All-Time Best Band: Bright Eyes All-Time Best Solo Artist: Elliott Smith Best New Band: Tilly and The Wall
Say what you will (and oh, you will say it) about Bright Eyes, but even if you find the outbreak of yowling boys with guitars and grand ambitions about as appealing as a brushfire, Conor Oberst remains a performer and writer of consistent passion, smarts, and charisma. That he performs better with others (and because 311 is atrocious) has earned him the win in our “band” category. (We’ll go outside now and clean your tomatoes off our windows.) | Elliott Smith might be more strongly identified with his long-time home of Portland, Oregon, but he’s actually Nebraskan. Big deal — it’s a testament to his talent that his music continues to eclipse the details of his tumultuous biography. | We must admit, the tap-dancer-as-drummer bit set our eyebrows to auto-arch. (Boston’s most popular band, Dresden Dolls, are mimes, for God’s sake!) But after seeing Tilly and The Wall live, we’ve succumbed to their otherworldly vaudevillian peacenik disco.