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The Valentines
Best New Act

There are two stories about how the Valentines were founded. One, singer-guitarist Joey McClellan shares while dining at Chili's: "We just started this up," he says, shyly. "We've always been doing this."

That version has an incredible lack of rock to it, especially considering the Valetines' unabashed '60s garage sound. A better story is the flaming pie-esque fable they tell on their MySpace page, involving four little boys in 1959 and a strange man in black with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. The kids, hopped up on the Jack, find "shovels made of magic" with which the quartet begins to "dig for sound" in a church playground. Unearthed are a bass for Aaron McClellan, guitars for his brother Joey and Chris Holston and a drum kit for Austen Hooks. Behold: the Valentines.

Magically fast-forward to 2006. The boys have a knack for producing raw, hard-rocking, foot-stomping songs without falling into the Strokes/Hives retro-rock trap. It's no shock that they say their main influences are the Beatles and the Stones, but unlike the bajillions of other bands with the same claim, the Valentines pay as much attention to vocal harmonies as they do their guitar lines. But if chuggy guitar rock with droning harmonies and unfiltered drums isn't your thing, the Valentines say they have lots more going for the fact that drummer Austen looks like Chuck Norris and bassist Aaron has a third nipple. (Really, it's directly below his right one.) God bless a Dallas band that doesn't take itself too seriously. "There's no pretentiousness in our band," says Joey. "We're just writing songs that we like, and we're getting to share it." --Andrea Grimes

Pops Carter
Best Blues

Denton is the perfect place for a modern Delta bluesman to cultivate his legend. Born to Shreveport cotton farmers, young Tom Carter began singing with 13-piece bands when he was 13 years old. By then he'd relocated to Houston and was living with his aunt and uncle, goofing off in school but doing so well performing on street corners that club owners became envious of the crowds Carter would draw. He started touring the country shortly after the Depression, playing dives, dance halls and a prison or two. He shared stages with B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and just about everyone in between, developing a bluesy croon that is one part gravel and one part gravy. Carter eventually ended up in Little D by way of a construction job and, he says, single-handedly brought the blues to Denton in 1969. Dentonites acknowledged this contribution, giving Tom Carter the nickname "Pops." He began cherry-picking bandmates from UNT's ever-replenishing well of music students, eventually settling down with guitarist Christopher Tracey and forming The Funkmonsters in 1990. With all these experiences and achievements under his fashionable Delta blues belt, the question begs to be answered: Is the almost 90-year-old Pops ready for retirement? Not according to his MySpace profile. --Geoff Johnston

Boys Named Sue
Best Country/Roots

Name a quality beer joint in this town the Boys Named Sue haven't played and I'll give you $5. Since their humble beginnings as a side project for Ward Richmond and John Pedigo of Slick 57, a band the Sues have now outlasted, the rowdy Dallas quartet has soaked nearly every stage in Dallas in some sort of alcoholic substance, be it Lone Star, Tuaca or the Bird.

"Our rule is to never take ourselves too seriously," Richmond says. "John and I took it so seriously and so personally when people didn't like [Slick 57]. Then with the Sues, all we did was say, 'Man, who's not gonna like this shit?!'" And he's right--it's just plain hard to not like the Sues. After all, it's not every country band that can look itself in the eye unashamed after performing a live mash-up of Eminem and Merle Haggard. Sure, they're goofy as hell sometimes, but that's the point--"We're all about wanting other people to have a good time with us," Richmond says. And to those who just can't believe we would give the award for best country band to a group known largely for covers (for the second year in a row, no less), I direct you to the Sues' upcoming album of originals, The Hits, Volume One--which is sure to set the EDT (East Dallas, Texas) on fire if it sports half as many "dandies" as Richmond says it does. --Noah W. Bailey

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Noah W. Bailey
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Andrea Grimes
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Jesse Hughey
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Geoff Johnston
Sam Mackovech
Merritt Martin
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Darryl Smyers
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Robert Wilonsky
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Sander Wolf