Feb. 11 2009 12:00 AM

A survey of Lansing’s musical landscape

Vote the rock (or whatever youre into)

Attention all music fans, it’s time to let your voice be heard.

The City Pulse “Top of the Town Awards” are underway, so put down the PBR for a moment and vote. Let your local band or rapper know you appreciate them.

For those having a hard time thinking of someone to vote for, here’s a look at some acts who’ve had bigger years than most.

In the “Original band/group” category, I know of a few contenders that deserve at least a tip-of-the-hat. Alternative traditionalists The Cheap Girls have been on the road since releasing 2008’s CD/LP “Find Me a Drink Home.” The trio tours the United States non-stop and is headed to Europe this May.

Another heavyweight is Lansing’s apocalyptic metal masters Wastelander. After releasing a 7-inch record and the highly acclaimed 2008 CD “Wardrive,” Matt War and crew have quickly made a name for themselves nationally. Flatfoot, Red Teeth, Cavalcade, Satyrasis and The People’s Temple also kept busy throughout ‘08.

The “solo performer” category opens up a lot of opportunities for rappers to get noticed. Local emcee P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. is an electric performer who should get some consideration. Fellow area lyricist SINcere has become a fixture by hosting a popular showcase called “Mic Club” a Mac’s Bar. His hard work should be recognized as well as his ruthless street rhymes. On the rock side, one-man-band Lord Vapid drums with his feet while singing and playing guitar — enough said. Not to mention his ability to write clever songs that are punk, American roots music and old school rock‘n’roll combined.

An obvious front-runner in the "local venue" category is the gritty Mac’s Bar. Few venues host as many shows, but Oade’s Hidden Camel, Basement 414 and the newly re-opened Small Planet are also important stages for up-andcoming acts.

But these awards aren’t up to me. Vote for the best local music by Feb. 24 at www.lansingcitypulse.com. Let the city know who is important. Winners will be announced in the March 25 issue. Hopefully I will be able to congratulate some first-time winners in this column.

For those who need to do some research before casting their ballots, here’s a look at what’s going on this week.

The modern rock sounds of Alco take over the Small Planet on Thursday, Feb. 5. The band emits the radio friendly slickness of 30 Seconds to Mars with patches of drones and ambience. By the looks of the band’s MySpace page (stocked full of advertisements), it’s evident these Holt natives mean business. Opening the show is the Olivet trio Justin Hutchison Disruption. This funk-heavy local group with an obvious appreciation for Sublime and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will offer up a shot of summer in the dead of winter. 16800 Chandler Road, East Lansing, 9 p.m., 21 , $5/$8.

Ever wish you could simultaneously watch a kick-ass rock show, drink alcohol and donate to a good cause? If so, stop by Oade’s Hidden Camel on Friday, Feb. 6. Five local bands will take the stage to raise money for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Lansing’s most detached band, Hordes, will no doubt play an unnerving set of experimental, bleak sounds. Aside from unconventional music, the band also recently opted out of a CD release in favor of a limited homemade cassette. Narc Out the Reds supply power-pop comparable to Detroits The Von Bondies. Adding some fun to the night is Year 200X, a metal band that only plays Nintendo theme songs. If you prefer Mega Man over Method Man, stop by and watch these gamers thrash in the tune of Zelda. Headlining the night is MK Ultra Culkin. Yes, the band’s name is a reference to the child star, but the music is far from a joke. Word is MK recorded an album last May, perhaps it will surface soon. 1210 S Washington Ave, Lansing, 9 p.m. $5, 21

If you’re not feeling the local noise this week, stop by Mac’s Bar on Sunday, Feb. 8 for the out-of-town pop sounds of The Lives of Famous Men (Anchorage, Alaska). These guys have that “Vh1: You Oughta Know” sound. Its pea-coat and scarf-rock that could please fans of Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5. Go Crash Audio (Omaha, Neb.) and Anarbor (Phoenix Arizona) round out this radio friendly tour. 2700 E. Michigan Avenue 5:30 p.m. $6/$8, all ages

-Rich Tupica