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Mp3 exclusives: Best Music Poll Top 10

Once a year we pause -- in mid-spring, so you don't get it twisted with Pazz and Jop or anything -- and take a look back at the last 12 months of music. Then we get all American Idol and let you vote about it. Thing is, the Phoenix's Best Music Poll ballots are designed to cut across literally dozens of factional Boston music tribes, so if you only read the Noise and drink at the Abbey, or if you only post on the Honeypump board and go to Great Scott, you likely look at the ballot and go, "Well, fuck, I've never even HEARD of half these bands!"

Ay, there's the rub: what do the other half sound like? Democracy, as the founding fathers taught us, works only if you have an informed electorate. In the past we've demanded a lot of you: that you instantly go out and familiarize yourself with all those bands you've never heard of. (Actually, we just figured you'd go ahead and vote for your friends' bands, which is what we usually do.) This year, however, the electorate will be informed. We decline to tell, and we opt to show. No more words: sounds! Many of this year's nominated bands also signed up for our Phoenix Band Guide, where they uploaded a bunch of full-length mp3s for you to listen to -- for free! What a concept! Someone should start a blog that does that!

1. The Sterns, "This Will Only Hurt for a Minute" (mp3). Boston breeds so many great power-pop bands that inevitably about 899,999 slip under our radar every year. These kids, however, did not. 

2. DJ-C "URADJC" (mp3). We were so psyched when we heard this tune -- an officialized Boston bounce remix of MIA's URAQT by Cambridge's own experimental party-music fiend DJ-C -- that we damn near peed ourselves. We've gotten lots of requests for it, and it's been included on a bunch of mixes linked from this URL, but this is the first time we've ever offered it for download on its own. Song of the year, you ask us.

3. Big Bear, "Track 03" (mp3). Yes, that's a girl singing. Yes, she's nominated for best female vocalist. You know anyone else who can do that? (Well, OK, sure, but do you know anyone else?) 

Big Bear tour dates:
04.19 @ Sparkle House in Philadelphia, PA
04.20 @ Cake Shop in New York, NY
04.21 @ Bennington College in Bennington, VT
04.22 @ Talking Head in Baltimore, MD

4. Darkbuster, "Shoulda Known Better" (mp3). It's possible there are a few people who read this blog who don't realize that anyone who spends a couple of years writing about music in Boston will develop a weakness for spirits, and the bands that sing about them. You also develop a soft spot for punk-rock losers who can carry a tune, which is why even those of us who know better still love Darkbuster. (See also: "Grandma Was a Nazi," which, they claim, is a true story.) 

5. Blanks., "Oh No!" (mp3). We've already pointed you towards Blanks.' "Pouncer," which has already rated a Compound 440r remix. The next person who says "They sound like Franz Ferdinand" is going to get punched in the face. 

6. Apollo Sunshine, "Phony Marony" (mp3). As much as we despise getting their constant emails, which have singlehandedly elevated ellipsis abuse to a national epidemic, Boston's psych-pop hippies have a choke-hold on the next-Flaming-Lips buzz. Please don't hold it against them. As this song proves, they're really just happy indie rocks kids who by some strange twist of fate have never taken a bad trip.

7. Converge, "Eagles Become Vultures" (mp3). This song is not hosted on our server with the rest of the songs. This song is kept in a sealed chamber made out of vanadium steel, buried in a concrete bunker, and kept cooled at -130 degrees celsius. This song is more dangerous than you or anyone who pretends to be your friend on the internet. 

8. UV Protection, "Chemicals" (mp3). There are some people who say you really have to see UV Pro to get the full effect. This is not false. But most of the time when people say that, they mean the record sucks. We will not front: it is fun as shit to see these girls dress up like Doctor Who aliens, rock the robot dance, and throw up a planetarium-grade light show, and if you haven't seen them you're stupid. But for real, there are breaks on these records. DJs need to play them. Oh, wait, right, they already do. 

9. Tempting Fate Revue, "That's Cool" (mp3). We wouldn't want to demean anyone by calling them, like, Boston's answer to Black Eyed Peas or anything, but when you want to thumbnail-sketch a large-ensemble pop-rap-group-with-brassy-female-singer who might actually end up on Radio Disney, what the hell else are you gonna call 'em? Let's put it this way: someone just called dibs on the opening slot for that 2008 No Doubt reunion. 

10. Ryan Lee Crosby, "Obey Me" (mp3). If you're a singer-songwriter with a fucked up backstory -- see here for the full cancer conspiracy -- you might, like Ryan, find your songs competing with your anecdotes for column inches. Here's hoping people actually listen to the record: kid's got pipes like Elliot Smith and some of the better tunes in town that don't belong to Stephen Brodsky.

You can vote for any and all of these bands -- and lots of national acts too -- in the 2006 Best Music Poll. Don't forget to write in Doomriders! Tickets to the Best Music Poll show go on sale this morning at 10 a.m.; the link is here.

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