Longtime PHXmusic.com readers may remember the scandal surrounding the "Best Local Band" category in last year's Arizona Republic readers' choice poll.
First, the paper put together a terrible list (Asses of Evil?), then it allowed Isle of Essence to dominate the competition, so much so that the band declared themselves winners after amassing a seemingly insurmountable lead on the last day.
Isle of Essence did not win, though. Why? That's never come to light. Though the IOE guys were boisterous up until something went down with Republic editors, the band refused to talk to me about the situation after they were apparently disqualified. I tried really, really hard to get them to talk. I even dangled the prospect of a 1,200-word feature on the band, advancing a charity show they cared deeply about, and they passed. Does that mean they're definitely low-down, cheating dogs who did something awful? You be the judge.
This year's version of Arizona's Worst Imitation of The Phoenix New Times' Definitive Best Of Phoenix Issue (we're the original, we're the best, it's really no competition) promises a little less intrigue than last year. Still, there are a few interesting names on the list, including several bands you've definitely never heard of.
Andrew Jackson Jihad, Phoenix
Basics: Awesomely confrontational folk-punks. Last album, 2009's Can't Maintain, was truly masterful.
Predicted finish: Disqualified after some granny in Gilbert calls the ombudsman to complain about lyrics like, "We didn't come here to rock, we only came to disappoint you, 'cuz deep down in your cunt, that's exactly what you wanted us to do."
Authority Zero, Mesa
Basics: Well-established, workmanlike skate-punk band that made some waves with its debut record in 2002. The success of "Over Seasons" got the band an automatic bid in this category for at least the next 37 years.
Predicted finish: Middle of the pack.
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Chuck E. Baby & the All-Stars, Phoenix
Basics: This one I had to look up. Turns out Chuck E. is a an alum of the "Best Party Band for Corporate Events and Weddings Category." Their site's Press/News section features an article from our own Thomas Bond, which appears to be from his days as music editor at ye olde East Valley Tribune. That would make it at least five years old. Chances are some senior manager at the Rep saw Chuck E. at his niece's wedding and suggested the people in his department, not knowing how ridiculous this made the entire contest look to outsiders. "They're really, really good, wait 'til you hear that sax," he said. "Man, these guys are great, they remind me of the time I saw Zeppelin in '78!"
Predicted finish: Ugh. Anything above last is a slap in the face to Arizona music.
EastonAshe, Cave Creek
Basics: This is another one I had to look up. I can't prove this, but I strongly suspect these ultra-polished lite rockers (they seriously make Toad the Wet Sprocket look like Kill 'Em All era Metallica) double as a worship band at some non-dom church in their native Cave Creek. They asked their congregation to nominate them, and will ask them to keep voting.
Predicted finish: Hard to say... this is the sort of band very prone to ballot box stuffing in my experience.
Jeff Hunt Band, Mesa
Basics: Acoustic guitars played by guys in vests and ties... That pretty much sums 'er up. JHB seems to play primarily at non-music events like golf tournaments and culinary fests, so they've probably been working the crowds while playing local shopping centers.
Predicted finish: Near the top. They'll be pimping this at every show they play over the next month or two, and expect a lot of yuppies shopping at Desert Ridge Marketplace on May 28 to take their request to vote seriously.
Jimmy Eat World, Mesa
Basics: You know who Jimmy Eat World is and you know they got in because they're the only Arizona-based band most brain-dead Republic readers have heard of.
Predicted finish: The real question here is why Jimmy Eat World cares about this contest. They tweeted about it from their official account. "@jimmyeatworld to our fellow Phoenicians, cast your vote for your favorite local band: http://bit.ly/bvNqSH." They can't possibly care, right?
Basics: An underdog pick, but not a bad one. These gals/guy aren't awful. Dry River Yacht Club would have been the obvious pick for the "chick with a violin" niche -- Leaf has a grand total of 900 MySpace friends and only one upcoming show, a low-profile date at Cave Creek Coffee Co. So, yeah, they have no buzz whatsoever. Honestly, I say there's no way they made this list without a little help from an insider pushing them to do it.
Predicted finish: Hmmm. If people listen to them before voting, Leaf might at least make a few new fans out of this thing.
Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Tempe
Basics: What, Gin Blossoms didn't make this year's list?
Predicted finish: I'd like to think that if I were Roger Clyne, I would not give a shit about this contest. I would ignore a text about it from one of my bandmates and toss my line back out into the Cortez Sea. Of course if I were Roger Clyne, I'd be very gracious and kind, and thus likely to pretend to care enough to toss up a Twitter asking die-hard Peaceheads to vote. In which case I might well win. Hard to say.
The Joey Arroyo Band, Tempe
Basics: Our writers love these guys -- even Michael Lopez. They're hard workers, decent musicians, and ambitious as hell.
Predicted finish: Winner. They're at the right stage in their career to care about a bullshit contest like this, they don't suck, and they know how to network. Anything less than victory would be bitter disappointment.
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The Other 49, Phoenix
Basics: What should you know about The Other 49? The hilarious response they posted to Michael Lopez's You Asked For It review pretty much sums it up. With apologies to all the other bands on this list, who are getting a lot less space, we're gonna print their MySpace blog post in its entirety.
On March 05, 2010, the Phoenix New Times' Michael Lopez woke from his sleep in much the same way he always does. He prepared himself for the day that lie ahead, yet all the while unaware of the events to come; events that would forever shape his career as a critic, as a journalist, and as a human being. It was, on that day, that Michael Lopez had the honor of reviewing The Other 49's debut EP A Cold Open.
The review - to the untrained eye appearing to read as an unapologetic stab at the band's arrogant and over-the-top style of dated and monotonous indie prog rock - is in fact Michael heroically and journalistically jumping on the musical grenade that is A Cold Open. This album was not something that could be fully unleashed onto innocent and unsuspecting listeners and thus, must be cloaked in the shield of a mediocre B- review, only briefly allowing it's brilliance to shine through, heaving out shards of shrapnel to shred the faces of those unable to comprehend it...
Predicted finish: Near the top of the middle, but they'll take it super-personally. After all, if they thought a B- was "mediocre" coming from Lopez, they're sadly mistaken and not very well-read.
What Laura Says, Tempe
Basics: They play pans and pots and xylophones and shit, and they play a lot of them, gigging at a rate that'd have most Vegas lounge acts calling off sick. For Valley residents, it's impossible to have not seen them play somewhere, sometime (see: The B-E-S theory). That makes them a decent nomination.
Predicted finish: If all the bands they gig with relentlessly -- most of whom didn't make the cut -- join in to support them, WLS stands a chance.