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CITY: North Dakota


All-Time Best Band: The Pink Slips
All-Time Best Solo Artist: Peggy Lee
Best New Band: Vaz

“Bismarck is a dead town,” once said the Pink Slips’ Kelly in an interview. “You either drink, smoke, screw, die, eat, have a craft show, or have a band.” In this case, the Pink Slips opted for the last one: a teen-girl pop-punk band with more attitude and ideas (such as “ND Surf,” a B-52s-ish paean to wave-running in their landlocked home state) than talent. But they make for a fascinating look at what DIY rockers can do when geographically and culturally challenged. | Sultry Peggy Lee put the boom-boom in pop music 50 years before Miami bass was shaking the palms on Ocean Drive. Best known for “Fever,” the naughty Lee navigated many genres, from jazz to rock. She also is the only artist on our list to earn a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, for 1955’s Pete Kelly’s Blues. | Brooklyn may be home to Vaz now, but the band emerged from the desiccated husk of Fargo trio Hammerhead, which made thunderous post-punk prog rock as inspired by Travis Bickle. Vaz (which started as a duo — Hammerhead minus guitarist Paul Sanders) cover similar terrain, only adding more Clockwork Orange avant-chaos (especially in the drumming of Jeff Mooridian) to the mix.

Video: Peggy Lee

Download: Pink Slips, "Westcott" (mp3)

Listen: Peggy Lee, "Fever"

Listen: Vaz, "Blood Oranges"


North Dakota