For a town that is not only small but that can also boast one of the more insular music communities on earth, it’s pretty insane how many albums are either produced locally or released by local acts. But in a world where the norm seems to stray further from actual record releases and into a pseudo-throwback era of singles, how important are these complete albums? As it turns out, they’re very important; at least in the eyes of santafe.com’s Andrew Kastner and Todd Lovato (also of experimental banjo-driven alt.rock duo Todd & the Fox).
Y’see, for the last couple years Kastner and Lovato have presided over the Hutton Broadcasting website’s Best Santa Fe Albums awards, and for 2013, they’re shaking things up. Here’s how it works:
1 From now until Friday, Dec. 27, people from the community can go to bit.ly/bestsantafealbums and vote for up to five of their favorite locally produced/released records of 2013. According to Lovato there have been about 170 unique voters thus far with a cumulative total of around 450 individual albums. Woah, that’s a lot. “When we started out this year I kept thinking that there weren’t enough local albums released in 2013 to make the competition work, but there are, and what comes out of that is there are a lot of people making records that we wouldn’t have even heard about and yet here they are,” says Lovato.
2 Once the initial votes are tallied and a shortlist of “winners” has been put together, an as-of-yet unassembled panel of local music experts (people like Rob DeWalt, theendofbeing. com’s Red Cell, yours truly and a few others) will discuss the merits of each record and hopefully come to a unanimous decision on what local album or albums deserve such a prestigious honor. Winners will be announced Friday, Jan. 3.
3 “The last thing we wanted was for the whole thing to turn into a popularity contest,” Lovato points out. “Submissions are open to the public, yes, but we don’t care if you’re the most popular band in Santa Fe, if your record is poorly mastered or the quality isn’t up to par, it won’t automatically win simply because you have a larger fanbase than someone else.” What’s especially cool about the specifics of this year’s competition is that without being beholden to a popular vote, the panel of music champs who make the decision will each come to the table with different tastes and wants when it comes to music. For example, Red Cell states that he is, “a firm believer in heart over mastery…it isn’t always just about production values.” With multiple viewpoints comes great responsibility for sure, but if and when such a diverse lineup comes together over a handful of locally released records, you can pretty much be sure the music is going to be killer.
4 Once the winners are announced and the bragging rights have bred insufferable egos and/or a cripplingly smug sense of selfsatisfaction among the local music community, a showcase concert featuring the top 10 artists will blow everybody’s minds. Lovato says they’re working out the logistics and vetting venues as we speak, and details will be made available shortly after the winners are made known. SFR will probably remind you, too.
So what can you, Reporter reader and huge fan of Alex De Vore, do? Well, not only can you head to the aforementioned website to rep your favorite local albums of the year, but you can help to add variety to the mix. “I’d like to see some more traditional local records pick up traction…maybe some Tejano or mariachi music,” Lovato says.
In other words, if a local album came out in 2013 and you think it deserves attention it hasn’t received, get on that immediately! In a year that brought great releases from the likes of Brian Mayhall, Evarusnik, As In We, Luke Carr, Boris McCutcheon, Mi, Meagan Chandler, Flamingo Pink, D Numbers, Bill Palmer’s TV Killers, Rumelia and many more, there’s bound to be a lot of stiff competition.