Commercial Appeal: Finish Ticket. Both bands have experimental tendencies, but Finish Ticket have arrived at the perfect moment in history for a band of their ilk to shoot commercially upwards--they are experimental but accessible, and their songs are, at the root, deviations on an alternative pop format with considerable appeal in both indie and mainstream circles.
Cult Appeal: Handshake. Not to say Finish Ticket would be a flash in the pan, but Handshake are by far the more original group, putting a completely new spin on both art rock and folk/country rock. As they are much more likely to influence younger generations of groups, Handshake’s music will likely be more enduring.
Sex Appeal: Finish Ticket. Brendan Hoye’s voice simply burns with passion.
Critical Appeal: tie. Critics love rootsy indie bands like Handshake, but it’s hard to skip the lean hooks on Finish Ticket’s body of work.
Innovation: Handshake. I have never heard anything like Handshake. Finish Ticket present a new sound in a sense, but they owe a lot to bands like PDNF.
Soul: Finish Ticket. (See “Sex Appeal.”)
Wit: Handshake. Check out “Night of Electric Orchids.”
Musical Bravery: tie. Handshake aren’t trying to be a great pop band, and Finish Ticket aren’t trying to be rock n’ roll provocateurs.
Lyrics: tie. Finish Ticket’s lyrics are a fine example of observational semiprose lyricism, and they offered some great advice to mopey teens in “We’ll Be OK.” But Handshake have a witty way with lyrics, telling bizarre tales that are hopelessly random but do not seem forced.
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Conclusion: tie. Finish Ticket are a great experimental pop-rock band, and Handshake present a fascinating new progressive concept. While Finish Ticket will likely have more staying power in the charts and Handshake more in terms of influence, both are great bands, and their bodies of work are equally fascinating and speckled with great songs.