By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Also deserving of mention: some of the best gig posters in the business. Seriously, go to www.pitchforkcountry.com and give them a look. We'll wait.
Best Rock Chuck BerryForty-nine years ago, Chuck Berry recorded "Maybelline," and the rest is history. Without this record and the string of masterpieces which followed it -- "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," etc., etc. -- rock & roll would have followed an entirely different developmental path. Berry crafted exquisitely evocative and insightful descriptions out of the everyday speech of ordinary Americans. He created many of the basic riffs that would be used as starting points by most every rocker who picked up a guitar in his wake, from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols and beyond. He was a no-brainer first-ballot choice for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And he still plays once a month, like clockwork, at the Duck Room.
DozemarypoolIt's not like the members of Dozemarypool never come up with new material. But it does seem as though they like to tinker with the old songs every few months. Over the last couple of years, Dozemarypool has recorded several demo CDs, and songs have stretched and become more mysterious every time. The imaginations of guitarist Ryan Stoutenborough; his brother, drummer Andy Stoutenborough; and bassist Keith Mangles never run dry. Start with hypnotic washes of guitar over a pummeling drumbeat and a furiously steady bass line, and see how many different ideas can be generated. For those curious about the name, by the way, Dozemary Pool is the legendary last resting place of King Arthur's sword, Excalibur. 11 p.m., Duck Room
Julia SetsIf it's true that God loves a working man, then the Lord must have a soft spot for the folks in the Julia Sets. Over the past few years, James Weber and Co. have tirelessly and cheerfully released album after album to some positive local acclaim, but they have yet to catch many ears outside of St. Louis. The stakes are high for the June release of Yes-Wave, the most coherent and cleanest Julia Sets record to date. The new album is more hook-heavy, while leaving room for Weber's meandering guitar, and the band has achieved the perfect mix of sonic invention and solid songcraft. 12 a.m., Delmar Lounge
The Love ExpertsThere there now, music fan, stay calm and note, if you have yet to, that the Love Experts, also known as the Bee's Knees to more St. Louis rock critics than not, have recorded a new album. I'll wait until you've stopped cheering to continue.... Yes, that's right, the second coming of the Rolling Stones is back in rare form: playing gigs, promoting a record, satisfying the salivating masses and leaving rooms charged with an electricity that is anything other than static, conveying the kind of relative dynamism so uncommon in a city that sports as many average bands as potholes. Yet from the pool of mediocre cess otherwise known as rock & roll, the Love Experts rise again -- rejuvenated, perfected, ready. You may resume cheering. 5:30 p.m., Market in the Loop Outdoor Stage
Riddle of SteelIf there's any question in your mind about the future of rock & roll, pick up a copy of Riddle of Steel's latest offering, Python. Pop it into a stereo with a subwoofer and play it at full volume. If your soul isn't immediately shaken from your body, you'll hear why the critics are using terms like visceral, refined, multifaceted and involved to describe the band. ROS exemplifies all the power, majesty and pure emotional resonance that hard rock was designed to convey, surprising and schooling you at every inventive turn of melody. Exciting, refreshing and intelligent, Riddle of Steel could possibly be the best hard-rock band on the planet. 8 p.m., Hi-Pointe
Best Pop The BaysayboosThe past year has brought a few changes to local rock orchestra the Baysayboos, both in the band's lineup and general ethos. The band has moved away from some of the more obtuse avant-gardisms of its infancy toward more straightforward, buoyant pop numbers. The inclusion of violin, trombone and saxophone has always made the 'boos stand out, and this seven-piece is able to juggle myriad sounds and textures without losing focus too often. Mixing music theory and inherent melodic sensibilities, the band has found a place of their own among St. Louis' punk, rock and jazz acts. 9 p.m., Halo Bar
BunnygruntIn the 1990s, Bunnygrunt carved an international niche for itself as St. Louis' best-known indie-pop emissary. After a few years in hibernation, the band has returned in a big way. Within the past six months alone, Bunnygrunt has had a song placed in the film Bad Santa, released a twenty-song collection of rare and unreleased material called In the Valley of Lonesome Phil, recruited new bassist Lauren Trull, and recorded three new songs with Mario Viele of Roadhouse Tunes. As is evident from the comeback shows the band's played so far, Bunnygrunt has lost none of the lovable, tuneful and slightly shambolic approach that made it semi-famous. It won't be long before the world rediscovers Bunnygrunt; catch the band locally while you can. 10 p.m., Halo Bar