2008 Music Awards Nominees: Best Local Release (self-released)

(Thanks to bands for permission to post MP3s!)

Jon Hardy & the Public, Working in Love Fans of the Basement Tapes-esque Americana of Jon Hardy’s early work were right to be surprised and stunned by Working In Love. The record isn’t the work of a Midwestern alt-country band; it’s the sound of blue-eyed soul in love with pop music, from the resonant chime of guitars, to the unflagging rhythm section to the horn section that blares hook after undeniable hook. It’s a break-up album, for sure, but it’s never mopey or self-indulgent. Hardy keeps the lyrics simple and straight from the heart, letting the pure pop-craft of his melodies and arrangements tell the story. -- Roy Kasten Main Stage, 2 p.m.

MP3: Jon Hardy & the Public, "Trouble"

The Hibernauts, Periodic Fable www.myspace.com/thehibernauts It’s always great to see a band realize its potential and find its identity through the process of making a record. That’s just what the Hibernauts seemed to accomplish with last year’s tightly wound EP Periodic Fable. The seven songs on Fable pack a punch, their jangly guitars and perfectly textured vocal harmony arrangements setting the disc apart from average indie-pop fair. “Into the Storm/Out to the Sea” is an epic tune that dances along on a perpetual hi-hat bounce, thick harmonies and vintage synthesizer accents -- before a sweetly romantic breakdown section that conjures Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips sets up a driving, hopeful ending. -- Shae Moseley Cicero's, 10 p.m.

MP3: The Hibernauts, “Into the Storm/Out to the Sea”

Rats & People, The City of Passersby www.myspace.com/ratsandpeople The City of Passersby’s stories unfold song by song. Each track functions as its own unique chapter, meaning that the album’s tales are told from different points of view through the eyes of individual narrators. And like pieces of a puzzle, they all fit together to form some kind of bigger picture. Using a combination of old instruments and a new folk-punk presentation, the talented members of Rats & People express the converging feelings in the album, with loss, confusion and hope taking center stage. -- Jaime Lees

MP3: Rats and People, "The Crooked Way"

(Rats & People, by Mike Dressler)

The Bureau, We Make Plans in Secret www.myspace.com/thebureau Dark-wave synths and post-punk guitars meet, shake hands and slow-dance to Bauhaus records on the Bureau’s first full-length record. Bassist and singer Mike Cracchiolo writes tight, kinetic songs that suit his rich tenor voice, and We Make Plans in Secret captures the mix of punk and electronic rock & roll. The band’s love of 80’s pop bubbles up from time to time, from Human League-esque synth chords of “White Girls” to the syncopated guitar strokes on “Cabin Pressure.” Where a lesser band would labor under endless doom and gloom, the Bureau operates off of a still-beating heart, however black it may be. -- Christian Schaeffer Cicero’s, 9 p.m.

MP3: The Bureau, "Stalingrad"

Rockwell Knuckles, Northside Phenomenon www.myspace.com/rockwellknuckles When was the last time you listened to an album (let alone a hip-hop one) and didn’t skip a single track? If you downloaded a copy of Northside Phenomenon (it wasn’t released in stores), that was probably it. Knuckles establishes a blistering pace on the album’s title track opener and never looks back. His imposing baritone voice, flawless flow and thought-provoking lyrics, combined with the guitar-heavy production of local legend Kenautis Smith, make for the rare album where you can simply press play and walk away. -- Keegan Hamilton Elvis Room, 8 p.m.

MP3: Rockwell Knuckles, "Hello Morning (ft. Phillippe and Seymour Liberty)"

(courtesy of Nick Acquisto)

Various Artists, The Space Parlour: Live in St. Louis Series 2007 www.myspace.com/thespaceparlour Nick Acquisto hosts “The Space Parlour” on KDHX (88.1 FM), a program that specializes in slightly off-center rock & roll from at home and abroad. Last year Acquisto asked some of his favorite St. Louis bands to drop in and record live, in-studio sessions, and the best tracks came to be collected on the first Live in St. Louis disc. By compiling songs from artists specializing in folk (Casey Reid), punk (Ded Bugs), and rock (That’s My Daughter), Acquisto’s comp serves as a document of St. Louis talent -- as well as a tip sheet for many of this city’s best bands. -- Christian Schaeffer

MP3: Casey Reid, "Underbelly Limbo"

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