What a release

The 11 ‘Outstanding Album/Release’ Sammies nominees

Check out this week’s Sammies nominees guide, inside this paper, for more information on the 2009 Sacramento Area Music Awards. Vote online at www.sammies.com.

Aquifer, Room for Growth. “Aquifer is what you’d call experimental hip-hop, for lack of a better term. Their witty, sometimes depressing lyrics are fastened together by dusty samples that at times sound like rapping over an antique-store music box.” (“Beats by bearded hillbilly scientists for world peace” by Josh Fernandez; SN&R Sound Advice; November 13, 2008)

Dance Gavin Dance, self-titled. At one point this pivotal release by suburban Sacramento’s most popular band was rumored to have been called the Death Star Album. “Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine,” a freakishly high-energy screamo ode to Donnie Darko and the increasingly ubiquitous pharmacopeia in most teenagers’ medicine cabinets, is the album’s calling card: loud and in your face post-hardcore. (Nick Miller)

Flossalini, Flossalini Is My Homeboy. “With influences like the classic New York lyricist Rakim and the slain West Coast icon Mac Dre, the boundaries of the often-divided hip-hop scene don’t limit Flossalini. His diverse résumé is proof of that.” (“Don’t shoot!” by Josh Fernandez; SN&R Music; October 23, 2008)

Justin Farren, Songs From Spare Rooms. “If you’ve been to a Justin Farren show, you’ve probably been treated to a night of funny banter, laughter and exceptional songwriting. Farren is an observationalist in the truest sense.” (“Weezy vs. Farren” by Josh Fernandez, SN&R Sound Advice, March 5)

Matthew Gerken, Christian Kiefer, Jefferson Pitcher; Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies. “Of Great and Mortal Men opens with a Revolutionary War drum cadence and accompanying flute melody, which cuts away to ‘Washington Dreams of the Hippopotamus,’ a folk-rock tale on our most famous founding father. … It’s a clever, catchy opener that neither deifies nor disrespects our first president. It just nibbles at him.” (“Songs of Great and Mortal Men” by Nick Miller; SN&R Arts&Culture; September 4, 2008)

Middle Class Rut, MC Rut. “While many compare the band to the harder bands of yesteryear (à la Rage Against the Machine and Tool), their sound certainly stands out in this age of jovial alt-folk and dream-synth-pop; MC Rut is much heavier, more relentless than what we’re used to. Especially for a two-piece.” (“Stuck in the middle” by Josh Fernandez; SN&R Arts&Culture; May 29, 2008)

Pete B., Beans & Rice.Beans & Rice is a literary celebration of hip-hop culture from the perspective of a Mexican. [Pete B.] simply throws all the ingredients—graffiti, emceeing, soul music—into a pot and makes a hearty menudo.” (“Beans & Rice, but with guts” by Josh Fernandez, SN&R Music, January 15)

Ricky Berger, Ricky Berger’s First Album. Not many albums whisk you away to that proverbial “happy place,” but Ricky Berger’s First Album can take you there, if you let it, where innocent pop-jazz stylings, sincere vocals and melancholy ukulele musings will have you forgetting about the stress of Sacramento life. (Nick Miller)

Silver Darling, Your Ghost Fits My Skin. “Silver Darling, a local alt-country and folk [outfit], is straight-up Americana: honest, true … vintage and ethereal.” (“Silver age” by Nick Miller; SN&R Music; April 17, 2008)

The Other Poets, T.he O.ther P.oets. “[T]he highlight was ‘Revenge of the MC,’ expertly produced by Prozak, scratched by DJ Rated R and rapped in an old-school-meets-the-future style by T.O.P. The song, like a few of the other cuts from the ambitious album, is captivating from start to finish.” (“Youth gone wild” by Josh Fernandez, SN&R Sound Advice, January 1)

Zach Hill, Astrological Straits. Zach Hill wrote, composed and produced his first solo effort right here in Midtown, and it’s a landmark Sacramento album by a musician who sees sounds and feels beats unlike anyone that’s pounded this urban milieu before. Epic. (Nick Miller)