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Album of the Year: Could it be de facto lifetime achievement again this year?

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  • Daniel Montgomery
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    #412668

    I see a lot of people predicting Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar as Grammy frontrunners, but I wonder if both might fall victim to the recording academy bypassing what’s cool in favor of rewarding the old guard.

    Happened last year with Beck over Beyonce (not that Beck is that old). Also happened with Herbie Hancock over Kanye and Amy Winehouse, the infamous year of Steely Dan over Eminem.

    If it happens this year, I think it’s likeliest to be Foo Fighters. They fit the Beck/Daft Punk mold of being edgy, cool-kid artists who evolved into establishment favorites. Foo Fighters are multiple nominees in the category, usually win a ton in the rock field, and they have added cachet from their HBO documentary. At this point, I think the award sooner goes to them than to Taylor or Kendrick.

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    OnTheAisle
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    #412670

    I wonder if both might fall victim to the recording academy bypassing what’s cool in favor of rewarding the old guard.

    I can easily see that occurring. Under that perspective, I think the release this week of eight time Grammy winner Don Henley’s solo project Cass County could be such a spoiler.

    Rolling Stone gave the possible AOTY contender four of five stars in its review published this week and reprinted below.

     

    Don Henley was country before it was cool, long before he was a singing, drumming and songwriting member of the Eagles. Cass County, his first solo album in 15 years, is named after the East Texas plains where Henley, now 68, grew up amid farming, oil rigs and the Southern radio crossfire of blues, gospel and honky-tonk music that produced rock & roll. Henley alludes to those roots and ideals in his true grit here — 11 original songs of working-stiff portraiture, broken-love autopsy and sunset-years judgment — along with a handful of rich-soil covers. They include the Louvin Brothers’ 1955 hit “When I Stop Dreaming,” Jesse Winchester’s rustic 1970 jewel “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” and the psychedelic-prairie waltz “She Sang Hymns Out of Tune,” originally a 1966 single by Jesse Lee Kincaid.

    A whole record of that rewind would have been an instructive pleasure. Instead, Henley has made an album of quietly defiant pure-country modernism. Written and produced with Stan Lynch, the original drummer in Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Cass County is meticulously crafted, sharply written and absolutely free of neo-country additives like reheated Seventies-rock bombast and Twitter-verse vernacular. The single mother slinging hash in “Waiting Tables,” the farmer staring at the sky in “Praying for Rain” and the overdue divorce at the center of “Take a Picture of This” are all framed by a rich, vintage minimum of strumming, steel-guitar tears and straightforward harmonies. “It’s the oldest form of suicide,” Henley warns in the saloon blues “Too Much Pride,” the kind of morality lesson you’d expect on an Eagles LP — except Henley cuts it more like the seasoned hardass romanticism of Merle Haggard.

    Haggard actually shows up on this album, taking a verse in “The Cost of Living” with brawny authority. But everything in the music serves the sting and solace in the tales. That goes for Henley’s parade of celebrity guests too. Many — like Alison Krauss, Trisha Yearwood and Lucinda Williams — serve in the backing chorales. Those who get a shot up front keep it short and poised. When Mick Jagger, a rare outright rocker here, takes a verse after Miranda Lambert in the cover of Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose,” it is with a striking restraint miles from his hayseed exaggeration in the Rolling Stones’ “Far Away Eyes.” A bonus: the plaintive breeze of his harmonica work.

    It’s worth remembering that the Eagles were really a singer-songwriters’ band with country flair. Thus the real stars on Cass County are Henley’s finely etched walking wounded in songs like “That Old Flame” and “Words Can Break Your Heart,” and his aged-like-whiskey tenor, which confronts and comforts with equal measure, sometimes in the same scene. Henley evokes his own wild days, after he left Texas, in the hard twang and speed of “Where I Am Now”: “I’ve done some foolish things/And I’ve been downright stupid.” But, he contends, “I made it through somehow/And I like where I am now.” Which, on this album, is home.

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    PoweR
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    #412671

    Have the Foo Fighters released an album? Hopefully, it’s not rewarded if it’s a middling album. I think with Beck, he had almost everything going for him – he was “cool,” a vet, overdue and the underdog all wrapped into one. I could see something like the Foo Fighters making it in and the committee stacking th deck for them to win it. I hope that doesn’t happen.

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #412672

    Have the Foo Fighters released an album? Hopefully, it’s not rewarded if it’s a middling album. I think with Beck, he had almost everything going for him – he was “cool,” a vet, overdue and the underdog all wrapped into one. I could see something like the Foo Fighters making it in and the committee stacking th deck for them to win it. I hope that doesn’t happen.

    Foo Fighters released “Sonic Highways” in November 2014. It doesn’t seem to have gotten great reviews, but it scored higher on MetaCritic than Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” (68 to 63), so winning Album of the Year definitely seems like a possibility.

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    PoweR
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    #412673

    [quote=”MusicLuva1″]

    Have the Foo Fighters released an album? Hopefully, it’s not rewarded if it’s a middling album. I think with Beck, he had almost everything going for him – he was “cool,” a vet, overdue and the underdog all wrapped into one. I could see something like the Foo Fighters making it in and the committee stacking th deck for them to win it. I hope that doesn’t happen.

    Foo Fighters released “Sonic Highways” in November 2014. It doesn’t seem to have gotten great reviews, but it scored higher on MetaCritic than Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” (68 to 63), so winning Album of the Year definitely seems like a possibility.
    [/quote]

    So, it’s one of those come and go albums. You have someone even more due than them: D’ Angelo. Are we underestimating him? Could he be the Beck of the year? The stories are almost the same; just different genres.

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    mikeboy898
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    #412674

    God, the more I think about Foo Fighters walking away with AOTY Grammy, the more I think it’s (sadly) a possibility……! They’ve never won and they sure fit the veteran status ala Beck last year.

    If Beyonce couldn’t win last year, Kendrick has no chance. I hope I’m proven wrong!

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    ProfessorChaos
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    #412675

    I like how people make it sound like Beck didn’t deserve to win on artistic merit. When I heard his “Blue Moon” single, I posted on these forums that he could make it in General categories.

     

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