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The past year has been a time of change on our music scene marked by too many endings and not enough beginnings. For every band that has taken a break or called it quits, there hasn't always been another waiting in the wings to fill the void.

The one constant, unfortunately, is the lack of support for original music by mainstream radio, with staffs quick to claim they've been playing the Goo Goo Dolls for years, yet disinterested in finding the next big band from the fantastic variety of music in town right now. (As a side note: It doesn't help when radio people and promoters say there aren't any good Buffalo bands when they don't check them out live.)

Thankfully, we can look forward to new music by a few of the top bands that have been in transition lately and are now refreshed and ready to go. Until then, we'll take a look back at 1999.

Top 5 releases:

"Sex, Bullets and Fire Engines" by Oui*73. Atmospheric pop music with attitude and vision by a band that deserves a larger audience.

"Pop and Circumstances" by Michael Oliver and Go, Dog. Go! Magical pop with outstanding lyrics that touch the listener.

"The Whole Scene Goin" by Girlpope. An ultra-mod collection that's fun, energetic and (best of all) unassuming.

"Sounds of the Elma Flatlands" by Ould Pound. An imaginative mix of medieval, metal and folk music pulled off with stellar musicianship.

"Armed and Hammered" by David Kane's Them Jazzbeards. A jazzy collection that's clever inside and out.

Band of the Year: Animal Planet. A performance at Woodstock and worldwide tours with the USO made 1999 a very big year for them.

Best New Bands: Pop-skasters Major Healy and modern rockers junKulture, two bands not afraid to take chances or work hard. Major Healy has already earned (the key word) slots on out-of-town bills with Smashmouth and the Goo Goo Dolls and junKulture has hit the road with Canadian rockers Widemouth Mason.

Single of the Year: Michael Oliver's "Anyone But You." A universal ballad with an uplifting pop flair that touches all the right emotions. This song has No. 1 single stamped all over it.

Golden Sabre (to the hardest working band): Jim Jowsey and SuperPimp who flyer, poster, call, mail, e-mail and do just about anything else in support of their music.

The (Lance) Diamond Award (Entertainers of the Year): Nikki Hicks (Animal Planet) and Jeff Jackson (Mudtown Rudy), two naturally gifted performers who command the stage and win over audiences.

Favorite Live Performance: Nikki Hicks of Animal Planet at Buffalo's Original Music Blast. It was pure showmanship when Nikki walked on stage hunched over with a walker, then tore off her bathrobe and ripped into a song, surprising even her band.

Best Live Song: Hands down, it's Oui*73's adrenaline rush, "Thirteen."

Get out of Town Award: One more chance to The Tails and Oui*73 and we'll add Humbucker (God's Children) to the list of bands wasting time in town.

Hurry up, We're Still Waiting: For the Dollywatchers' debut.

Best of Luck: To former members of Cabalyst, Psychotramps, Scattered Flurries, Schwannoma and Yellow No. 5. Also to The Brother Project and The Need, although we hope it's only a break.

Best Wishes: To musicians Eric Abretske, Joe Cross, Todd Harrington, David Hill, Mike Johnson, Matt Keighan, John Lundrigan, Poultry and Tim Wright on your new journeys.

A big welcome to: Bob Fera Band, The Common, Ethyl, Jarvis, junKulture, Major Healy, Stray Bullets, Veil.

Look out for: Seven Day Faith. The best music you haven't heard coming out of the area isn't Velour, but Seven Day Faith. This young Niagara County band has concentrated on songwriting for the past year and just released a demo CD with wonderful smile-inducing pop songs.

Unsung Hero: Jay Gerland, who selflessly donates hundreds of hours to make Western New York music a fantastic website ( and countless more to keep musicians (and media) on the cutting edge of technology with free advice. The site is a lifeline for the music community and fans with information, news, advice and, as to be expected, plenty of opinions on just about anything.

Local Hero: Govindan Kartha and New World Record for making a bold commitment to the community with a new Elmwood Avenue location at a time when cut-rate mega stores would seemingly prohibit this move.

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