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Best Drummer 

Shawn O'Connor

"Best" is a relative term, especially when relating to a dense trade like percussion, and one's measure of skill often lies with straight speed or power. Not that Shawn O'Connor (a.k.a. the Defenestrator) of Yowie is lacking in either. He isn't — but his band requires much more mind over matter. His attention to texture puts him one notch above most throne jockeys. O'Connor manages a choreographed dance of jazz and rock through percussive voice. Each pitter-patter of his snare invokes a cracked-out marching line, and his subtle use of double-bass pedal eschews any notion of metal. Each drum rings loud, specially tuned to resonate through, and careful separation gives attention where it's due. His approach spares the listener the tedium of the drum solo — O'Connor shows all of his cards in every beat and would rather confuse than impress. And we're all the better for it.

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