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How We Chose the Winners

To celebrate July 4th, the Phoenix presents our second-annual, state-by-state guide to the 50 best bands in the country

_BY daniel brockman, michael brodeur, lance gould, matt parish, and ryan stewart

Each year for the Fourth — when we’ve run out of bottle rockets to fire at tourists from our rooftop — we, the Phoenix edit staff, like to celebrate our independence by celebrating our independents. And that means scouring each of our great union’s states for their best emerging musical acts.

Of course, when you put those last four words in a row like that, you’re gonna have a lot of splainin’ to do. Allow us to walk you through the fine points of our selection process — and pre-empt your need to express-mail rotten tomatoes to our faces.

BEST As July 4 proves via beer and explosions, democracy is vital. It has, however, no place here. Our crack team of thick-spectacled, deep-eared writers spent months hunting and hours debating the music, merits, quirks, saving graces, tragic flaws, haircuts, and commitment to radness of each candidate. There was fighting, crying, and chair-dancing. (Looking for a good band in some of these places is like looking for nachos in Russia.) But the end result is a list that is, empirically speaking, impossible to fuck with. (Oh, and if it looks like our math sucks, it’s because we counted DC as a state — even if it’s more like a state of disrepair.)

EMERGING There’s a not-so-fine line between acts that are new to us and new to people of the states from which said acts were plucked. Some are in their teens, some have been at it for years. So, to avoid getting shit from everyone ever, we’ve generally abstained from use of the word “new” in favor of “emerging.” It also gives their rise to notoriety a bit more gravitas — like a virus, or Swamp Thing.

MUSICAL ACTS A melting pot of a nation requires a melting pot of a list. While we’re not gonna pretend that we are free of rockist markings, we did attempt to draw from as many genres as possible — we’ve got metal, rap, electronic, indie-pop, art-punk, Americana, and whatever the hell Capillary Action (see New York) counts as. We’ve also got solo artists masquerading as bands (Indiana, Vermont), and just plain soloists (Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi).

And there you have it. Be sure to visit this feature’s nifty Web component, which sports oodles of audio and video of our winning acts. Of course, we also welcome your grievances and/or kudos in comment form — if we totally missed the most awesome band in Des Moines or something, do let us know. (There’s always next year.)

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