By Chris Parker
By Jesse Marx
By John Baichtal
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Jesse Marx
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Tatiana Craine
By Judy Keen
--Christina Schmitt, musician;
2. Dosh (31)
GENRE: PANSONIC YOUTH
Dosh possesses a keen, enterprising musical mind. Watching him perform solo is like watching a juggling act where some of the balls are dropping and it's still so exciting that you keep rooting for the guy.
--Ben Durrant, musician; owner/
engineer, Crazy Beast Studio
3. Ashtray Hearts (22)
GENRE: I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART...AND YOUR GUITAR STRINGS
Finding alt-country a snooze? Yeah, me too. That is, until the Ashtray Hearts invited me to eavesdrop at their worn apartment door, allowing me to digest slow, gentle tales of disappointment and regret that are centered on the heart. The results: a beautiful, melancholy delight perfect for those lonely autumn days and cold winter nights.
Sweet J.A.P. (tie)
GENRE: ALL THE WORLD'S A STOOGE
What's so sweet about five sweaty rockers writhing on the floor, screaming in your face, falling into one another onstage, and peeling off their clothes? Everything.
--Kate Silver, freelance writer
4. Fog (21)
GENRE: APOCALYPSE NOW (EPIC
INDIE ROCK LATER)
Armed with a guitar, spasm-inducing turntable skills, an ear for beats, and an ability to weave it all together with ragged vocals and scraps of noise, Fog plays the soundtrack to being a lonely soul stuck in impersonal urbanity (i.e., Minneapolis in the midst of winter). Following this year's Check Fraud 12-inch and late-summer touring across the U.S. of A., the band is tight and ready to lead late-fall apartment dwellers in song. Everyone now: "Is this depression or disease/Tell it to the millipedes..."
--Mark Baumgarten, editor, Lost Cause
5. The C.O.R.E. (17)
GENRE: MORE SWING, LESS BLING
They dance, which rappers aren't supposed to do. They're funny, which "righteous" types aren't supposed to be. They're "street," too, because of where their social concerns lie, not how they're supposed to come off. They believe in more than themselves, and they are beginning to entertain more than themselves. That's enough happy surprises for five bands.
--Peter S. Scholtes, staff writer,
6. Signal to Trust (15)
GENRE: I KILLED FIVE GRIZZLY BEARS WITH MY NAKED HANDS TO BRING YOU THIS ROCK
For anyone who ever went exploring in weather that would freeze nostril hairs into a solid block of ice, has watched the Shackleton IMAX 30 times, or thinks that punk rock is the only thing that pulses with John Muir's posthumous howl: This band's for you.
--Melissa Maerz, music editor,
Vicious Vicious (tie)
GENRE: MUSIC TO MAKE LOVE, SWEET LOVE, TO YOUR OLD LADY BY
Rather than being predictable when he performs, Mr. Vicious (a.k.a. Erik Appelwick) plays shows like emotional swings: One moment he's all high jinks and humor, the next he's just killing you with a lovelorn little tune about a long-awaited reunion. Some cheeky lyrical gags are steeped in his lounge-pop melodies, but those tender little ballads just give him away.
--Marcie Hill, freelance writer
A Whisper in the Noise (tie)
GENRE: ORCHESTRAL MANEUVERS
IN THE DARK
A Whisper in the Noise is the sonic equivalent of a light going out. No matter, frontman West Thordson seems to be having a lot of fun in the dark. His brooding orchestral soundscapes, tinged with a cold sweetness, are hopeful at heart--a message to those still fumbling for the switch.
7. Divorcee (14)
GENRE: WHO HASN'T CRIBBED AN ACCENT FROM MONTY PYTHON?
Divorcee's music is smeared with such a thick coat of brilliant, shimmering Britpop that it's hard to believe they're from Minneapolis and not Manchester.
--Paul Sand, music editor,
the Minnesota Daily
Editor's note: As Simon Peter Groebner once noted, "this poll has become something of a contest to determine which new local buzz band will soon vanish from the face of the Earth." This year it's Divorcee: The group disbanded before this poll went to press.
GENRE: QUIET RIOT
Finally, Wendy Lewis makes clear her transformation from vocalist to channeler of the ethereal inspirations that have shadowed her through her stints in Rhea Valentine and Mary Nail. Dangerous stuff, this wailing for the spirits of melancholy and desire. Fortunately for Lewis, drummer Matt Novachis, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, bassist Michael Lewis and wind man Greg Lewis are strong enough to be her band. Together they wield a force born of poignantly minimal melodies, thunderous percussion, and ambiguous keys and time signatures, wrenching messages from beyond.
8. Askeleton (12)
GENRE: GENERATING NEW ORDER
Knol Tate's melodic instincts--along with his use of textures that recall the Architecture and Morality/Dazzle Ships-era of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark--have led to one of the strongest debut releases in recent memory.
--Keith Moran, label owner,
Guilt Ridden Pop
Michael Yonkers (tie)
GENRE: WHAT A LONG, STRANGE TRIP IT'S BEEN
Yonkers's debut LP Microminature Love--which I released--was recorded 30-plus years ago, and probably sounds fresher today. This thing made me shudder harder than a barbed-wire enema. In a great year for psych reissues--with Public Nuisance and Rocket From the Tombs getting the lion's share of media attention--its Yonkers's LP that is the real boon.