The 2nd Best Thing About The Internet Award
It’s not I Rock Cleveland, but it’s close.

The Nominees:
*Pitchfork Let’s be honest here, as more and more print and web publications move on to the afterlife, Pitchfork remains a strong and (mostly) trustworthy site for music news and reviews. Plus, they gave a dude like me a press pass to cover their festival. Not that a press pass would be enough to influence my decision, but…
*Gmail Canned responses, email addiction protection, and mail goggles are just a few of the amazing new features the Gmail team have added in the past year. What will those wacky guys at google come up with next?
*Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog It’s an action-adventure movie. It’s a comedy. It’s a musical. And it stars NPH.
*That video on Youtube where the lions, buffalo, and crocodiles brawl by the watering hole. Ok, so it premiered in 2007, but I didn’t see it until this past year, and did you read that first sentence? It’s a battle between lions, buffalo, and crocodiles!

And the Winner Is…Pitchfork

Fool Me Once Shame on You, Fool Me Twice Won’t Get Fooled Again Award
Even the greatest bands make a bad album here and there, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to them.

The Nominees:
*My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges Diversity on a rock album can be a good thing. My Morning Jacket’s type of diversity, on the other hand, the type where Jim James dons his interstellar funk costume for the most unlistenable, “Highly Suspicious,” is not a good thing.
*TV on the Radio – Dear Science I really do want to like TV on the Radio. I really do. And I listen to all their albums and I can appreciate their talent, and still, I never want to listen to TV on the Radio. I don’t think I’m the only one who likes the thought of liking TV on the Radio more than they actually like this band.
*The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely In theory, a supergroup with Jack White of The White Stripes and Brendan Benson should be super. Instead, The Raconteurs are just, kinda, sorta average.
*Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs I should have known better. When the press started to write Death Cab for Cutie released a rock album, I should have known it wouldn’t rock.

And the Winner Is…My Morning Jacket

The Keith Richards Unmemorial Award for Rock ‘N’ Roll Longevity
While none of these artists are as ragged and weathered as Richards, they’ve all been around for a few years, and they’ve all found success late in their careers. The Keith Richards Unmemorial Award honors the veteran musician who still can rock toe to toe with the young ‘uns.

The Nominees:
*Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
*Mark Lanegan (For his work with the Gutter Twins and with Isobel Campbell)
*Robert Pollard (For his solo work and his work with Boston Spaceships)
*The Breeders

…And the Winner Is: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

The Golden Axe of Odin Award
Did Odin even own a golden axe? I don’t know, but if Odin did have a golden axe, and he was inclined to present his golden axe as an award, I am certain he would give it to the best guitarist of 2008.

The Nominees:
*Robert Griffin of Prisonshake
*Marnie Stern
*Dylan Carson of Earth
*Takeshi of Boris

And the Winner Is…Takeshi

The In Rainbows Award for Music and Technology
Did Radiohead change the game with In Rainbows, or were they nothing more than marketing geniuses? The debate may never be settled, but that hasn’t stopped other artists from using available technology to connect directly with their fan base.

The Nominees:
*Deerhunter The Deerhunter frontman is gracious to a fault on his blog where he features new and unreleased cuts from Deerhunter and his other project, Atlas Sound.
*F*cked Up They don’t have an official website, and they don’t have a myspace, but their blog, Looking for Gold, is regualarly updated with live videos, mix tapes, and demos.
*Jay Reatard Like Deerhunter and F*cked Up, this Memphis rocker has learned the joys of feeding his fans free tunes through his blog.
*Nine Inch Nails First there was the surprise quadruple album, Ghosts I-IV, that Trent Reznor released directly to his fans, which he made available in all sorts of formats and for all ranges of fandom. Then, on top of that, he released his next studio album, The Slip, completely and absolutely free.

And the Winner Is…Nine Inch Nails

The Sophomore Suck Award
It’s worse than a sophomore slump, every band has a sophomore slump, it’s a sophomore suck. Be thankful you didn’t listen to any of these albums.

The Nominees Are:
Tapes ‘N’ Tapes – Walk it Off
Cold War Kids – Loyalty to Loyalty
Birdmonster – From the Mountain to the Sea
The Fratellis – Here We Stand

And the Winner Is..Tapes ‘N’ Tapes

The Solid Gold Easy Action Award

This award goes to the record label who in an ideal world, one where the public bought music, and one where the public bought only the best music, would have had their office walls adorned with gold albums from the records they released in ’08.

The Nominees:
*Matador If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Matador was intentionally signing all my favorite artists. Times New Viking, F*cked Up, and Jay Reatard all had releases on Matador this past year. And the awesomeness didn’t stop there. No, there were those amazing Mission of Burma reissues, too.
*Subpop The resurgence of the fabled Seattle label continued with releases by Blitzen Trapper, Oxford Collapse, Wolf Parade, and No Age.
*Jagjaguwar You can pretty much write Jagjaguwar in for label of the year every year and 2008 was no different. Among the albums they released this year were new discs by Parts and Labor, Wilderness, and Black Mountain.
*Southern Lord Thanks to eMusic, Southern Lord became my 2008 obsession, and with heavy new albums by Boris and Earth, they showed why they’re one of the premier sources for the loud, sludgy stuff.

And the Winner Is…Matador

The Grand Michael Stanley Band Award
A legend to some, a joke to others, The Grand Michael Stanley Band Award, named after the Cleveland legend, and writer of the unforgettable “My Town,” acknowledges the best Cleveland musicians and artists.

The Nominees:
*The Black Keys
*Cobra Verde
*Prisonshake
*Hot Cha Cha

And the Winner Is…The Black Keys

The We Jam Econo Award
Named after the Minutemen’s slogan, this award recognizes the best live performance of the past year.

The Nominees:
*Boris They shred, and they’re master showmen, and even though they can barely speak a lick of English, their mere presence transcends languages and cultures in creating a loud, dynamic, riveting Rock ‘N’ Roll show that shouldn’t be missed.
*Extra Golden There isn’t a band around who can match the exuberance of the Kenyan/American collaboration, Extra Golden. And not only are they happy to play, these dudes can play, making it damn near impossible to keep your feet still once their cross cultural mix of Rock ‘N’ Roll and Benga hits the speakers.
*The Black Keys Those of us lucky enough to get into The Black Keys’ Myspace show at the Beachland Tavern will never, ever forget that night.
*Robert Pollard and Boston Spaceships Over three hours, over forty songs, and who knows how many beers Robert Pollard and his bandmates downed during their stop in Cleveland.

And the Winner Is…Robert Pollard and Boston Spaceships

The New Kids on the Rock Block Award
Hey, it could be worse. My best new artist award could be named after Milli Vanilli.

The Nominees:
*National Suicide Day
*The Dutchess and The Duke
*Gentleman Jesse and His Men
*Hot Cha Cha

And the Winner Is…The Duchess and The Duke

The Rusty Shovel
Sometimes talking isn’t enough to get a message across. Sometimes you need something a bit more blunt, like a rusty shovel upside the head. The Rusty Shovel seeks to inject common sense into the artist who needs it most.

The Nominees:
*Axl Rose You finally finished Chinese Democracy and, amazingly, it ain’t half bad. Now, can we patch things up with Slash, Izzy, and Duff and get the old band together?
*Jim James and My Morning Jacket I’m one album away from writing off MMJ for good. At this point, a whack with a shovel couldn’t make things any worse than “Highly Suspicious.”
*Rivers Cuomo I have a theory and it goes something like this…Sometime after Pinkerton Rivers took a hit from a rusty shovel and he regressed to an immature teenager, and the only way to make Rivers start acting like an adult, and stop writing songs about tee-peeing yards, is another whack from a rusty shovel.
*Coldplay Mathematically speaking, there’s a finite number of chords, a finite number of notes and a finite number of melodies, and as music listeners, we’re bound to hear songs which remind us of other songs. But, nicking a melody from Joe Satriani? Could you not find anything you liked on your old Stryper cds?

And the Winner Is…Jim James and My Morning Jacket

The Excellence in Awesomeness Award
This award goes to the outstanding artist of 2008.

The Nominees:
*The Black Keys Not only did they release one of their strongest releases to date (Attack and Release), and followed it up with a massive tour, this Akron guitar and drum duo, seemed to be everywhere this year. Auerbach had a hand in new releases by Hacienda, The Black Diamond Heavies, Buffalo Killers, and Jessica Lea Mayfield (to name a but few). While Carney’s label, Audio Eagle, released new albums by Houseguest and Royal Bangs. As if that wasn’t enough, Carney and Auerbach still live in Akron, and are tireless supporters of the local music scene. To show their appreciation to their fans in Northeast, Ohio, they staged one of Myspace’s secret shows in the Beachland Tavern, the cite of their very first Cleveland gig, to a jam packed room of 200 very, very lucky people.
*Robert Pollard and Boston Spaceships Seriously, who plays three hour shows these days? And these dudes did it with buckets of beer and bottles and bottles of booze. Plus, Boston Spaceships debut cd, Brown Submarine, featured some of Pollard’s strongest work in years.
*Boris If you’ve listened to their latest disc, Smile, and saw this band on their extensive American tour, then you know why they’re on this list. Boris rule, ok.
*Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Nick Cave continued his late career resurgence with his latest album with the Bad Seeds, Dig Lazarus Dig. It was no Gridnerman, it was better.

And the Winner Is…The Black Keys