7. Lola Buzzkill (29.5 points)
SOUNDS LIKE: The bands who played your friend's backyard ragers in college, only 10 times better—and much queerer.
NOTABLE VOTES: Previous Best New Band finalists Reva DeVito, Cat Hoch, and Allison Faris of Grandparents.
Lola Buzzkill is trying to practice—emphasis on "trying." The musicians are mostly still milling around their rehearsal space in Southeast Portland, drinking PBR and noodling on their instruments.
"I'm gonna go wrangle these motherfuckers," says frontwoman Justine Vee, snuffing a cigarette outside.
"Like a bunch of children," adds backup singer Lia Gist with a wry smile.
Even before playing a single note, Lola Buzzkill's members embody the stereotypes about cool bands and the cool people in them. They constantly take jabs at each other and are always pausing to drink or smoke. Though toned down from the full-blown theatrics of their live shows, they're all still dressed as one would expect of a flamboyant soul-funk ensemble—hypercolor jackets, shiny pants, lots of jewelry.
And when they do finally let loose and play, it's with absolute recklessness and joy, particularly where Vee is concerned. Her voice rips and snarls, extracting the life from each syllable like a boa constrictor.
Shockingly, this is her first band. Lola Buzzkill started out with Vee and her brother, Tyler Verigin, just messing around following the breakup of Verigin's psychedelic doo-wop band, Moon by You. "I was like, 'You can probably sing this way better than I could, so you'll sing the lead and I'll just back you up,'" Verigin says. "And it was fucking awesome."
These days, Vee has been writing more of the material while Verigin becomes busier with his other band, Reptaliens. She's already shaping Lola Buzzkill into a confident, distinctly queer femme presence, investing deeper meaning in the band's collection of fun, soulful songs celebrating love and sex.
"It's this great fucking privilege that I get to do this," Vee says. "There's nothing better than singing. There's nothing in the whole fucking world."
NEXT GIG: March 15 at the Liquor Store.