Our yearly giant love letter to St. Louis -- the Best Of issue -- comes out tomorrow. We've encountered some confusion out there, so this seems like as good an opportunity as any to explain that this is different from our RFT Music Awards, which are ultimately determined by a public vote. With the Best Of St. Louis issue, we have our chance to tell you about our favorite bands, releases and shows of the last year. So look forward to that. Meanwhile, we thought we'd whet your whistle with a look back at the last few winners in the "Best Local Single" category.
2011: "All Noise" by Old Lights Old Lights, previously the emotionally damaged and musically enrapturing project of the mercurial David Beeman, emerged as a complete, stable band with this year's Like Strangers. Its six songs unfold like a Greek tragedy, and the EP reaches its dire peak on "All Noise." The song opens with an unstoppable grand-piano-and-guitar hook and builds through peeling harmony and a series of stark verses to a screaming freakout. The band released "All Noise" as a limited run CD single, and the B-side, "We Laid Down," is the first Old Lights song written and fronted by bassist and backup vocalist Kit Hamon. It's a pop gem that fits surprisingly well with the rest of the band's material, and it's the best proof of the newfound cohesion of Old Lights' spectacularly talented parts.
2010: "Government Name" by Rockwell Knuckles One way to hear the year's most outstanding local single is to purchase a copy of Everybody Wins and play it on random. The record, a compilation of singles from artists in the local hip-hop collective the Force, includes a slew of strong candidates for this honor. But when the booming string arrangement that kicks off "Government Name" almost blows out your speakers, the decision becomes a snap. The beat, produced by Trifeckta, is a radio-ready burner that bumps bass and has a breakneck tempo courtesy of a sputtering hi-hat. Rockwell tells the tale of an anonymous hookup, darkly rhyming "Ask me what I want/Young lady, I would love to freak you/Then feed you, drop you off/Tell you it was nice to meet you/Now fix your face." On the chorus, belting out the refrain "Spontaneous lover!" he sounds like Prince on a Viagra bender.
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