Everybody Wins

Polls and punditry for the best new bands in town

I haven't slept well lately. The couple next door are shouting more loudly than usual about who was supposed to lock the door; the stoners downstairs are on day 5,000 of their all-night jam band/free-love sessions; and every night, some hissing animal seems to get hit by a passing car right outside my window. Last night, I turned up Arvo Pärt's Alina to turn down the noise in my head, but right when the good dreams kicked in, I woke up to a violin chiming quietly on the last track. This was exactly what happened the first time I heard Alina; maybe I'm doomed forever to jerk back into consciousness whenever that final composition begins. Listening to a song for the first time can set an alarm off inside you, and those bells will go off every time you hear it.

New bands issued that wake-up call many times in the past 12 months. I heard it during Monarques' exciting debut performance at the Triple Rock last summer, when the light from a disco ball spun around the band's fuzzy guitars. Now I feel that same dizziness every time Radio K plays the band's single. It's the thrill of the new: Tema Stauffer experienced it when she photographed new artists in their favorite hangouts around town (see "Rock Stars in Their Natural Habitats". Peter S. Scholtes found it when he scoped out rising rappers in Twin Cities hip-hop showcases (see "Blazin' on $20 a Day"). Jim Walsh tries to explain it in "Huh? Whazzat? Contact!", an essay that examines why falling for a band for the first time still inspires all the giddiness of a junior high crush. And Chuck Terhark felt the buzz when he wrote about this year's Picked to Click winners in "It's All Good," --then again, the six-pack that Monarques bought for him couldn't have hurt.

But we're not the only ones who have given in to infatuations. Seventy-two voters--more than we've ever had in any year of Picked to Click--agreed to cast ballots for their favorite new local bands. We're pleased to add new names to last year's list of contributors. Maybe they'll feel nostalgic for this season's bands when they're filling out next year's ballot. You never forget your first time. -- Melissa Maerz



Tired of explaining to local musicians that we'll write about how brilliant they are on stage as soon as they write about how brilliant we are in bed, City Pages recently commissioned the world's top scientist to formulate a super-secret equation. The mathematician's mission: to create a program that would objectively and with absolute certainty calculate the best band in town. Unfortunately, we discovered that, once created, the equation was useless to us: We rock 'n' roll types never learned to count past "one, two, three, four." So instead, we asked a panel of 72 local experts--music critics, record store employees, radio personalities, record label owners--to cast their ballots for their top five new local bands, DJs, or solo artists. Together, they selected more than 150 acts; we know this because we forced our intern, Brianna Riplinger--who, uh, may or may not be the "world's top scientist" mentioned above--to do the math.

For each ballot, the number one choice received five points, the number two choice four points, etc. Bands who tied for fifth place got half a point each. For ballots where the voters chose not to order their picks, each band received three points. And if you need to know more than that, talk to the Excel spreadsheet.

Below are the top 10 acts (actually 12, owing to ties), with comments from our poll participants. Thanks to everyone who voted- -we're glad we could count on you. Or at least on your fingers and toes.


1. Monarques (69)

What The Voters Say: "Never mind the ballots. Judging from the hullabaloo dogging these recondite anti-wannabes, you'd think the very forces of nature conspired to enthrone them. A healthy chunk of Monarques' charm lies in their instinct for melody; in England, they'd be a pop band. Here, they meta-rock like tomorrow happened yesterday. Imagine a sonorous golden thread stretched from Les Paul to Autechre, passing in its trajectory through the Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, Television, and Slint. Knot the thread as many times as possible until you're holding a perfect sphere. Then, and only then, listen to it sing." --Rod Smith, freelance writer


2. Haley Bonar (49)

What The Voters Say: "I used to love me a good folk singer, until I realized that most of them are boring as hell. So imagine my surprise when I first heard Duluth sensation Haley Bonar at the NorShor Theater back in February--plucking timidly away on her acoustic guitar and rhapsodizing about falling in love--and found that I wasn't compelled to stuff earplugs down my eustachian tubes. Bonar also plays a mean Rhodes, and the haunting instrument perfectly complements her charming melodies about cowboys and dead lovers, drawing from her wild imagination as well as her real-life nightmares." --Erin Anderson, freelance writer

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