So now we begin our second annual BEST list. For those of you new to this game, this is when we SP Editors ascribe ourselves the role of ultimate local tastemaker and then tell you everything you SHOULD know about local Music, Food, Arts, and Culture.
Or we could go with the real story and be straight with you for once. We want to do this — we want to point out local institutions that do a thing or two to distinguish themselves by doing something interesting or extra special. And we want you to give us feedback about what you agree with and where you think we're totally off our rocker. But when we decided to call this BEST, we assumed you would realize that this was meant with tongue inserted into cheek. This is our way of giving some local businesses and artists a little extra spank on the ass for the good work they do. It is solely based on our (and your) opinions and should not be taken as some sort of be all end all of what's what in this town. There will be no plaques or speeches. In other words, this is one way of pointing out the fun and extraordinary things going on in our community, but let's not take this all too seriously.
And to further deflect your "who do you think you are criticisms," we're turning the mirror on you, dear readers, for our music editors gave you the opportunity to join this little BEST thing. So without further adieu, here are the results of our very first readers poll.
Readers Picks BEST Music
BEST Rock Band - The Dirty Feathers
There are a lot of great rock bands in C-U, but our readers clearly decided they wanted to emphasize ROCK 'N ROLL with this choice. The Dirty Feathers have come pretty far in just one year as a band and their recent 7" proves their songs keep their live kick when recorded. Overall this was our closest category as Grandkids, Delta Kings and Elsinore all tied at a very close second.
BEST Album - The Palace Flophouse - Bad Friends Forever / Elsinore - Yes Yes Yes
Both Elsinore and the Palace Flophouse know what they want, and how to go about achieving it. While they have their sonic differences, at their hearts, they're both direct, to the point pop records, and we mean that in the purest sense — knowing how to write a great song is not a crime. The Leadership's Frontiers was a not-too-distant second (third?).
BEST Radio Station - WPGU
WPGU remains a favorite among readers, and it hard to argue against WPGU as the best station for current rock 'n roll. The station has long been a mainstay of youthful radio fans by playing rock for the college kids. And they possibly pulled in a few votes from older fans with their Flashback Café, which regularly features some fantastic older music. But we're pretty sure "alternative" doesn't mean much anymore, so can't we do away with that whole branding thing? In this category, WEFT came in second and The WHIP came in the third.
BEST New Band - Easter
BEST EP - Easter Demonstration
We're going to be totally honest with you, when we first saw the numbers coming in for Easter in these categories, we guessed that some ballot stuffing was going on. But then we actually listened to the band on its bandcamp page, and you will get zero argument from us on these choices. We'll be damned if this one man band fronted by Kyle Lang isn't a revelation. Clearly influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel, the Demonstration EP is a pretty amazing testament of raw talent. The first song alone, "All the People I Love the Most," should leave little doubt that there is probably a pretty bright future for Mr. Lang. The Leadership, who also deserve some big accolades for their first year and their debut album Frontiers, came in second for best new band. Grandkids Sisterwalls and The Dirty Feathers 7" came in second and third, respectively for EPs. This is definitely a case of an excess of riches all around.
BEST Blues Band - Kilborn Alley
We have a feeling that until they decide to call it quits, Kilborn Alley will continue to dominate this category. And with good reason, they are one of the best blues bands in the country. Period. It's easy to overlook their great work (see our top twenty songs list from last year), but they continue to put on great live shows, release fantastic albums and grow really great beards. The Sugar Prophets, who got big kudos for their performance at the 2011 International Blues Challenge, finished second in the readers poll.
BEST Jazz Band - Jazz Sandwich
Jeff Helgesen by himself came in second with Bossa Nuevo third.
BEST Live Band - The Dirty Feathers
We are obviously blessed in this town to have a lot of bands that know how to dial it up to eleven. But The Dirty Feathers' live show appeals to those of us who like big guitar solos, bleeding ears, shamfastic keyboard and lots of whiskey. Bonus points for doing such a spot on imitation of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as Kayla Brown's backup band at the Great Cover Up. Elsinore, whose live show continues to improve every year, tied for second with the unstoppable energy of the Diamond Stretch.
BEST Live Venue - Mike 'n Molly's
Followed closely by the Canopy Club and Cowboy Monkey, both tied for second. Third place, and the highest rated non-traditional venue, was The Dan Akroyd House.
BEST Punk/Hardcore Band - The Fresh Kills
The Fresh Kills are becoming to local punk what Kilborn Alley is to local blues — the local institution by which all others are judged. After growing their fan base with the appropriately titled Turn Up the Brilliance in 2010, the band is currently recording a follow up record. The Diamond Stretch, who released a very good EP last year came in second, followed closely by We Must Dismantle All This.
BEST Radio DJ - Lonesome Larry from The Whip
Whip General Manager and morning host Lonesome Larry is the pick for best local radio station DJ. Hard to argue with selecting the person who is the most noticeable voice and hardest worker at one the best radio stations in the country for blues, bluegrass and traditional country music. E-tiger and Greg (Grego) Clow from WPGU came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
BEST Americana/Folk - Delta Kings
This is kind of a weird pick, but we suppose we can also kind of see it. Grandkids came in second for their folk tendencies. Local live favorites The Prairie Dogs came in third.
BEST Hip Hop - Jay Moses
Jay Moses stands out once again. Krukid came in second, though "we have this here?" actually got the second most votes.
BEST Singer/Songwriter - Kayla Brown
Kayla Brown does not get mentioned enough around here, but she keeps working hard and earning a dedicated following through transcendent live shows. Last year's Steady Now was an overlooked local gem. We're not afraid to admit that we overlook her too often, but the readers have spoken on this one. Ben Campbell and Megan Johns tied for second.
BEST Dance Night - Dubstep Masquerade
Followed closely by Dubstep Massacre and Salsa night at Radio Maria.
BEST DJ - Mertz
Belly and Positive Vibr8tions came in second here. Milk 'n Cookies also got a lot of votes, though many voters did not refer to them by exactly that name.
BEST Live Show - Castevet at Dude Ranch, March 5th
This was a pretty insanely epic show, but I think there were like 400 more people at Janelle Monae (the second place vote-getter). I guess the biggest (arguably, anyways) twinkly punk band in the country playing a living room was inspiring enough to get people voting.
Okay, so we can't turn it all over to you. We had to make a few picks, though we're trying to stay away from the big, obvious categories that we covered last year.
BEST Facebook Page by a Local Band - Vanattica
As music editors we "like" just about every local band's Facebook page we can, and as such, we've kind of gotten to be experts on who uses it well. Though the fellas in Vanattica haven't been maintaining their page as well of late, there was a long period where they would pose several inane questions to their fans each and every day. And they really continue to do a very good job of engaging their fans. In addition to many other things, the band used Facebook to post a very distasteful Christmas song and solicit their fans for donations to create a t-shirt and rewarded them by "literally" putting their faces on their band t-shirt in their annual "Be on a Vanattica T-shirt" thing.
BEST Usage of Twitter - @Grandkidsmusic
We really wanted to give this one to @UrbanaHipster, but Grandkids just do it too well. We really like the way each band member gets worked into the page, and doubly like the twice-baked potato recipes. Also, #VIVSDRUNK
BEST Continuing Trend - House Shows
This local music scene continues to see the boon of local house shows around town, including all those excellent punk/DIY house shows named after famous people. But the scene continues to expand with Geppetto's Workshop putting on shows and then putting up many of the recordings. And some of the best touring acts for people of certain age go straight through the living room of The Sandwich Life. We're sure there are many we are missing here, but the whole point of this scene is to be in the know, and we admit that we aren't always "in."