Twelve Local Artists Not to Overlook in 2011

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A lot of local artists cross A to Z's way. Some send us albums; others Tweet at us. Still others drop us email. (Hint: We love email. Especially if it's telling us about who you are and what you're up to. Even if we don't respond, we read everything.) But despite the constant hum of information and music, some local acts slip through the cracks -- not because of malice, but due to time constraints or our heavy workload. And so that's why we're presenting this list of twelve artists not to overlook in 2011. Some of these acts are new; some have been around for a while. Some of these acts we've written about; others we haven't. But all deserve more attention in 2011 -- both from us and you. Consider it a companion piece, a sequel to this week's Eleven Bands to Know in 2011 list.

Art Majors, "Constant Animals"

Art Majors While some bands are happy to just bathe in the glow of local notoriety, Art Majors hasn't become complacent. If anything, it's just the opposite. The band's frequently picked to open for big name acts -- Holy Fuck and Frog Eyes come to mind - which is a testament to its versatility as a band and its all-around appeal. Frontman Mike Roche's lyrics and delivery are as earnest as his band is consistently on-point. -- Diana Benanti Website

The Blind Nils The Blind Nils is a collaboration between local folk musicians Cassie Morgan, Jerry Baugher and Adam Hajari. Each member brings years of solo experience and talent, which shows in the lyrical depth and complexity of its songwriting. The trio's been performing together as the Blind Nils since 2009, and plans to release a debut EP in 2011. -- Chrissy Wilmes

The Breaks, "On Our Own" (Bobby Brown cover, from Ghostbusters II)

The Breaks The Breaks are far from the first band to specialize in high-energy power-pop, but it distinguishes itself with smart, dynamic songwriting and charismatic stage presence. Between bassist Karl Stefanski's leaping and guitarist Sean Gartner's ferocious finger-tapping, the quartet puts on a riveting show that bodes well for its upcoming EP, Odd Man Out, which is out January 11, 2011. -- Bob McMahon Website Egg Chef, "Cloudman"

Egg Chef Underground darlings Egg Chef are practically mandatory on any experimental bill in St. Louis. The Bellevillians defy genre classification, and it's impossible not to enjoy its high-octane performances and post-whatever sound. While maybe not for the average indie-rock fan on first listen, Egg Chef's brand of 400-BPM shit-kicking DIY makes sense live: When you see them in Hazmat suits, it's likely you'll start sweating just watching the band perform with its inimitable gusto. Egg Chef's upcoming seven0inch, "Opinions Are MEANINGLESS in The Void," is due out soon on Apop Records. -- Diana Benanti Website

Eyeye Formerly known as Oceania, Eyeye sounds like no other current band in town. If anything, the trio sounds interplanetary: Chilly synthesizers, androgynous vocals and minimal icicle beats dominate. The layered, processed vocals and stacks of gothic keyboards on "Storm" resemble Imogen Heap, while the band's new single, "ProcrastiNation," is a cold-wave version of Silversun Pickups. Facebook page The stunning video for "ProcrastiNation":

優柔不断 Procrasti Nation - Eyeye from EYEYE on Vimeo.

The Good Pyramid This year the Good Pyramid released its debut EP, Pre-Triassic, which functioned as an introduction to its heavily jazz-influenced instrumental rock. The quartet is just getting started, has been picking up momentum in recent months: It will be playing with Young Prisms at the Firebird on January 28 and is also planning a CD release show at the same venue next March. -- Chrissy Wilmes Website The Gorge The Gorge is a metalcore quintet whose Botch-esque atonal attacks have landed it opening gigs for Earth Crisis and Fear Factory, and spots at more than one Pointfest. Consider the Gorge's curious show history a reflection of its explorative composition exploits, however; its members have done time in math-prog outfit Groupthink, ironic instru-metal act Thor Axe and funk machines Natural Selection. The Gorge's music is focused, sincere and oh-so-very heavy; it takes cues from the likes of Meshuggah, John Coltrane and St. Louis icons Dazzling Killmen. -- Ryan Wasoba Website

I Am a Nation This trio has only played a few gigs in St. Louis, but its studio recordings are fully realized. Vocalist Chris Plank has the post-punk lounge-lizard croon down -- think the Chameleons' Mark Burgess and the Church's Steve Kilbey -- while co-vocalist Rachel Stewart adds bittersweet melancholy on her occasional lead-vocal turns. (Think a cross between PJ Harvey and the Sundays' Harriet Wheeler.) Plank's bandmates back him up with appropriately moody riffs, rhythms and echo; in fact, new songs the band sent to me have the driving heart lacking in recent work by Interpol. RIYL early Simple Minds, music for rainy days, the Church. Facebook page

Magic City Magic City is a perfected cocktail of twang, rock, decades of experience and guttural, Nick Cave-esque vocals. The quintet has been performing all around St. Louis since last January and is now preparing for a very busy 2011: It will be embarking on a tour of the South come late January, and a new album is scheduled for release on vinyl next spring. -- Chrissy Wilmes Website Theresa Payne, "Go!"

Theresa Payne As part of the Force collective, Theresa Payne's soulful vocals have found their way onto tracks with local veterans such as Rockwell Knuckles, Tef Poe and Indiana Rome. Her own single, "Glad I Found You," has been featured on Hot 104.1's STL Home Jamz, as well as at the weekly Monday night event "Headquarters" at the Gramophone. Be on the lookout for more live appearances and a debut EP in 2011. -- Calvin Cox Website

Shaved Women Taking its name from the classic Crass song, this four-piece has quickly become a staple in the punk community by embodying a D.I.Y. aesthetic and wielding a domineering death rattle unlike any local band around. These harbingers of chaos range stylistically from self-destructive hardcore to grinding walls of feedback. Shedding any sense of pretense, the boys of SW maintain a sharp focus on brainwave annihilation and the process of weeding out. Fans of Pissed Jeans, Sex Vid and Total Abuse will not be disappointed. -- Josh Levi

Bryant Stewart, "When It Rains" (from the Perfect Change mixtape)

Bryant Stewart Since Bryant Stewart released his A Perfect Change mixtape around this time last year, his buzz has grown exponentially. He's proved to be just as comfortable singing into a mic as he is rapping -- whether he's trading verses with Indiana Rome on "Living the Life," providing the hook on Nato Caliph's "Her" or holding it down solo on his current single, "We On," Stewart's talent speaks for itself. His newest project, Not Quite There, will be available next year. -- Calvin Cox Website

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