Best Band - Kaleido
A lot of female-driven pop-rock acts are hollow exteriors that producers put together after months of beta-testing and focus groups. This is not the case for Kaleido. The five-piece crew got together after a smash-and-grab show in Los Angeles. The relatively young (but still knowledgeable) band has an aggressive pop-rock sound and lead singer Christina Chriss is a star in the making. Chriss, along with bandmates Joey Fava, Cody Morales, Ronnie Rosolino and Jamie Allen Burnham, have come up with a sound that will remind listeners of a younger No Doubt with an edge that Stefani and Co. could never muster up. We saw this coming as our November cover proves, and are happy to give Kaleido this honor based on their quick transition from friends writing songs together to waking you up on Fox 2's morning news. So, if they continue on this upward trajectory, Kaleido should be makin' kids go crazy all across the U.S. by this time next year. Good luck lady and gents!
Best Rock Band - Wilson
Rock City has no better ambassador than the guys in Wilson. They are legit through and through. Their live shows have enough fuckery to last a normal man's lifespan. So awesome are they, in fact, that an invitation to open for GWAR on a national tour has been accepted and will begin in April. A debut full-length will see light this year and their EP is a hard one to get ahold of. Trust us, we've tried. The five-piece group is a must-see for anyone looking to get their face melted. Albums and YouTube will never do these rockers justice.
Best Band You Haven't Heard - Flashclash
If you haven't heard FlashClash, don't worry, it's not your fault. You see, they are from the future. The duo were transported back to us by harnessing the power of anachronistic synth vibes. Yorg Kerasiotis and Bryce Carroll-Coe are the earthly names given to the duo behind this otherworldly band. Together they create a blend of sound that would work in the '80s just as well as it does today. With Peter Gabriel-like vocals that catch the ear as much as the vast "psycholetric" soundscape emanating from their keyboard, FlashClash should be heard by you before the choose to a haunt another era.
Best Blues Artist/Group - Eliza Neals
It's said that everybody has had the blues, but we'd like to add not everybody can sing about 'em. Fortunately for Detroiters, Eliza Neals can sing. And she can sing well. The Detroit Music Award-winner has a range that we don't see a lot of around these parts. Not your grandpappy's blues, Neals puts a modern spin on a form that birthed what we listen to today. She expertly draws from inspirations that include the legendary Barrett Strong (writer of songs like "War" and "Heard it Through the Grapevine.") This year will be big for the sultry "Detroit Diva."
Best Club DJ - Captn20
Stop us if you've heard this before: Nick Haddad is the man. Living a life that could've steered him down some dangerous roads, Haddad smartly took up DJ'ing and dropped street racing. His styles could make crowds thump from Ibiza to Las Vegas. Captn20 would make fans of Tiësto's house giddy with glee. He regularly drops beats in V Nightclub, so when you want to taste the bass, you know who to see. He's won this award four times already, so it's safe to say he's earned the spot as resident DJ in your hearts.
Best Cover Band - Mega 80S
Known from the U.P. to G.R. to the D, Mega 80s is the cover band that we will tell our grandchildren about. (Do you think Mega 80s will turn into Mega 20s and then our grandchildren will tell their own?) The guys are well-traveled and have a work ethic that would make Mötley Crüe happy. Most cover bands overstep the line that separates kitschy from tacky, but Mega 80s have mastered an art that requires the mastering of all kinds of arts. With weekly shows around the metro area, Frankie says relax and go see the Mega 80s.
Best Dressed Band/Artist - Ben Sharkey
Word of advice, fellas: take your lovely significant others to see Detroit's own crooner, Ben Sharkey. His soulful take on jazz standards are guaranteed to impress whomever you bring. Second word of advice, fellas: blindfold said significant other while at Sharkey's show. Dude straight kills any onlooker with his debonair Cary Grant-ness. Even if blindfolded, your lover still might leave. Sharkey's kind of singing is rare, but cherished in today's world. Drawing comparisons to some classic names like Connick Jr. and Torme, Sharkey is a sight and sound to behold.
Best DJ - Godfather
DJ Godfather picked the right stage name. The scratchmaster has been elevated to the status of DJ laureate on Detroit's hailed electronic music scene. Borrowing from a multitude of inspirations, Godfather has remained at the forefront with his nasty turntable skills. Listeners will go from head bopping to booty dropping in about four seconds. His accolades include a very noteworthy spot on DJ Times's Best DJ list and more than a few mentions in our very own Best Of lists. Next time you want to lose yourself in some ghettotech, find a night hosted by Godfather and then go to twerk.
Best Techno Label - Bang Tech 12
If we had a nickel for every time we wanted to start a successful music collective with the sole purpose of spreading good stuff, we would have a few dollars. Bang Tech 12, on the other hand, did precisely that. The label just celebrated their Sweet 16 with a sick party at Bookies last year. With a roster that spans the globe, Bang Tech 12 has a great mix of DJs like the Detroit Techno Militia, Zix, DJ Seoul and T. Linder. And if you are looking for some DJed dopeness to play as you're driving home from work, be sure to check out their Drivetime podcast.
Best Electronic Artist - Ataxia
The future of electronic music in the place where so much of it has taken shape is alive and well. Mixing house and techno into a chill set that soothes and soars at all the right spots is why Ataxia at the forefront of what's to come. Ted Krisko and Eric Hanna can regularly be seen in spots like the TV Lounge and Old Miami. They've also been involved with the biggest music festivals around: Movement, Electric Forest and the Winter Music Conference. The duo just signed with new representation that ensures a crazy busy 2013, so see these guys before they explode.
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist/Group - Invincible
The people are hungry for hip-hop with some substance. We are inundated with weak flows and garbage words that do nothing but hold us back. Enter Invincible, the Israel-born, worldwide-bred female emcee that fills her songs with strength. Whether it's the state of her adopted city of Detroit, or problems she sees in today's hyper-political landscape, Invincible knows how to tackle a charged subject and bring it to a place where all listeners can understand it. Her flow is pretty wicked and topical rapping can be tiresome, but her intelligence will win every time.
Best Folk Artist/Group - Ragbirds
Musicians are people, too. And like people, they hate being labeled. Unfortunately, in order to properly compare similar sounds or other artists, music writers force bands into genres that make zero sense. Well, A2-based Ragbirds flies in the face of music journalists everywhere and refuses to be tied down. Frontwoman Erin Zinder, along with the rest of her bandmates, can play several different instruments. What the listeners end up hearing is a concoction that would make Paul Simon and Bela Fleck smile. Their new album just dropped this month, so if you want to smile too, we suggest picking it up.
Best Hard Rock Band - Critical Bill
If you think rap rock is a dying art, then you clearly haven't listened to Critical Bill. Sick tracks like "Suicide" and "Beam Me Up" show the band's appeal isn't to be trifled with. Power chords and near-blast beats are the tools of the trade for the veteran band. Frontman Powerdise has a strong and vibrant presence that lends itself well to the hard rock the rest of the band produces. Critical Bill will force you to move, whether you listen to them in your room or see them live.
Best Indie Band - Jamacian Queens
Buzz! It's this thing that gets batted around in the biz. It is often hype on caffeine pills. It's when there is so much anticipation for a song or album or beat or subtweet that blog boners are inevitable. Well, the biggest inspiration behind said boners lately has been Jamaican Queens. The trap pop pioneers are releasing their debut album Wormfood this winter and will undoubtedly make their way across these great states. Be sure to catch these boys before they blow, because it's gonna be a hot mess. To get your own buzz boner, check out "Kids Get Away" on the YouTube nearest you.
Best Jazz Band - Will Sessions
Calling Will Sessions the Best Jazz Band is a disservice to their extreme and varied talent. See them live and you'll know exactly what we mean. A strong crew (around eight of them) and a stronger work ethic (forged in the heart of a good music city) have made Will Sessions the go-to band when it comes to funkifying any night in the D. Standing in as studio band-extraordinaire or house band at our beloved Funk Night, Will Sessions has proved that they're more than "just" a jazz band.
Best Live Performance - Stepdad
Some of the best music lately has been created by college guys who mess around with some sounds, their friends love it, and then they somehow create an entire stage show that puts the pros to shame. Stepdad, based in Grand Rapids, are the latest group to follow such a format. Their brand of pop will transport listeners back to the NES glory days on one song, and the next will take you on a star quest floating through space. (It's ok, we don't know what that means either, just go see Stepdad live and you'll get it.)
Best Local Band Name - Flint Eastwood
Sometimes a band comes along and you have that internal debate, "Where are these cats from?" One listen to the coolly-named Flint Eastwood and you'll ask yourself that question. England? Brooklyn? The future? No. No. Maybe. Jax and Seth Anderson are sister-brother duo from Detroit that just want you to dance or whatever. Their distinct form of indie dance pop hasn't been picked up yet by a label, but that will surely change soon. One thing that won't change: how awesome their band name is. Let's just hope they beat the similarly-named southern rapper to the top.
Best Local Music Video Producer Jason Schultz
One of the coolest things about having a thriving music scene is that it spawns other creative jobs to support it. We need girls that can dance and people to film this dancing while drowning a band in said girls. Jason Schultz is the man with the plan. With a singular style that permeates much of his work, Schultz has a vision that can normally only be found on one of the coasts. His sweeping arrangement of skills make him your Best Producer in town.
Best Local Record Label - Psychopathic Records
This is a hard fought contest, but the ninjas over at Psycopathic Records have won again. The label, located in Farmington Hills, was created by the Insane Clown Posse after the group had some problems with major labels trying to force their hand. With artists like ICP, Blaze and the newly acquired (yet familiar face) Legz Diamond, Psychopathic has been at the forefront of the underground hardcore rap game for years. Even though they lost one of their biggest acts ever in Twiztid, Psycopathic has the experience to stay on top.
Best Local Songwriter Greater Alexander
Michigan has a ridiculously strong group of folk artists right now, from Best Of winners Ragbirds to the ahead-of-the-curve Frontier Ruckus. Well, add Greater Alexander to the list. His combination of positivity and introspection give listeners a comfortable, casual experience that makes them feel connected. After launching a successful Kickstarter, Greater Alexander is weeks away from a full-fledged release. When you plug into his work, make sure you are clear-headed to ensure the deepest soul penetration. But if all you're looking for is catchy guitar licks, he can supply that too.
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist/Group - Slum Village
Detroit's hip-hop game lost some steam for a while when the only product comin' out of the Motor City was an angry lady who realized it gets really cold here. Fortunately, the legendary Slum Village is back with some attitude. Their latest record features some of the best up-and-coming talent Detroit's seen in a decade. Slum Village has had some of the dopest names in the game attached to it (see: J Dilla and Elzhi), but T3 and Young RJ are re-re-reestablishing Slum Village as one of the rightful godfathers in Detroit music.
Best Place To Record Your First Album - Groovebox Studios
Groovebox Studios is a microcosm of all the success stories that are flooding the region. Spawning from a desire to do good, Groovebox Studios was created by a pair of musicians who saw a need and filled it. Jeff Wenzel and Shawn Neal use their space in the Russell Industrial Complex to feature some of the best independent acts that Michigan has to offer. The professional skill and equipment they offer lift all of the musicians on their impressive résumé.
Best Solo Artist - Big Sean
We all know that guy on Facebook who's "in the recording studio til the break of dawn." Then he tries sending his demo to labels, radio stations and the like just to get a little feedback. Well, that's how Big Sean made it. 'Cept he took his game straight to kingmaker Kanye. Now his low-key flow is being featured on tracks around the nation and Finally Famous was a smashing success. This year will see his next full-length release and undoubtedly more success. For now, we will be keeping his Detroit EP on repeat.
Best World Music Group - Luis Resto
Luis Resto is one of the best musicians in Michigan and he has the accolades to prove it. Resto brought home an Oscar and a Grammy for co-writing the massive hit "Lose Yourself" with Eminem. His résumé eclipses some of Detroit's venerable history. But his true skill and passion are most evident on his solo release Combo de Momento. He has developed his sound over decades of lending it to others. What comes from Resto now is a soul-infused sound with elements of funk made all the better by the intelligence to incorporate a litany of instruments.