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Best New Band 

Rats and People

When the Whole Sick Crew disintegrated last year soon after playing a set at the June RFT Music Showcase, the local scene lost one of its most original acts, a band tagged with (and often burdened by) a "pirate rock" label. Thankfully, one-half of the <\#213>Crew—drummer Robby Laptad, fiddler Beth Dill and vocalist/guitarist Brien Seyle—surfaced this year in the sextet Rats and People, a collective that's equally fond of innovation and unorthodox instrumentation. The demos posted on their MySpace page ( reveal a group enamored of the shambling indie-rock of the Decemberists/Belle & Sebastian/Neutral Milk Hotel persuasion. Xylophone and accordion tussle with a trumpet and Dill's violin for superiority, as vocalist Seyle expertly sings macabre lyrics about bygone eras. Rats and People's buzz-worthy gigs have already drawn nothing but raves; be sure to catch <\#213>em at one of their frequent Way Out Club shows.

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