Critic's Choice: Best Metal/Hard Rock, I End Result; Best Rap/Hip-Hop, Scarface

Best Cover Band
Toy Subs
Bands change, and this perpetual favorite is no exception. Never mind its popularity as a cover band; never mind this award. Lead singer Jamie Jahan Daruwala has unequivocally declared that the Toy Subs will, from now on, perform mostly their own songs.

But even with the release of their all-original Vim Fuego, the transition for the Subs will not be an easy one; fans are still going to expect to hear songs by Oasis, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, STP, Van Halen and even the Bangles. "We've played over 1,000 shows in the past five or six years as a cover band, and it's definitely helped give us a polish and get tight as a unit," Daruwala says. "But the bottom line is that when the majority of people go to clubs, they're seeing the band as an afterthought. They know they want to hear songs they like, but they're not really paying attention. Their main [concerns] are mostly drinking and getting laid."

Toy Subs first submerged in the Houston music waters in the late '80s, shortly after Daruwala met guitarist Alex Tittel. Though cover tunes was where the money and booking trail led them, the band members strove to put at least a little of their own spin on the music. "There's certain ringers you have to play, but we tried to avoid as many as we could and stuck with the stuff we really wanted to do," Daruwala says. The band also worked to "rock up" tired numbers like The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" and "Jet" from Wings. "There's a lot of great songs that a lot of bands don't do, because they're so focused on playing the same Top 40 songs," he continues. Though, of course, Toy Subs has performed its share of Chili Peppers, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick tunes over the years.

Daruwala's not ashamed of those covers; it's just that he wants to attempt something more. "It's a real band," he concludes. "And even bands like the Beatles and the Replacements did a lot of cover songs in concert." (Bob Ruggiero)

Critic's Choice: Allen Oldies Band

Best Funk/R&B
Destiny's Child
For a while, it looked touch-and-go for the nubile singing quartet known as Destiny's Child, but the former Star Search contestants came from behind to snag the Best Funk/R&B Award. (An ironic payback of sorts, since the song that has made them famous, "No, No, No," is all about getting perpetually teased by something you want.) But at the 11th hour, voters saw promise in the fresh, blemish-free faces of LeToya, Beyonce, LaTavia and Kelly.

And no wonder: After all, nearly every Top 40 station in North America played the hell out of "No, No, No." And their self-titled debut LP also offers a new single: "With Me (Part 1)."

Currently on tour with Boyz II Men, Next and Too Close, the girls couldn't be more on top of the world if James Cameron digitally put them there. Always humble ladies first and world-class divas second, Destiny's Child seeks only one destiny: to perform for audiences. As Beyonce told Houston Press earlier this year, "Even if there's one person in the audience, we will perform." Where's the Kleenex? (C.D.L.)

Critic's Choice: Destiny's Child

Best Jazz
Free Radicals
"We're probably more of a jazz band than anything else," admits bassist Shawn Durrani, "because of our ability to improvise." But, he adds, "I'm always worried that we'll come across as a fusion band." Certainly, the Radicals' potent and eclectic instrumental mix covers a heck of a lot of ground: funk, ska, R&B, acid jazz and post-rock. Improv and standard jazz provide the basis for their wilder flights of fancy.

For three years, drummer Nick Cooper was the group's only permanent fixture, but in July of last year, he found more permanent partners. Not that he's closed the doors to potential jam partners: The Radicals' debut CD, The Rising Tide Sinks All, spreads 55 musicians across 29 tracks, swinging and swaying across genres and continents. Looped funk collides with Texas jazz mainstays, ska rhythms, African singing, Indian musicians, blasts of saxophone, South African percussion, tablas and rapping. And somehow it works.

In its current incarnation (which includes saxophonists Marcos Melchor and Pete Sullivano, pianist Tsepo Rhodes, trumpet player John Durbin and new, one-name guitarists John and Stu), the band plays compositions that appear on Tide, but they don't try to replicate the record. Live, the group blasts a wall of sound bigger than most rock bands.

But the band members and their tunes have bigger aspirations and ambitions than that. The band is writing new material, with a mini-tour in the works for the end of the summer and plans for a new record. Durrani notes that on their next release, they will most likely distinguish between the performing troupe and guest musicians. Not, he admits, that the distinction will be obvious: "The funny thing is, a lot of the guest musicians on the record were in the band at one time." (D.S.)

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