The Queen’s Jewels

An unprecedented sense of collaboration marked Seattle’s 2009 music scene.

THIS Past Sunday night, a mixture of music-community members and culinary tastemakers gathered at the Canoe Social Club and Gallery in the International District for a holiday dinner, accompanied by the rhymes of rising hip-hop artist Fatal Lucciauno. While Jerry Traunfeld, proprietor of the acclaimed Capitol Hill restaurant Poppy, was sidled up to the same communal table as the Sportn' Life crew, Lucciauno and singer-songwriter Damien Jurado were engrossed in conversation in the corner. Jurado would later Twitter about their meeting of the minds, calling Lucciauno an "AMAZING talent and new friend."That anecdote neatly reflects the collaborative attitude that marked the Seattle music scene this year. In my 10 years in this business, I have never witnessed as many new creative connections made as in 2009. The lines between hip-hop, punk, indie, and metal are slowly dissolving and the genres melding—which can only mean more good things in 2010.Following is an examination of the successes, trends, and failures of 2009:Most Welcome Local Reissue While Sub Pop's 20th-anniversary edition of Nirvana's Bleach understandably received many more accolades, the quiet re-issue of sadstyle by S on Aviation Records provided a richly deserved second chance for a record that had been out of print for six years. Former Carissa's Wierd member Jen Ghetto's raw, confessional bedroom recordings were not professionally mastered when sadstyle first came out in 2001. Ghetto remixed the re-issue herself with help from producer Ben Kersten. And renowned Seattle engineer Chris Hanzsek gave it a proper mastering job, washing the mud from the source material while retaining Ghetto's unique guitar tones and incisive songwriting skills.Most Charming Trend I'd Like to See Evolve While the resurgence of vinyl is a welcome return to the old school, it's cost-prohibitive for most artists. However, many local bands, including lo-fi popsters Scraps and crusty punk stalwarts the Spits, went analog by putting out cassette versions of their recordings. Be kind and continue to rewind, I say. Because cassettes are so affordable and tend to bring out the creative impulse for customization, they are a great DIY vehicle with way more heart than an mp3 or MySpace page.Hip-Hop Hopeful Most Likely to Blow Up Outside the 206 This one's incredibly hard to call. This was the year that the motley members of Mad Rad translated their bad-boy reps into sold-out shows, culminating in Terry Radjaw's wildly successful Go! Machine festival earlier this month. Introspective MC Macklemore and his imaginative collaborator Ryan Lewis blew minds and opened doors to a new audience with their re-envisioning of songs by Beirut, Arcade Fire, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Fatal Lucciauno, Dyme Def, and Champagne Champagne all had banner years as well. However, experimental act Shabazz Palaces seems to have the deck stacked most auspiciously in its favor for success in 2010. The brainchild of former Digable Planets member Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, this music is awash with equal parts grit and artful abstraction, and the two simultaneously released EPs he made with producer Erik Blood instantly garnered blogosphere buzz.Producer of the Year Speaking of Erik Blood, no other local engineer's stock rose higher or faster than his. With a reputation as efficient, artist-friendly, and in possession of ears finely attuned to a breathtakingly diverse array of genres, he helmed a slew of great recordings in '09, including ones by the Lights, The Redwood Plan, the Tea Cozies, and Coulter, forthcoming works from Telepathic Liberation Army and the Moondoggies, and his own critically lauded solo album, The Way We Live.Most Promising Forthcoming Documentary on Seattle Music History This one's an irresolvable tie between Bill Badgley's KARP Lives: Kill All Redneck Pricks and Jennifer Maas' Wheedle's Groove (see Q&A, page 40). New York–based filmmaker Badgley is currently pursuing a grant to complete editing on his film, an examination of the now-defunct punk band's enduring influence and a portrait of its three young members' unique friendship. Meanwhile, Maas has begun squiring Groove around the festival circuit, already finding a highly receptive audience (it scored the Audience Award at October's Indie Memphis Film Festival). Given the early buzz surrounding her painstakingly researched documentary on the history of Seattle's funk and soul scene, I'd wager it'll make a local debut at this spring's Seattle International Film Festival.Most Frustrating Procrastinators This past July, Ruby Doe bassist Jesse Roberts told SW that the punk-informed metal band was finally wrapping up its new record (its first since 2005's Always With Wings). Nearly six months later, there's still no news of a release date. Please, for the love of all that is hard and heavy, finish your damn record.Antiquated Liquor-Board Regulation Most Eligible for Repeal Treating hardworking, perpetually underpaid musicians like temporary employees of the clubs they play is simply ludicrous, but that's the reasoning behind the blue law that forbids musicians from drinking on the stages of Seattle music venues. Until artists are magically covered by L&I or any of the other legal protections afforded "real" employees, having a beer while getting peanuts to pour your heart out should be a privilege the city supports.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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