By Mitch Davis, February 18, 2017
Everyone has their own opinion about the Grammys. Every year, some fans come away feeling disappointed, gipped, cheated, or some other form of naive bias because their favorite artist was beat out by someone else’s favorite artist. The fact of the matter is, whether you think it’s rigged or not, someone has to lose. As a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan, I have come to know that reality extremely well, especially over the past few weeks. Putting our respective pains aside, it’s important to remember what the Grammys should be about: celebrating our favorite artists and discovering a few records we might not have heard in the process. With that said, I thought it appropriate to highlight a few records that were nominated for but did not win this year that I think are worth spending some time with.
Parquet Courts – Human Performance
Being nominated for Best Recording Package isn’t exactly the way most artists would want to be represented at the Grammys, but it’s a great excuse to shed a little light on an ever present indie/punk staple that already has five full-length LPs under their belts. The band writes what has been called “Americana Punk,” and is cited as being influenced by guitar sounds and crassness of bands like Pavement, Sonic Youth, Guided By Voices, as well as the rhythms of everyone from Can to Brian Eno and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. This mixture results in a defiantly self-conscious brand of fuck you art punk with the occasional American riffs and melodies that remind us of the band’s Texas roots. Human Performance is the most mature example of this to date and managed to land Parquet Courts at #50 on the U.K. charts. Sure, the packaging is great (apparently not great enough), but you might find the record stands out even more.
De La Soul – And the Anonymous Nobody
Chance the Rapper, Kanye, Schoolboy Q, De La Soul, and DJ Khaled (sigh): One of these is not like the other. The Grammys putting De La Soul into the best rap album consideration feels like the industry paying its dues by respecting one of the few acts that laid the groundwork that the colossal hip hop industry of today that is still going strong and has come to stand on top of. Now, plenty of current musicians like to stand on their predecessors and call themselves tall, but the top tier of hip-hop has in large part always handled its lineage well and respect has been paid where it was due. I would’ve loved to have seen De La Soul take the stage and win Best Rap Album, thus prompting naive tweets of Who the hell is De La Soul? and De La Soul only won cause they stole so and so’s sound from people who call people like DJ Khaled legitimate contenders, but Chance The Rapper deserved it as much as anyone and the award still represented a ton of hard work paying off. Bottom line is, De La Soul has managed to stay culturally and artistically relevant within a cutthroat and constantly evolving genre, while releasing some flat out unbelievable records that changed hip-hop forever. And the Anonymous Nobody deserves our attention for those reasons.
Weezer – Weezer (The White Album)
Weezer won a Grammy for their music video for Pork and Beans back in 2009. This was their third nomination ever, with the other being Beverly Hills for Best Rock Song in 2006. I included Weezer on this list because I feel like they’ve largely been forgotten as being capable of releasing a extremely solid rock records after Raditude and Hurley left fans feeling like their favorite band had taken a turn for the worse. While Everything Will Be Alright in the End found the band making a triumphant return to their roots, The White Album feels like they’ve not only kicked that door wide open, but walked through and sat down for a drink. Given that the Best Rock Album crop was kind of a hodgepodge this year, I’m willing to accept that Cage The Elephant was simply a sexier pick than Weezer, and that Rivers Cuomo’s acute penchant for crafting perfect pop songs will never become fully realized. Regardless, clocking in at 34:05, The White Album is a short and sweet treat from the sexiest veterans in power pop that, if you start now, you’ll be listening to all summer.
Bon Iver – 22, A Million
I decided to throw Bon Iver some love on this list because this record really is fantastic, and I think it’ll be remembered for a long time. Also, the Best Alternative Music Album category was stacked this year between Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop (!), and of course, David Bowie. This was Bowie’s to win from the get-go given the heartbreakingly honest and lyrically masterful swan song that is Blackstar, and I doubt there’s anyone complaining about that. That’s why I think it is worth mentioning that Bon Iver’s latest record as one not to sleep on any longer. In fact, if you’re still grieving Bowie like me, it might even help you out. Indie Music’s answer to Frank Ocean’s Blond, 22, A Million is a truly awesome step for Justin Vernon and Co. that is both a culmination and a detachment within his body of work.
There are plenty of other records that are worth listening to from this year’s Grammy Awards, even a few the winners! But in all honesty, not every record can be represented, and not every artist can win, so it’s nice to remember that the Grammys are really just another way to broaden the spotlight even just a little bit, and help us remember the people of past and present that have brought music into our lives largely for the better.