their latest, Crimes (V2), Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilile seem alternately engaged in a nasty argument and an opera; their lines of rangy vocals provide an ironic anchor for the chaotic pummel and assault of the band's instrumentation. Utilizing new technology along with old-fashioned (in the 1982 sense of the world) guitars, bass, and drums, Cody Votolato, Morgan Henderson, and Mark Gajadhar join the band's vocalists in creating a reworked brand of metal that neatly escapes—and transcends—the trappings often associated with the genre. LAURA CASSIDY



When Jurado's Ghost of David (Sub Pop) uncurled its wrinkled, earth-stained fingers and wrapped itself around listeners everywhere in 2000, loosely held ideas about a genre called "urban folk" quickly solidified. Jurado's conversational acoustic guitar tones, strange melodies, and straightforward, literary voice make the city seem as lonely and desolate as the country. Likely owing to his punk background, the singer/songwriter also makes honesty and spirituality seem as tough as nails. Your choice for Best Singer/Songwriter released On My Way to Absence this year; layered among the handcrafted melancholy narratives are electronic flourishes and artfully arranged samples. LAURA CASSIDY





All right—this is starting to get ridiculous. Some bands are lucky to win three of these things in three years; Maktub have now won four. Sure, vocalist Reggie Watts already displayed his massive range, from honeyed falsetto to leather-lunged roar to alternately casual and comic baritone, on a solo album, but Simplified was issued two years ago, and while he gigs plenty around town solo, it's a safe bet that most of you voted for him based on his work with his maiden band. Which makes sense: Not only does the new Say What You Mean tighten up the group's approach, it demonstrates what a team player Watts is. Not to mention what a team Maktub themselves continue to be. MICHAELANGELO MATOS



Like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, this polyglot punk sextet knows its way around Eastern Bloc rock. Unlike Hedwig, frontman Gino Srdjan Yevdjevich is Bosnian and, um, male. No matter: Toss in fellow Bosnian Mario Butkovich on lead guitar, Bulgarian Val Kiossovski on backing vocals, Yankees Matty Noble and Chris Stromquist on violin and drums, respectively, and Japan's Masa Kobayashi on bass, and you have a band that redefines world music. Kultur Shock mixed jazz, funk, blues, and politics on 2001's Fucc the INS and last year's Kultura-Diktatura; this year, you sent them to the head of the (global) class. NEAL SCHINDLER

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow