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John Szuch

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This staunchly independent dude started his indie-punk label Deep Elm Records in New Yawk with 7 inches from bands like Nada Surf and Jimmy Eat World. But he soon moved operations south to get away from the noise and gunk -- or somesing. You could call Deep Elm Charlotte's own little Dischord. (For indie illiterates, that's the pioneering hardcore-punk label that gave the world Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, Nation of Ulysses, Fugazi, etc.) Or maybe not. At any rate, Mr. Szuch seems to love his punk-rock life here in the CLT. (See No. 5, yonder.) Deep Elm may be the CLT's best-kept secret. The label's been written (or talked) about all over the place -- Alternative Press, Spin, Rolling Stone, MTV as well as all the usual fanzine suspects -- and its bands have been heard on TV shows ranging from MTV's Real World to CBS's CSI. So who the hell are those bands? How much time you got? Names you might know are Five Eight and Walt Mink, but there's a shitload more punk, pop and punkpop bands screaming outta Deep Elm. Szuch has taken a shine to Latterman. (See No. 4, yonder.) Hell, just see the whole damn Top 5 and go Internet shopping, will ya?

1. The Internet. "Today alone, I bid on one of those frogs that fell from the sky in Magnolia, bought a replacement knob for my stove, learned how to properly air my grievances during Festivus and finally got off that damn Scientology mailing list. I'm told you can even see pictures of naked people on the web. . . but where?"

2. Iron Chef. "The Japanese version is the best show on television. Does the Chairman borrow those costumes from Michael Jackson or what? Half the stuff I would never eat, but the translation is priceless. . . they even overdub coughing."

3. Wandâfuru Raifu. "The English-subtitled version of this film is called After Life and it's a masterpiece of fantasy meets documentary. After you die, you get one week to select a single memory from your life to relive over and over again. . . forever. What is the one memory you would take with you?"

4. Latterman. "These pop-punkers from Long Island made me believe in music again. Their new album No Matter Where We Go..! is not only catchy as hell but also reminds us about the importance of friendship, positivity and community and denounces patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia and racism. Latterman may not save the world or even rock & roll, but, fuckin'-A, they saved me."

5. Charlotte. "I've traveled all over the world and I gotta say this city has it all. Sushi at Nikko, drinks at the Knothole, clothes at Black Sheep, bands at the Milestone, racing at Lowes, Charlotte Checkers hockey, living at Lake Wylie. . . I'm here to stay. Charlotte rocks."

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