Gremmy Awards 2023: Rest of the Best

Gremmy Awards 2023: Rest of the Best

Oh no. It's pretty much June and I haven't finished the Gremmys. I got sidetracked, a little burnt out,time to shove this out the door. This is my category for things that felt worth mentioning for whatever reason or another. I often highlight outstanding EPs in this section, but since it's gotten this far behind and that's the most time-consuming part, I'm forgoing it. These are probably the least serious categories, a lot of them don't exist from year-to-year. Anyway, let's do it.

Label of the Year

MuSick Recordings

MuSick Recordings

While I wouldn't say the 2023 was a dull year by any stretch, if I stack up any surf label's yearly releases against output in previous years, I think the results are a little more subdued. Sometimes the stars just don't align. I'd say the label with the most aligned stars was MuSick. Art Bourasseau has always seemed to run his label with a quality over quantity focus, but he also sure has picked up the pace in recent years, with a slurry of high-profile legacy releases and a few unexpected smaller names. It feels like there has been a plan unfolding in front of our eyes, and while 2023 doesn't tell the whole story (2022 was a big one for them), it certainly feels like the scheme is fully engaged, with releases from resurrected Pollo Del Mar, arguably biggest record of the year from The Bomboras, a long-overdue debut LP from Los Grainders, and a bit of a curtain pull-back on Draculina with her self-titled EP. With a promised Draculina full-length and a Fathoms comeback record announced for 2024, it seems the plan still has some more phases, but we'll keep our eyes peeled for that.

Worst Album Art

The Doltones - Sound Recycle Machine

The Doltones - Sound Recycle Machine

I generally try to keep things positive, but this truly felt worth a mention. It looks like it was sketched in MS Paint, shows dangerously high use of the gradient tool, and even indulges in the eye-rolling surf tradition of hating on rap. I will say this, though: I'll take the crudely sketched campy charm of this over AI generated sameness. I don't even hate it, I like a lot of bad things! And the album is pretty good too!

The "Thanks for Being a Pal" Award

Sundazed Logo

Sundazed Music

We all know that surf isn't popular, not a money-maker, not much more than guitar dorkery. Sundazed Records is out there reissuing major-label releases that pop up in Top 50 Records of All Time lists, but still go out of their way to release three-ish (some are leaning more towards garage) records of surf material in 2023. That includes the previously unreleased Chantays - A Dawning Sun LP, Surfin' the Great Lakes (Kay Banks Studio) compilation, and The Vaqueros - 80 Foot Wave. I'll be honest, none of these were huge hits with me, but all of them had moments and deserved to exist. Thanks to Sundazed for continuing to serve the niche.

Compilation of the Year

Surfin Burt's Surfin Safari

While modern surf music is doing just fine, thank you, the pace sure has slowed with digging up the vintage stuff. Sure, we have our aforementioned pals at Sundazed digging up things that never saw that light of day, but there is still plenty of surf music out there in the wild that hasn't found its way to compilations. Check those 45s, y'all! Or don't, leave them for me! Anyway, Surfin' Burt's compilation here not only does that, but includes zero tracks that I've heard before, and, most importantly, they're all really good.

Best Cover Album

The Routes - Reverberation Addict

Last year The Routes fulfilled something that I long thought should happen: a surf tribute to Kraftwerk. Well then they came right back and did it again with a less likely band: The Buzzcocks. I could only think of one Buzzcocks surf cover before this record (but it's a great one), and just like they did with Kraftwerk, The Routes looked at these songs in completely different ways, turning these melodies into something fresh and new instead of karaoke backing tracks. What's next?

Runner up:

once again took aim at my millenial childhood, covering some deep-cut favorites like Harvey Danger and some daring r&b songs that you wouldn't expect played surf-style.

Best New Band Name

Fuzzy Loom

It doesn't really evoke surf, but it's fun!

That's it! Thanks for all of you that enjoy The Gremmys. Even though I burnt out at the end this year, I enjoy doing them and I bet it will continue to be stupidly long and overwrought.


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