This award, honoring a band that was always good but could always have been better, goes to:
Good Bad Not Evil
The Black Lips
The Black Lips have heretofore been known best as a live act, with stories about urine-drinking and Tijuana prostitutes making them as much an urban legend as they are a rock band. With three studio records and one live album under their belt, The Black Lips had plenty to look back on happily (I won't go quite as far as saying "something to be proud of," because I'm just trying to imagine what their grandparents are thinking). They've made themselves one of the biggest name on the garage rock circuit. And at long last, they have finally made a record that I can describe with enthusiasm rather than one that I describe with a disinterested, "it's pretty good." Garage rock often falls into this pit of pointless self-destruction where bands go into the studio and make an album, and decide that despite the reality that they're already playing their songs really sloppily through shitty equipment, they perform in joints where some guy just pissed out three pitchers of Pabst into the PA (cough*), and they want the album to sound just like that. So they deliberately shred the recording, and half the time it just sounds like twenty minutes of someone farting into a vocoder. Not only does it not sound good, it comes off as pretentious because we all know that they had to intentionally do that in with the production, rather than just letting it sound bad in its own way. The Black Lips finally realized that the songs they write are pretty entertaining, and it's enough just to play them really sloppily through bad equipment. They are still every bit as ridiculous and immature as they always were, and the songs are as good if not better than before, it's just now that you can hear it so much better. They now sound like someone I'd stick around to see play, even after seeing someone piss out three pitchers of Pabst into the PA.
*Disclaimer: I have never seen anyone piss on the PA at the Mutiny. As far as I recall, I don't remember seeing anyone piss anywhere outside of the bathroom at the Mutiny. This is completely hypothetical. I'm just saying their sound system sounds like that, and I wouldn't be surprised if it had happened.