ashley dean

G rammy nominees have been announced and everyone is complaining. "It's too mainstream," "these guys got snubbed" and "who the hell is that?" Apparently, no one likes the Grammys. As a no-less-subjective alternative, here are my own awards for 2012.

Grammy of My Heart: Best Coast. Bethany Cosentino's songwriting evolved from topics of boys and angst, to loneliness and substance abuse. It makes me want to give her a hug, tell her I get it, then go spend a day on the beach. She's also far more confident in her vocals and continues to be, in my book, a really cool chick. There's nothing revolutionary going on -- just catchy indie rock -- and I love it.

Album That Caused So Many Emotions: Channel Orange. Love, ennui, pity, sexiness, happiness and crushing sadness. That's just a sampling of what Frank Ocean makes me feel while listening to Channel Orange. From an objective standpoint, the music is excellent. Then Ocean doesn't just present his emotions, he makes you feel them, too. The pain in his voice on "Bad Religion" floors me every time.

Album I Won't Shut Up About: Shields. When someone asks me for a music recommendation, I usually tell them to listen to the new Grizzly Bear, and listen closely. Shields managed to surprise me at every turn. Grizzly Bear experimented with sound without losing all accessibility or sacrificing melody. It's beautiful and weird.

Song That Makes Me Go 'Fuckkkkkk': "Wasted Days." It's thrashing and yelling, then things get sparse and menacing before building back up into a meltdown of psychedelic hard rock. Then Cloud Nothings backs off again, only to explode one last time. The more Dylan Baldi shouts "I thought I would be more than this," the more I feel a little distressed myself. Just, damn.

Band I Wanna Hang With: Japandroids. Perhaps the best case to be made for hanging out with the Japandroids is the video for "The House That Heaven Built." It's pretty standard drinking and mischief, but the message is more "this is awesome" than "look how cool we are." They're the band you want to drink cheap beer and light things on fire with.

Band I'm Still Defending: Dirty Projectors. Call them pretentious, say they're trying too hard, whatever. There are fair arguments to be made. But with the release of Swing Lo Magellan, I'm back to fighting in favor of Dave Longstreth and company. It works in my/their favor that this record felt more laid-back, especially on the raw "Unto Caesar." The '70s rock guitar on "Offspring Are Blank" and the eerily pretty vocals on "About to Die" fortify my reasoning, too. Whatever you think of Longstreth as a person, he's a fascinating songwriter and his band is seriously talented.

Can't Stop Won't Stop: Azealia Banks. I can't and won't stop listening to Azealia Banks, and she can't and won't stop making music. She keeps pushing back the release of her full-length debut, Broke With Expensive Taste, but she's filling the void with a steady stream of singles, EPs and mixtapes. I still listen to "212" on an almost daily basis, and she keeps teaming up with top producers and changing up the sound for each release. No one's forgetting her name soon.