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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Reader Top 20/Next 20; Slowdown history, Darker My Love tonight...

So here's The Reader's official list of the Top 20 bands of '08, along with the next 20:

The Reader Top 20
Brad Hoshaw (7 Deadlies)
Black Squirrels
Brimstone Howl
Conor Oberst
Eagle Seagull
The Faint
Filter Kings
Flowers Forever
Mal Madrigal
McCarthy Trenching
Midwest Dilemma
Neva Dinova
Shiver Shiver
The Show is the Rainbow
Simon Joyner
Son Ambulance
Southpaw Bluegrass Band
Tilly and the Wall
The Whipkey Three

The Reader Next 20:
Adam Hawkins/It’s True
Baby Walrus
Box Elders
Capgun Coup
Little Brazil
Matt Cox
Noah’s Arc Was a Spaceship
Outlaw Con Bandana
Perry H. Matthews
Race For Titles
Son of 76 and the Watchmen
The Stay Awake
Talkin Mountain
Thunder Power

Like I said, it's pretty close to my list (here). Again, the list is created by all the music writers submitting a list of their Top 20 and next 15 to the editor of The Reader. She compiles them, and then we meet at a location and hash it out (This time the meeting place was Blue Line Coffee down at the Slowdown complex). The discussion was animated and fun. As I said the other day, The Reader changed the rules after we started, interpreting "the next 15" to mean local bands that are not in the top-20 that will have the biggest impact in 2009. They also expanded that list from 15 to 20. That being the case, if I expanded my list, I would add Perry H. Matthews, Ladyfinger, Dim Light, Bloodcow and Capgun Coup.

One of the most common criticisms of lists like these also overlaps to the whining heard about the Omaha Entertainment Awards (OEA's) nominees -- that Saddle Creek artists like The Faint and Bright Eyes (or this year, blank.wav artist The Faint and Merge artist Conor Oberst) shouldn't be considered in the discussion because "they have a national following" or "they already have enough publicity," etc. That's like saying that a band is "too good " or "too successful" to be considered for a Top 20 list or an OEA nomination. In other words, we should only be recognizing the mediocre acts -- not the ones that have gotten off their asses, taken risks, gone on the road and toured and are now reaping the benefits of their hard work. Hogwash. There are those who say Oberst shouldn't be considered because "he doesn't live here anymore." If that's so, than who was the guy I saw pushing a shopping cart down the produce aisle of the Peony Park Hy-Vee a couple months ago? Who owns that mansion in Fairacres next to the ARC studios? Yet another criticism is that "the list is the same every year." Obviously that's not true, though there are a number of artists who are on it every year because they produce significant work every year.

A better argument -- the one I use anyway -- is that there's no place for competition in art or literature. These kinds of things are generally divisive, and do more to split a community than build one. Unfortunately, lists and awards are the most convenient way to provide recognition to artists and musicians -- especially in these digital MySpace days when there are a million bands and no way to find the ones worth your time (especially with the current state of radio). That said, I'll be at the OEA showcase in Benson tomorrow night to check out some of the under-the-radar acts that have been nominated for this year's awards. More details about the showcase tomorrow.

Tonight there's another special event, this time on the campus of UNO. Michael Seman of Denton, Texas, indie band Shiny Around the Edges (I met him when they played at O'Leaver's way back in 2005) is in town tonight to present his thesis on the Slowdown project as part of a program titled UNO 100: Central to our city since 1908. Seman is a research associate at the Center for Economic Development and Research at University of North Texas and will be discussing the "present" portion of the program focused on Slowdown, while Dr. Harl Dalstrom will talk about "the past" -- the politics of the creation of UNO -- and Connie Spellman of Omaha By Design will talk about "the future" -- specifically the Midtown Crossing and Aksarben Village projects. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? The free lecture starts at 7 p.m. at Rm. 115/116 of the Durham Science Center on the UNO Campus.

Afterward, with your head all swollen from gaining so much knowledge, drive on down to Slowdown Jr. for Darker My Love, The Strange Boys and Eulogies. $8, 9 p.m.

--Got comments? Post 'em here.--

posted by Tim at 10:41 AM

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Posts Before February 2005