Charlie Brand works the self-deprecating-artist shtick better than any other musician we've met. Where most artists may brag about touring with marquee-level acts or getting their faces on TV, the soft-spoken guitarist/vocalist for indie quirk-poppers Miniature Tigers tends to shrug off their numerous successes. So we estimate that Brand's been shrugging a lot over the past 12 months, as he and bandmate Rick Schaier have been on a major roll since last fall. After having the infectiously catchy songs as "Cannibal Queen" and "Dino Damage" broadcast on taste-making SoCal college station KCRW, the Mini T's (who are signed to Sony-funded indie label Modern Art Records) performed to packed houses at October's CMJ Music Marathon in New York. Earlier this year, they were chosen by Ben Folds to accompany him on an East Coast tour, and they followed that up with an appearance at South by Southwest and by winning an online contest that got their videos played on MTVu. We're betting that if you're a frustrated musician in an unsigned Valley band, chances are you hate Brand even more than he detests himself.