It’s been a long 2015. We are approaching seeing over 150 shows this year. We previewed SWSX, Canadian Music Week, Portland Pop Now, CMJ and many other festivals. This year we have many more categories than last year reflecting the amount of performances we saw.
– This 3 piece from Austin is led by Dani Neff. Hands down she is one of the best guitarists we’ve seen this year. Their latest album is Maximalist
. For info visit http://megafaunamusic.com
Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand
– We saw this band in July. They are a regular 4 piece with 2 drummers. They keep a strong beat. They describe themselves as many things but we see them as a roots rock band. Their album is Southwick Howls
. For info visit www.stormingthebeacheswithlogosinhand.com
This year we saw amazing jazz performances from Helen Sung, Melissa Aldana, Elaine Elias.
– This instrumental jazz trio took our breath away with a unique style that was both abstract and orderly. The trio is Myra Melford, Mark Dresser and Matt Wilson. Melford also released her latest album this year called Snowy Egret
. Trio M’s album is The Guest House
. For info visit www.mattwilsonjazz.com/music/trio-m
This was another busy category. We saw Kiesza go from a full dance routine to subtle keyboards after technical issues. We saw Betty Who do Madonna-eske dance moves. We saw Peaches pull out all the stops.
Christine and the Queens
– This French artist, Heloise Letissier, opened for Marina and the Diamonds. She is funny, clever and has star written all over her. She is heavily influenced by Michael Jackson & Beyonce. She hasmany works including a Self Titled album and an EP called Saint Claude
. For info visit www.christineandthequeens.com
Everything old is new again. This year saw new albums and tours by Metric, Veruca Salt, Leigh Nash, Jonatha Brooke, and Fiona Apple.
– She was the star of Throwing Muses and is now an accomplished writer & poet. She confesses to being damaged. We caught her live and saw her read passages from her books, poems and perform songs with a punk style rare in a solo act. Her latest book is Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chestnut
. For info visitwww.kristinhersh.com
Indie rock is a term I think is overused. To me indie means no label and the touring life. Others hear it as a low fi minimalist style of playing. All of the contenders could live in our playlist and never leave. Winter & Eskimeaux are the runners up.
Bad Bad Hats
– This 4 piece opened for The Mynabirds on tour. Led by Kerry Alexander they have a quickly addictive sound in their album Psychic Reader
. For info visitwww.badbadhats.com
EDM and Dance share many qualities including a strong continuous beat. EDM is less of band and more electronics. We saw many EDM acts this year including Purity Ring, AlanaGeorge, Force Publique, Grim & Darling. We also include Foxtrott in this category
– This Austrian band is made up of twins Giovanna & Mario. They first caught our attention with the video for “Friends.” In 2016 they release their album debut Plaat II
. For info visit www.facebook.com/mythmusic
Punk is always tough. It is the dirty stepchild of rock and rock. Quick, fast, often out of tune but filled with energy. Pop punk has made a resurgence with many bands having pop hooks laden in punk music. We’ve seen great punk with The Coathangers, LA Girls, and many others.
– This NJ band is Preetma Singh & Jared Micah. When we kept doing festival previews their name kept popping up. They are ferocious and fun. For info visit http://vomitface.com
Rock is another broad category. Rock can be a 4 piece like No Doubt or a 2 piece like the White Stripes. We saw a lot of rock this year and the standout shows included Ms Mr, Wolf Alice and The Kills.
– This is a 2 piece of sisters Rebecca & Megan Lovell. We saw them in March opening for and accompanying Elvis Costello. They are the mix of steel guitar and mandolin and are electric on stage. Their full length album is KIN
. For info visit www.larkinpoe.com
Best Foreign Artist
It used to be you would only see a foreign artist few and far between. Now they are common and include Hinds, Ballet School, Chvrches, Charlie XCX, Gian Carla-Terisa and many more.
– This Australian 4 piece wowed us early in the year. They are led by Nai Palm who has unique vocals. We describe HK as acid jazz. They describe themselves as future soul. No matter what you call it, it is the sound of the future. They released Choose Your Weapon
in 2015. For info visit http://hiatuskaiyote.com
Best Heavy Metal
Heavy Metal can be everything from the roar of aggression to the scream of defiance. This year we heard it from Muscle and Marrow, Royal Thunder, War on Women, Christian Mistress and Black Moth.
– This Canadian band is the epitome of metal. From the growling guttural songs to the headbanging melodies they have it all. Their latest album is Eye of Providence
. For info visit www.theagonistband.com
Pop music is the saccharine filled substitute for rock. It is more than addictive. It is a drug. This year we saw it with The Lower 48 and Chvrches.
was the heroin of music this year. Charli XCX’s album was more addictive than anything else this year. I’m sorry we had the cool aid on this one. It is both a major artist and major label. For info visit www.charlixcxmusic.com
Best Unexpected Surprise
This is a toss up. Seeing Fiona Apple with The Watkins Family Hour is a close second. This band of veteran musicians brings alive depression era music. Apple has a great niche in the 1910’s & 1920’s music. She seems happy there and hope an album of that material is her next project.
– This trio wowed us. They have a rock and low fi style that is both jazz and dream pop. Rosie Blair shows no weakness and delivers a show that is unforgettable. The album is The Dew Lasts an Hour
. For info visit www.balletschoolband.com
Best Local Music
I live in Colorado so I classify music as local, regional, national & international. It is impossible to not see local music. These are the openers for regional & national shows and headliners in local shows. They are the heart of the community and many are good friends. They include Katey Laurel, Edison, Megan Burtt, Lara Ruggles, The Velveteers, The Milk Blossoms and many more I can’t remember at this moment.
– It took three years for Burtt to release her sophomore album, The Bargain
. In that time we’ve seen Burtt grow majestically. As of this writing she is touring internationally. For info visit http://meganburtt.com
Best New Artist
Every single artist in this issue could qualify for this category. They are either entirely new to us or have new material this year that blew us away. They include every artist of the month and track we listened to.
– We were unable to see her full show but believe her to be magic. She is strong willed and we are confident that she is going to be heard nationwide. The album isWe.Animals
. For info visit www.lilarosemusic.com
Best Live Show
You know an amazing live show when you see it. It can elevate a band’s music in ways impossible to describe. We average about 150 live shows every year. This was a toss up. There was the amazing Vans Warperd Tour performance by Beautiful Bodies that literally had them climbing the rafters. It was very close.
– This NYC two piece are nuts. Alex Luciano has enough energy to power the nation and bounces all over the stage. Noah Bowman is on drums. They released a new 7” this year and were at CMJ. For info visit www.facebook.com/dietcigmusic
Artist of the Year
What makes an artist of the year? It is doing everything better than before. It is knowing the art of the business end of music. It is supporting other musicians while achieving your goals. It is songwriting that surpassed clichés. I do feel guilty awarding this to someone local but to me there is no other winner.
is a Colorado singer-songwriter This year she released Cynics and Saints
a sophomore album that took three years to create. It is the most honest album I’ve heard since James Taylor or Joan Baez. Every single song exposes and elevates her. For more info visit www.facebook.com/lararugglesmusic