40 Best St. Louis Releases of 2011: Part Seven

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Part One: The Union Electric, Sweet Tooth, King Kong Magnetics, Warm Jets USA
Part Two: Glass Teeth, Ryan Spearman, the Breaks and Adult Fur
Part Three: Rum Drum Ramblers, Humanoids, Old Lights and Volcanoes
Part Four: Bo & the Locomotive, Rockwell Knuckles, Dubb Nubb and Palace
Part Five: Sleepy Kitty, Magic City, Nee
Part Six: Sine Nomine, Prairie Rehab, Jack Buck, Mikey Wehling

Blind Eyes | With A Bang

The Blind Eyes' With A Bang does not have to be as strong as it is. The band's sophomore album would be decent enough if Seth Porter were a less engaging vocalist with fewer grandiose Elvis Costello-ish leaps in his melodies, or if Kevin Schneider's bass lines merely parroted the guitar chords, or if drummer Matt Picker's dynamics were less driving. "Into The Breach" would still be an excellent rock song, even if Porter ended the chorus after repeating the title instead of sealing the deal singing "being fooled all the while!" with the exuberance of a second grader's solo at a school play. The band would be adequate if it chose to sound like The Strokes or Thin Lizzy or Ted Leo & The Pharmacists rather than cherry-picking from its influences to build a power pop Decepticon, or if it continued as a trio instead of adding Andy White on guitar to harden the rocking of its live shows. We might still be nerding out over the band at the end of the year if the group had made a good record. Luckily, The Blind Eyes made one that, months after digestion, is still damn near perfect.

Key Track: "The Nature Of The Beast"

Place You're Most Likely To Hear The Artist: In a perfect world, the opening credits of every coming-of-age PG-13 rated teen comedy ever made.


--Ryan Wasoba

A-Game | Hottest In Tha City 2

And there's that mesmerizing flow, smooth and confident, rolling over the beat with Southern twang and West Coast chill. That's the flow that gained a following when he opened for J. Cole in April. The flow that turned heads at S.L.U.M. Fest in June. The flow that made listeners start wondering whether this skinny kid with the prom-king charisma and grade-school grin could become a new face of St. Louis hip-hop.

A-Game has reached that stage of his career just before the tipping point. He released his first two mixtapes in the past twelve months, emerging as one of the most talented rappers in St. Louis. But he's still an unsigned unknown, who can barely afford a few hours of studio time.

But in those few hours... damn. He nails his verse in a couple of takes, exits the booth and listens to the finished product. As "Rookie of the Year" plays, he nods his head, bounces on his toes then pumps his fists. This is the lead track for the mixtape, and it's a splash of ice water to the ears -- three-plus minutes of syrupy winding flows that linger on some syllables and jump into double-time on others, weaving unpredictably among rhyme tempos, before climaxing with drum-roll-staccato speed. It's an impressive display of aural diversity.
--Albert Samaha
Feature: A-Game gets one step closer with his new mixtape


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