Ballot crunching

Don’t be an uneducated BMP voter
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  April 5, 2006

Don’t be ashamed if you’re intimidated by the Best Music Poll ballot. It’s a lot to digest. Even the most rabid of local music fans will find a category or two with bands that are only remotely familiar. That’s the point, really.

Best Music Poll is meant to be a showcase of the wide variety of music that populates our fair city and that’s why we hope you see the ballot online as an opportunity — a challenge, really. If our staff music nerds have deemed a band worthy of nomination, after much deliberation and consultation with outside music nerds, surely that band must be worth some of your time. Get online ( is your best bet, just type in, get out to the clubs, or get down to Bull Moose and check these guys out, for your own sakes.

But maybe you need a little incentive. So, for the sake of whetting your whistles, here is a brief primer to the ballot’s major categories:

BEST ACT Though it may be self-evident, this category is meant to anoint the town’s best band. The reigning champions are Paranoid Social Club, so we’ll start with them. PSC released their debut mid-major label, self-titled disc last August, and their live show is generally punctuated by random antics, costumes, and visits to the crowd by frontman Dave Gutter, who also took home the Best Male Vocalist Bimpie last year. As the local band generally considered to have the best draw, they’ve got to be the frontrunners to repeat this year. You’ll like them if you’re into Weezer or the Offspring, with emphasis on smart lyrics and a killer rhythm section.

Paranoid face stiff competition, though. As Fast As might peak a little too late. Their Octone Records debut doesn’t hit until May 23, after voting is well over, though a single might go to radio just as we are finishing up balloting. Fronted by Spencer Albee (who used to play in Rustic Overtones with Gutter), this is a pop-rock band for pop-rock fans. If you’re into the Who, Beatles, Kinks, or maybe even Boston, this is your band. The songs are instant singalongs, with toe-tapping back-beats and lovely harmonies. Do you have the latest Greetings from Area Code 207 disc? Then you know how good is “So Good.”

But that means you’ve also heard “Be the Boss,” and the wonder that is Phantom Buffalo. With an emphasis on the “indie,” these guys are the epitome of the underground indie-pop movement that has seen punk and art-rock fans graduating to soaring choruses and bouncy melodies. Have you discovered Belle & Sebastian or Nada Surf (no, not just the “Popular” song)? Then why the hell aren’t you a huge Phantom Buffalo fan? PB likely won’t pick up the votes they deserve because their fans will feel themselves above a voting competition such as this.

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