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Best New Band 

Grace Basement

Once upon a demo, Kevin Buckley planned to release his twangy power-pop solo recordings under the moniker the Harmony Band. But with the summer 2007 release of New Sense, the 27-year-old stepped out in town as Grace Basement — and in the process established himself as one of the most versatile performers in town. Like a less-rootsy Wilco, Fountains of Wayne sans shtick or a hi-fi Kinks, Sense is nostalgic but not trite, familiar without being derivative. Vibrant fiddle countermelodies dart through "Orphan Annie & the Dump Truck," organ simmers on the tear-jerking "Santa Fe" and the lush wistfulness of Crowded House echoes through "Caught." And did we mention that Buckley played every single well-orchestrated note — that's every instrument, folks — on Sense? Even more impressive, Buckley penned all of these songs in between playing traditional Irish music on the fiddle — his first specialty — at places such as McGurk's in Soulard. And heck, even those outside of the Lou are starting to notice Buckley's talent: He rated a mention in the liner notes of Challengers, the new album by Canadian power-pop collective the New Pornographers — because he recorded St. Louis harpist (and a member of Grace Basement's live incarnation) Eileen Gannon for the album. Now that's some powerful pop.

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