Picked To Click VIII

It's an odd, autonomous, anomalous year for the 1998 City Pages New Music Poll.

I shouldn't say this, but this poll has become something of a contest to determine which new local buzz band will soon vanish from the face of the Earth. Shortly after their well-earned Picked to Click victories, Walt Mink (1991), Lily Liver (1994), 12 Rods (1996), and Brother Sun Sister Moon (1997) proceeded to (a) go deep underground; (b) move away; (c) take a long hiatus; or (d) some combination of the above. And in the wake of last year's poll, an entire subgenre--the Minne-contribution to the Great Electronica Scare of '97--began to take flight.

So is it back to the Dark Ages? Not at all. But one year after a PtC whose top five included the sunny pop of the Beatifics, the gospel-cum-funk Sensational Joint Chiefs, and free-jazzers Happy Apple, 1998's honor roll sounds just slightly plain. The number-two-placing Love-cars are not only the highest-scoring band to feature a working rock critic (occasional CP contributor James Diers), they're also a fairly strong alt-art-rock group. Their No Alternative labelmates American Paint are polite, by-the-numbers country-rockers.

The 'lectronics ain't totally gone: Run Westy Run's Kirk Johnson nabs third place with his Beckian roots-jive band So-So, while discofaerie Ana Voog and her trance-dance cohorts Ousia share most of a three-way tie for fifth. New hip hop keeps on bubbling up, with 12 points collectively going out to the Rhyme Sayers crew as a whole, and an additional 20 points doled out to RS members Native Ones, the DynoSpectrum, Kanser, Sixth Sense, and Atmosphere and Beyond.

Daniel Corrigan

And then there's the poll-topping Odd, the noisiest Picked to Click victor since Hammerhead in 1992, and (with hits including "Street Fuck" and "Wet Pussy") definitely the nastiest. Not that I find the Odd's ascent too surprising: Their Stooges-influenced mod-rock continues an extensive lineage of cacophonous retro bands, from the Mighty Mofos to the Spectors.

Frankly, the main lesson to learn from 1998's results is that it's still anybody's game. As a chart, this year's poll would look like a gorgeous, evenly sloping bell curve, with the zenith--the Odd's 20 points--lower by far than any in PtC history (in 1997, four bands did better). And if visionary voter Rod Smith had given Ousia five points as he did last year, they'd have won it. Translation: No single new band is on the tip of everyone's tongue right now, though that could change in a year--or a week.

Unfortunately, we do have the Curse to reckon with. (Confidential to the Odd: Watch it.) But maybe the jinx is actually a charm in disguise: The physical disappearance of the last two years' victors, 12 Rods and Brother Sun Sister Moon, did coincide with both bands signing big-time deals with megalabels. Fellow PtC toppers Guzzard (1993), Walt Mink, and Hammerhead are no more, but Lily Liver is back, and their debut disc should finally be uncorked this year. So there.

HOW IT WORKS: We asked 42 people--writers, musicians, radio and label types, and just plain fans--to send in their top five new local bands, artists, DJs, etc. of the last year. Each number-one ranking is given five points; each number two gets four points; and so on. The acts that received more than five points are ranked below. Special thanks to everyone who voted and sent additional comments. Our judges' individual ballots, along with those comments, follow the results.

One disclaimer: Because our poll is traditionally scheduled to coincide with the Minnesota Music Awards, and since the celebration this year moved from August to April, the 1998 poll had a gestation period of a mere nine months. But we decided to ignore the shortened year and let the chips fall where they may.

The Results

1. The Odd (20)
2. Love-cars (19)
3. So-So (18)

4. American Paint (17.5)
5. Ana Voog, The Autumn Leaves, Ousia (16)
6.The Minx (15)
7. Autonomous, Mary Nail (13)
8. Brits Out of America, Lunar 9, Rhyme Sayers Collective (12)
9. Florida (10)
10. Bobby Llama,
Freedom Fighters (9)

HONORABLE MENTIONS: ARKOLOGY, Janis Figure, Native Ones, Selby Tigers, Animal Chin, Anomaly, Little Buddy, Reba Fritz, Slalom, Slumper, Patrick Tanner & the Faraway Men, Vanguard, Matt Wilson

The Picked to Click Judges Read The Verdict

Brent Ashley, Amphetamine Reptile:
1. Selby Tigers 2. The Odd 3. The Short Fuses 4. Foilin' the Works 5. Murderapolis.

Lynne Bengtson, Fine Line Music Cafe:
1. (tie) Umbrella Bed, Three Minute Hero 3. Bobby Llama 4. Red Shadow Chorus 5. LeRoy Smokes Big Band.

Amy Carlson, The Minnesota Daily:
1. Slumper 2. So-So 3. Freedom Fighters 4. Cole Younger Band 5. The Pushbacks.
An appropriate title for most of my picks might be "Best New Bands Featuring Local Rock Veterans." Top pick, hands down: Slumper, an exciting, tight, rock 'n' roll quartet led by former Beyond Zebra members Jason Logan and Grant Johnson. Throw in drummer John Gerlach (Big Red Ball, Dutch Oven) and Soul Asylum soundman Eric Pierson, and you've got the best new band no one has heard yet. Run Westy Run's Kirk Johnson makes So-So--a funky electronic/rock outfit--a close second, mainly because of his stream-of-consciousness rap/spoken-word lyrics. Pop punksters the Freedom Fighters and country rockers the Cole Younger Band are the freshest faces on my list, and it wouldn't be complete without unstoppable ex-Magnolia John Freeman's new contribution to the scene, the Pushbacks.

James Cook, Lick:
1. Probable Cause 2. Little Buddy 3. DJ Bionic 4. Dazy Head Mazy 5. DJ Code Blue.
Minneapolis music is in a serious slump, and you really have to search in order to find quality and innovation. Often, you have to go underground and find the folks that are hungry--literally starving--because they're the ones that are down for the music. Anyway, Probable Cause is hip hop, representing Uptown. DJ Bionic is sexy and her beats open up cans of whoop-ass! DJ Code Blue and the whole Jungle Vibe Collective are also on the rise.

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