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Bryan McGuire (the ACBs)
Favorite show: "Dirty Projectors at the Granada in July. They had the sound dialed in, and the crowd was hanging on every note. It doesn't hurt that their new album is really good. I remember [frontman] David Longstreth being pretty funny, too. Runner-up: the Nerves, the Plimsouls and the Beat at RecordBar in March. Outstanding songs played loud and loose."
Favorite song: "Haim, 'Forever.' They played after us at this tiny bar at South by Southwest, but I missed it because I volunteered to get the van so we could load out. But everyone who saw them was blown away. There were days over the summer where I couldn't stop listening to this song. Runner-up: Ross Brown, 'Small Victories.' A song that's entirely familiar and yet unfamiliar the first time you hear it. I love it."
Phil Diamond (Scammers)
"Umberto doing Dire Straits' 'Walk of Life' repeatedly for 47 minutes at FOKL was pretty crazy."
Steve Tulipana, owner, RecordBar
Highlights: "Successfully promoting the Swans and Xiu Xiu show at Beaumont Club on September 19. Kansas City proved to me that they have great taste and open minds and ears by attending one of the heaviest, loudest and most intense shows I've ever seen.
"The turnout for Shearwater at RecordBar on February 6 was incredibly disappointing, but the performance they gave to the nonexistent crowd was transcendent, so much so that I bought every one of their LPs on vinyl that night. Their latest album, Animal Joy, is on my top-10 list for 2012. Brilliant and impassioned.
"One of my favorite moments in local music was attending the Making Movies CD-listening party for their new album, A La Deriva, one of the best local albums put out this year. The band performed a few of the songs off the new album, stripped-down and acoustic. It was a treat listening to Enrique Chi tell the stories behind not just the recording of the album but the songs themselves. A very memorable and intimate performance at Czar."
Mat Shoare (the Empty Spaces)
Best shows: "The MidCoast Takeover showcase at South by Southwest. The Caves' Duplexiaville album release. And Radiohead at the Sprint Center in March."
Terry Taylor (Hammerlord)
Best album: "Troglodyte, Don't Go in the Woods. On their second album, Trog proves once again that Kansas City metal is alive and well. Everything from the songwriting to the production is grade-A, top-notch. They prove that even sasquatches from the Midwest can churn out an incredibly technical powerhouse of a record. Fans of metal should pick this up today."
Best show: "Pizza Party Massacre and Expo '70 at the Riot Room, November 17. I don't get out as much as I should, so I miss a lot of good local bands and shows. I am glad I was out this night. I had never seen Expo '70, and they really blew me away. Instrumental, heavy riffage, groove-rock that comes at you like a freight train. The guitar hooks really stick with you, and the drums and bass hold it together through each song. I was really impressed. I would like to see them do some kind of a concept record. I think they could tell a groovy sonic story through their music. It was a diverse bill that night. Pizza Party Massacre was up next. I am an old-school punk rocker, so I was really excited to see them play. They got up there and blew through 30 minutes of catchy punk. I think a lot of people in the audience that had never seen them were really impressed."