Best Country Band - 2004
It's important for the well-being of all fans of country music that we have a local group to root for, a group that sings about beer, train wrecks and the one or two other staples of good country living. In St. Louis, that band is Well Hungarians. They've got that thick-through-the-middle sound passed down from the Skynyrds and Allmans, but with two full-length albums under their collective belt, they now play their own hits far more often than those of their influences. Just as Nelly brought national attention to St. Louis hip-hop, Gretchen Wilson has turned the eyes of the Opry toward the Arch. The band has been featured on Country Music Television and stations across the South and Midwest have been playing its songs, making for more than a trailerful of Well Hungarians fans outside the Lawrence-Chicago-St. Louis triad. Their catchy hooks and popular live performances leave only one question: How long before Nashville comes calling? Best Punk Band Many literary classics begin in medias res: in the middle of the action. Y'know, like Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. It's fitting that In Medias Res begins its songs the eponymously appropriate way, moving immediately from silence to a deafening roar. In Medias Res is still a young band, having only released one independently distributed seven-inch, but the group's chaotic sound is wise beyond its years. Jagged, Fugazi-esque chord progressions ride over propulsive rhythm-section grooves that are danceable without descending into Red Hot Chili Pepper-y white-boy funk. Echoes of Drive Like Jehu and the Minutemen creep into the guitars and the vocals, but you don't get to be the best punk band in town just by having cool influences. This band plays with passion, harking back to a time when punk meant something -- to In Medias Res, they're still right in the middle of it.