All-Time Best Band: Violent Femmes All-Time Best Solo Artist: Brother Ali Best New Band: Bon Iver
Being talented, being influential, being prolific — they all go a long way toward securing yourself a spot on a somewhat arbitrary “best” list. But what about being lovable? Unless a pair of pugs teamed up with a pair of tiny white kittens to form a band, you’d scarcely be able to find a more lovable act than VIOLENT FEMMES. They may be sick of each other and we may be sick of them (and Wendy’s, who oddly decided that “Blister in the Sun” was a good branding tool for a grilled burger), but there’s still love there. | Since Rites of Passage (his first cassette release in 2000) right up to the fiery The Undisputed Truth, Wisconsin-born BROTHER ALI has proven himself one of the most ferocious, dedicated MCs in the country. There, we’ve proven ourselves able to make it through a mention of him without noting that he’s albino and Musl— whoops! | Taking their name from the not-quite-French translation of “good winter,” BON IVER capture the stark, frail beauty of the cold season in the Wisconsin woods, where their debut sampling was recorded — featuring little more than Justin Vernon’s stunning guitar. Bring on flu season!