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Best of Atlanta 2017 After Dark

Dark Critics Material SectionMain




After Dark

To truly understand a society, one needs look no further than what’s happening in pop culture. In Atlanta, wokeness, for lack of a better term, is the underlying theme driving anything and everything that has to do with the city’s nightlife and musical communities. But the political agendas, the sense of strife, righteousness, resistance, and the passionate debate that’s clogging up social media channels and organizing in the form of protest marches would be for not if it weren’t for the quality, strength and diversity that’s brewing in the music scene.

Evolution and revolution are constantly at work in the city that’s still too busy to hate. Nowhere is that more clearly on display than with the new crop of young, progressive and mobilized artists who have carved out their own pieces of real estate within Atlanta’s creative communities, and started building upon the city’s already deep legacy of hip-hop, punk rock, roots music and dance floor odysseys. ATLiens, it seems, are at their best when they’re under duress. The gentrifying face of the city, coupled with the tumultuous tone of American politics, came home to roost in 2017. The natives are restless, and they’ve responded with fortitude, channeling the fear, elation, anxiety and joy into a music and nightlife scene that’s as hard as the world we live in. Amen to that.

— Chad Radford, CL Music Editor


Featured


Best patron for the arts

Kebbi Williams
KEBBI WILLIAMS has spent a lifetime immersed in music. Spending decades traversing the late-night music scene, and landing a gig playing sax for the Grammy-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band seems more than worthy of earning a lifetime achievement award. And sure, when he rolls up to Kevin Scott's Tuesdaymore...
KEBBI WILLIAMS has spent a lifetime immersed in music. Spending decades traversing the late-night music scene, and landing a gig playing sax for the Grammy-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band seems more than worthy of earning a lifetime achievement award. And sure, when he rolls up to Kevin Scott's Tuesday night jam sessions at Elliott Street Deli & Pub, the city's finest players turn their heads in awe. But Williams' work on the ground level truly makes a difference. As one of the proprietors of Gallery 992, he's created an outpost for the arts, music, yoga and education in the West End. His annual Music in the Park blowouts in Howell Park place young students and professional musicians on a level playing field, and engage them all with music. After watching music education programs being stripped from public schools throughout the city, Williams has worked with more than 5,100 students and more than 300 professional musicians to crowds of more than 15,000 people. Now seven years deep, and still free for all to attend, Williams has done more than his share of heavy lifting for the arts; changing hearts and minds every step of the way. www.musicintheparkatl.org/gallery-992. less...

Best sound guy

Andrew Wiggins
Since taking over Johnny Rhum's role as production manager at the Earl in August 2016, guitarist and noise specialist ANDREW WIGGINS (Caesium Mine, ex-HAWKS) has brought his high level of expertise and professionalism to sound quality and production show after show. A tech at Acorn Amplifiers by day,more...
Since taking over Johnny Rhum's role as production manager at the Earl in August 2016, guitarist and noise specialist ANDREW WIGGINS (Caesium Mine, ex-HAWKS) has brought his high level of expertise and professionalism to sound quality and production show after show. A tech at Acorn Amplifiers by day, Wiggins' sound production stands out due to his personal touches to the Earl's sound setup, such as his mid-1970s Echoplex EP-3 he sometimes chooses to run through vocals. Having learned under Rhum and Curt Wells in his earlier days as sound guy around town, Wiggins maintains the reputation the two established at the Earl, continuously braving the impairments of tinnitus and bringing his insight and meticulousness of sound to bands' performances. His expertise and service of producing consistently impeccable-sounding shows with the attention and care he takes to make artists sound their best make him a standout favorite among Best local and touring bands and an asset in the Atlanta music scene. less...

Best act to kick footwork into the future

Charolastra
In February, when Peter Roglin released CHAROLASTRA's debut cassette, God Help Us, the project appeared to be a one-man operation: Roglin kept on track by producers Anthony Nolan and Tito Mazzetta. Throughout God Help Us, songs such as "Top of the World," "Microdream" and "Is Everything as It Seems"more...
In February, when Peter Roglin released CHAROLASTRA's debut cassette, God Help Us, the project appeared to be a one-man operation: Roglin kept on track by producers Anthony Nolan and Tito Mazzetta. Throughout God Help Us, songs such as "Top of the World," "Microdream" and "Is Everything as It Seems" make fine intros to Roglin's early obsessions with hip-hop, drum and bass, Chicago footwork and spacey ambient production. But when performing live on stage, Charolastra opens up dramatically. These days Roglin hesitates to even talk about the project without diverting attention to the band he has assembled, featuring guitarist Speros Kokenes, bass player Alex Pound, saxophone player Marquinn Mason and drummer Dylan Banks. On stage, the group takes a headlong dive into cosmic jazz excursions, bookended by Mason's towering presence walking the frontline of long, sustained moments of improv and beat-driven structures. Roglin lays low in the background, twisting knobs and watching over his devices with stoic presence, as the group digs into rhythms grooves and textures that transcend the instincts and temperament of modern musical trends. This is music that forges its own adventurous path from the group's collective conscious into the colorful outer regions of modern Atlanta music. www.charolastra.bandcamp.com. less...

Best dark horse in the running

J.I.D
Following the critical success of this year's The Never Story, J.I.D is firmly planted in hip-hop's conscious. The Spillage Village MC is the latest spitter to align himself with J. Cole's Dreamville imprint and may be the first out of the broadening collective to make a true move toward the mass appreciationmore...
Following the critical success of this year's The Never Story, J.I.D is firmly planted in hip-hop's conscious. The Spillage Village MC is the latest spitter to align himself with J. Cole's Dreamville imprint and may be the first out of the broadening collective to make a true move toward the mass appreciation of their label head. Hailing from East Atlanta, J.I.D, born Destin Route, describes his music as a true-to-life depiction of his early experiences in dealing with and overcoming the struggles of growing up amid drugs, violence and gang life. He matches this realism in subject matter with a knack for rhyme that places him at the top of the heap of the city's most respected and most talented lyricists. Pair that with an innate ear for melody, and it's looking like J.I.D might just be next to blow up. www.dreamville.com/artist/j-i-d. less...

Best overall music act

6lack
6LACK, the artist born Ricardo Valdez Valentine, took the city by storm in 2017. The sounds of his thick-as-molasses debut album, Free 6lack (Love Renaissance/Interscope), are more R&B than hip-hop, but when Valdez raps, his lyrics and delivery are on point in songs such as "Rules," "PRBLMS" andmore...
6LACK, the artist born Ricardo Valdez Valentine, took the city by storm in 2017. The sounds of his thick-as-molasses debut album, Free 6lack (Love Renaissance/Interscope), are more R&B than hip-hop, but when Valdez raps, his lyrics and delivery are on point in songs such as "Rules," "PRBLMS" and "Alone / EA6." 6lack's slow lyrical glide through dense, atmospheric production courtesy of Singawd, FWDSLXSH and Nova paint a chilly, nocturnal landscape that crept up on the city and the rest of the country, earning platinum sales for "PRBLMS." To celebrate his victory Valdez chopped off his dreads, which sent the public into a bit of a tizzy. It wasn't enough to hinder his phoenix-like ascent, though. 6lack's allure, presence and gravitas transcend simple vanity. Free 6lack is the spearhead of an artistic renaissance for Atlanta in the post-trap era, leading a return to mellow melodies and unconditionally excellence in the name of Southern aesthetics. www.free6lack.com. less...

Best live band

Material Girls
This year, Atlanta boasts a surplus of new and genuinely groundbreaking artists, as the city's DIY aesthetics evolve to reflect the political catastrophe that's unfolding across the country. When it comes to live shows, MATERIAL GIRLS stand head and shoulders above the rest, captivating crowds with snarlingmore...

This year, Atlanta boasts a surplus of new and genuinely groundbreaking artists, as the city's DIY aesthetics evolve to reflect the political catastrophe that's unfolding across the country. When it comes to live shows, MATERIAL GIRLS stand head and shoulders above the rest, captivating crowds with snarling cabaret/punk theatrics, dressed in drag. Tyler Jundt and David Iduate lead the charge blaring through trumpet and saxophone, while John Restivo Jr. pounds away on bongos and drums. The group's latest addition, Meghan Dowlen, struts on bass, while Robbie Rapp sears on guitar, and Ben Presley growls his sultry vocals. The group cuts through the subservience of boring, old street wear, as their stage presence and instrumentation rise above the trappings of just another Best local rock band. Since breaking the group's minimal online presence with the arrival of its debut album, MS VS IQ (released July 2016 via Irrelevant Records), Material Girls emulsify on stage with elements of glam and grit, hunky brass and dildos, wigs and pacifiers, and an attitude so natural the group doesn't give a shit if you buy it or not. www.soundcloud.com/materialgirlsusa

photo by: Rick Campbell

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Best way to get down and do good

La Choloteca
You can almost hear the screams of delight emanating from Atlanta's Latinx community and beyond anytime LA CHOLOTECA announces another new party. Creating safe(r) spaces for the late-night dance crowd, La Choloteca's organizers and party revelers abide by rules such as no groping, no hate and no bodymore...
You can almost hear the screams of delight emanating from Atlanta's Latinx community and beyond anytime LA CHOLOTECA announces another new party. Creating safe(r) spaces for the late-night dance crowd, La Choloteca's organizers and party revelers abide by rules such as no groping, no hate and no body shaming. Along the way, they wrangle a formidable lineup of DJs boasting Best local talents such as Esme, Florista, Santiago Paramo and more on the turntables, blasting the soundtrack to the party's unspoken rule: "Dance hard, all night." The party's tagline is "La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx" „ Atlanta's Latinx community and their rights to party „ but all are welcome, and the word is out. The last year witnessed exponential growth for La Choloteca. After settling into its new home at MJQ, hosting events such as the YA QUE?! cross-country tour of radical resistance, and hosting parties in New York City, La Choloteca raised the bar high for active activism and filling up a room with more beautiful people, inside and out, than anywhere else in the city. www.facebook.com/Choloteca. less...

Best place to take a selfie

The Pink Trap House
All right, that title's a little misleading, but who would have thought that a marketing idea for the latest 2 Chainz album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, would have created such a buzz around a craftsman home in Berkeley Park? 2 Chainz, born Tauheed Epps, and his team rented a home and blasted it inmore...

All right, that title's a little misleading, but who would have thought that a marketing idea for the latest 2 Chainz album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, would have created such a buzz around a craftsman home in Berkeley Park? 2 Chainz, born Tauheed Epps, and his team rented a home and blasted it in hot pink paint, creating a hot spot for like-hunting social media savants, and serving as much more than a selfie backdrop that drew people from across the country. THE PINK TRAP HOUSE, as it came to be known, at different points during its brief lifetime, acted as a nail salon, art gallery, church and even a Best locale to utilize the Fulton County Health Department's mobile HIV testing truck. All in all, this served as great promo for one of 2 Chainz's best albums. Turns out, the guy can make a hit. www.2chainz.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best hip-hop incubator

Controllerise
The cutting edge of underground hip-hop shines every Thursday night when the CONTROLLERISE vibe session takes over Slice Pizza. Weekly regulars such as LeemLizzy, Funk.Shu, Triiip the Hippy, house DJ Empress Rah and more may not be household names yet, but each one is a staple of the thriving beat showcasemore...

The cutting edge of underground hip-hop shines every Thursday night when the CONTROLLERISE vibe session takes over Slice Pizza. Weekly regulars such as LeemLizzy, Funk.Shu, Triiip the Hippy, house DJ Empress Rah and more may not be household names yet, but each one is a staple of the thriving beat showcase where young DJs, producers and intrepid MCs roll out their latest concoctions for a gathering of peers and like-minded Best locals. Controllerise was conceived by Chris Wilkes, aka STLNDRMS, and Mike Harr as a grass-roots effort to facilitate the overwhelming amount of raw talent they saw brewing around them. Over the last year, attendance has grown, while a revolving cast of beatmakers sharpen their skills with quick excursions to the outer limits. The communal vibe of the weekly party functions as an incubator for ideas where hip-hop heads bounce ideas off of each other, give feedback and provide a critical support system where everyone grows mutually. A fresh batch of instrumental music is always on blast, but an appreciation for all things anime binds the room together. Cartoons such as Ghost in the Shell play out in the periphery, and attendees register to win anything from action figures to T-shirts and other manga-related gear. Giveaways aside, this is ground zero for Atlanta's most creative young minds in hip-hop. Slice Pizza, 75 Piedmont Ave. S.E.
www.controllerise.com

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best band keeping old-school punk ethics alive

Antagonizers ATL
In times of overt bigotry and social unrest, ANTAGONIZERS ATL's songs offer uncompromising messages of unity and positivity. This street punk credo echoes as loud in these contentious times as jokey provocation or political sloganeering. Such anthems as "Hold Your Ground" and "Dead to Us" extol the valuesmore...

In times of overt bigotry and social unrest, ANTAGONIZERS ATL's songs offer uncompromising messages of unity and positivity. This street punk credo echoes as loud in these contentious times as jokey provocation or political sloganeering. Such anthems as "Hold Your Ground" and "Dead to Us" extol the values of self-respect and not taking shit off known enemies and false friends. The band's positive message resounds with listeners for two reasons. First, singer Bohdan Zacharyj, guitarist Richard Henderson, bassist Billy Fields and drummer Eric Antell perform loud and fast rock 'n' roll with roots that dig deep into U.S. and U.K. punk history. Second, and more importantly, all four members come across as genuinely well-intentioned old-school punks, sharing the music that changed their lives every time they take the stage. www.antagonizersatl.bandcamp.com

photo by: Shooting The Shot Photography

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Best modern classical composer

Chris Childs
Former Hello Ocho pianist/percussionist and Faun and a Pan Flute marimba player CHRIS CHILDS didn't take much time off over the last year. In June, Childs released a 30-minute composition, titled "If I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl." He composed the music amid a tight schedule bookended by touringmore...
Former Hello Ocho pianist/percussionist and Faun and a Pan Flute marimba player CHRIS CHILDS didn't take much time off over the last year. In June, Childs released a 30-minute composition, titled "If I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl." He composed the music amid a tight schedule bookended by touring with Hello Ocho, while also staying on the road with and releasing Faun's second album, 2014-2016. When not working on his own material, Childs wrote pieces for Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Somewhere in there he found time team up with cellist Ben Shirley and English horn player Carolyn Johnston as the Chris Childs Trio. The outfit was assembled to perform "If I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl," placing Childs' modern classical work on stages everywhere from dive bars to DIY venues along the East Coast. The music embraces the freeness of a small ensemble, while facing the musical challenges inherent in boiling the music down to just three instruments. But the ability to adapt is Childs' strong suit, as he shuns the notions of academic stagnation by allowing the piece to continue growing with each performance, no matter what obstacles life stacks in front of it. www.chrischildsmusic.com. less...

Best debut record

Pallas
PALLAS has garnered an impressive amount of national press on the heels of releasing the group's debut seven-song 12-inch via Drop Medium Recordings. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fi art-punk aesthetic. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fimore...
PALLAS has garnered an impressive amount of national press on the heels of releasing the group's debut seven-song 12-inch via Drop Medium Recordings. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fi art-punk aesthetic. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fi art-punk aesthetic. From the opening bass rumble of and high-speed rhythms of "Render (Location 13)" to vocalist Danielle Brutto's consistently unintelligible, but undeniably catchy shouts, the group's sound occupies a musical terrain that falls between post-punk and no-wave „ reminiscent of Sonic Youth, Palm or closer-to-home acts such as Warehouse, Red Sea and Hellier Ulysses. Bass player Valentina Tapia leads the charge here; her performance is especially impressive throughout "Cast a Lion, Cured a Crow." Guitarist Zane Durfee and drummer Decker d'Alesio are also at the top of their game in songs such as "Itchy Feet (Location 12)" and "Lavender Lout." It's a joyous experience to witness how experimental and fluid these seven songs are, while remaining grounded to melodies that are far beyond the group's years. www.facebook.com/pallasatl. less...

Best punk enabler

Josh Feigert
JOSH FEIGERT wears many hats: State Laughter label owner, guitarist for GG King, Uniform, and at least one or two new groups that may or may not get off the ground. He's also Atlanta's trusted punk and hardcore show promoter, regularly booking out-of-town acts with Best locals in rooms from 529 in Eastmore...
JOSH FEIGERT wears many hats: State Laughter label owner, guitarist for GG King, Uniform, and at least one or two new groups that may or may not get off the ground. He's also Atlanta's trusted punk and hardcore show promoter, regularly booking out-of-town acts with Best locals in rooms from 529 in East Atlanta to Eyedrum Downtown. It seems there just aren't enough hours in the day for Feigert. His motivation is simply a desire to continue making punk and hardcore music, and to support others who do as well. And for Feigert, punk's not dead, and this is no nostalgia trip. A thriving network of young and outraged musicians is alive and thriving outside the typical rock club circuit in 2017, and we the people need it now more than ever. So when Hank and the Hammerheads from New York need to book a last-minute show, or when Best local acts such as Nag and Mutual Jerk need a home for their new 7-inches, tapes and LPs, Feigert is a pillar of the community with aspirations to keep building his network of recording, pressing, distributing and enabling punk rock. Feigert is there working the door at his own shows, and hustling to make it all happen, for the love of the music, the ideology and the community. www.statelaughter.storenvy.com. less...

Best album

Mastodon's Emperor of Sand
It's true. MASTODON was relegated to CL's Best of Atlanta Trophy Case in 2016. What else could the pride of Atlanta metal do to impress us after already receiving so many awards? In March, the arrival of the group's seventh proper album, Emperor of Sand, achieved what many thought couldn't be done: Themore...
It's true. MASTODON was relegated to CL's Best of Atlanta Trophy Case in 2016. What else could the pride of Atlanta metal do to impress us after already receiving so many awards? In March, the arrival of the group's seventh proper album, Emperor of Sand, achieved what many thought couldn't be done: The album reinvented the group's sound by expanding upon an already established snarl. Drummer Brann Dailor stepped up his role as vocalist fleshing out sharp and vivid new dimensions in Mastodon's sound, and the rest of the band adjusted its tangled metallic dirge to suit a recalibrated sound palette. The album's lead single, "Show Yourself," served as an easy access point for what shaped up to be an impressive return. Singer/guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher and bass player Troy Sanders exude a focused, fully charged presence in songs such as "Sultan's Curse," "Andromeda," "Steambreather" and more. BONUS: While the album was making waves around the world, here on the home front, the group unveiled Ember City Rehearsal Studios, a new Westside practice facility for a town that sorely needs practice spaces. It was a stellar year for the band that just keeps giving. www.mastodonrocks.com. less...

Best soul/jazz songstress

Brenda Nicole Moorer
BRENDA NICOLE MOORER is having one hell of a year. The sweet-voiced singer-songwriter kicked things off in April by releasing Brand New Heart, her second full-length „ and most critically lauded „ collection of jazz, soul and folk tunes. Then in May, she earned her first solo shot performing at themore...

BRENDA NICOLE MOORER is having one hell of a year. The sweet-voiced singer-songwriter kicked things off in April by releasing Brand New Heart, her second full-length „ and most critically lauded „ collection of jazz, soul and folk tunes. Then in May, she earned her first solo shot performing at the Atlanta Jazz Festival and, in the months that followed, played venues like City Winery and Variety Playhouse, opening for drummer Brandon Williams and other musical heavyweights. On top of all that, she recently struck a deal with P-Vine Records to get Brand New Heart distributed in Japan „ so we can only imagine that even bigger things are on the horizon.
www.brendanicolemoorer.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best artist to humanize the struggle

Donald Glover
Whether you preferred his work as DONALD GLOVER or Childish Gambino, no one put on for Atlanta quite like the 33-year-old Stone Mountain native. As writer, producer and actor Donald Glover won Golden Globes for his contributions to the runaway FX hit show "Atlanta." While accepting one of the two awardsmore...
Whether you preferred his work as DONALD GLOVER or Childish Gambino, no one put on for Atlanta quite like the 33-year-old Stone Mountain native. As writer, producer and actor Donald Glover won Golden Globes for his contributions to the runaway FX hit show "Atlanta." While accepting one of the two awards on the night „ Glover himself won the category of Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy, while the show itself took home the honor of Best TV Series Musical or Comedy „ he was also able to serve as Migos promo man of the year while springing what was already the biggest Atlanta hit in recent memory to an even broader audience. For most, that would be enough, but let's not forget he also released what many consider his best Childish Gambino project with Awaken, My Love! Glover had a massive year by any standard, and he made sure that as his star rose, his city followed. www.facebook.com/donaldglover. less...

Best songwriter

Faye Webster
FAYE WEBSTER possesses the kind of singular musical talent that comes along only so often in life. A songwriter with a capital "S," Webster knows the power of crafting lyrics from just a few words that are benign at a glance, but every subtle nuance lingers in the subconscious mind long after the songmore...
FAYE WEBSTER possesses the kind of singular musical talent that comes along only so often in life. A songwriter with a capital "S," Webster knows the power of crafting lyrics from just a few words that are benign at a glance, but every subtle nuance lingers in the subconscious mind long after the song is over „ each word meaning something different to anyone within earshot. For proof, look no further than songs such as "She Won't Go Away," "Say It Now" and "It Doesn't Work Like That" from her self-titled sophomore album, released this year via Awful Records. And while an underground hip-hop label seems an unlikely home for Webster's laid-back country and folk numbers, placing her sound palette and her swelling heart croon „ a discomfiting mix of secret seduction and rye humor „ alongside such left field hip-hop acts as Ethereal and Lord Narf only places her poetic allusions to politics, both personal and social, in a modern context. Webster breaks the mold of singer-songwriter tropes by paying respect to her craft while boldly reaching beyond the social and musical trappings of her natural musical genre's history and constructs. www.fayewebster.com. less...

Best gangster and a gentleman award

21 Savage
The 21 SAVAGE glo-up is real. In 2015, 21 was rapping gritty bio-tales about whipping work in Givenchy threads. Fast-forward to 2017 and he's laid up on a private jet with Amber Rose in matching Space Jam hoodies. Hey, even Slaughter Gang has to have a soft spot, right? Not only did the East Atlantamore...
The 21 SAVAGE glo-up is real. In 2015, 21 was rapping gritty bio-tales about whipping work in Givenchy threads. Fast-forward to 2017 and he's laid up on a private jet with Amber Rose in matching Space Jam hoodies. Hey, even Slaughter Gang has to have a soft spot, right? Not only did the East Atlanta native let back the curtain on his personal life, but with his debut album, ISSA, he revealed a social awareness many early critics assumed didn't exist. On "Nothin New," a stand-out from the project, he provides an expert's take on the crippling anxieties affecting communities like his across the United States, providing a rather nuanced thought from an artist whom too often is written off as shallow. www.21savage.com. less...

Best record label

DKA Records
Since its conception and growth out of the seasonal Sisters of Turkey Goth Danse Parties, DKA RECORDS has used its platform as a home for music to suit those who feel ostracized and who dwell in the shadows „ those who grow tired of stand-around rock shows, but who are also weary of mainstream musicalmore...
Since its conception and growth out of the seasonal Sisters of Turkey Goth Danse Parties, DKA RECORDS has used its platform as a home for music to suit those who feel ostracized and who dwell in the shadows „ those who grow tired of stand-around rock shows, but who are also weary of mainstream musical gatherings with no fog machine clouds in which to dance away their woes. Founded in 2013 by friends and DJs Chris Daresta (Anticipation), James Andrew Ford (Tifaret) and Matt Weiner (TWINS), DKA has released artists from around the world, from Northampton, Massachusetts' cold wave duo Boy Harsher to Brisbane, Australia's EBM innovator Multiple Man. The label's most recent addition, Berlin-based Sally Dige, puts a fine point on the group's modern take on goth and industrial-flavored synth pop. Dige's Holding On LP comes on the heels of the label finalizing a deal with Omnian Music Group for distribution. This gives Daresta, Ford and Weiner more time to focus on their own music and further expansion as they curate more sounds within the tiers of goth, dark electronic, industrial, electro-post-punk and EBM. www.dkarecords.bandcamp.com. less...

Best listening room for the sophisticated rocker

The Vista Room
Step inside THE VISTA ROOM and it's as though the air changes shape. The wood on the walls, the tables, the stage and the building itself feel as though they've been expertly crafted to serve the impeccable sound system. Standing adjacent to Napoleon's Grill, a gastro pub in Decatur's Oak Grove neighborhood,more...
Step inside THE VISTA ROOM and it's as though the air changes shape. The wood on the walls, the tables, the stage and the building itself feel as though they've been expertly crafted to serve the impeccable sound system. Standing adjacent to Napoleon's Grill, a gastro pub in Decatur's Oak Grove neighborhood, the Vista Room has hosted performances by everyone from Col. Bruce Hampton and the Swimming Pool Q's to Glenn Phillips, the reunited Hydra and Drivin' N Cryin', just to name a few. There's plenty of prog rock, bluegrass, country, folk and straight up rock 'n' roll occupying the stage throughout the week. The underlying theme tying it all together is called experience. The room is the fruit of Sean Keenan and Mike Rizzi's labors. Keenan is a restaurant entrepreneur, and drummer Rizzi (Five Eight) is a long-standing Georgia music veteran who's played in just about every musical environment one can imagine. With the Vista Room they've channeled the highs and lows of life on the road and an unending devotion to music into a comfortable and perfectly calibrated listening room that's all about bolstering the music, for the artists and for the audience. 2836 LaVista Road, Decatur. 404-321-5000. www.thevistaroom.com. less...

Best band to turn up and drown out current national politics

Art School Jocks
No, nobody should ignore the sinking ship that is the Trump presidency. But sometimes coming up for air, in the form of catchy protest pop (post-)punk, is what's needed to continue forging ahead. That's where ART SCHOOL JOCKS come in. With a well-crafted eponymous EP released in June via Father/Daughtermore...

No, nobody should ignore the sinking ship that is the Trump presidency. But sometimes coming up for air, in the form of catchy protest pop (post-)punk, is what's needed to continue forging ahead. That's where ART SCHOOL JOCKS come in. With a well-crafted eponymous EP released in June via Father/Daughter Records, the foursome of scene veterans combines various influences (post-punk, Britpop, emo) with socially aware lyrics. Hit 'Just a Gwen, which garnered the group national attention via NPR, Stereogum and Mother Jones, explores and denounces the dark irony of victim-blaming culture Ñ don't dress that way, watch your drink Ñ around sexual harassment and assault. This music is the perfect salve for these hard times. www.artschooljocks.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best local promoter

Zero Mile
Over the last few years, Atlanta has witnessed a dramatic spike in the quantity and quality of music being booked across the board. From corporate behemoths to DIY guys booking smaller rooms, competition among promoters is thick. When the management and promotions teams behind Terminal West (led by Scottmore...
Over the last few years, Atlanta has witnessed a dramatic spike in the quantity and quality of music being booked across the board. From corporate behemoths to DIY guys booking smaller rooms, competition among promoters is thick. When the management and promotions teams behind Terminal West (led by Scott Orvold and Alan Sher) and Agon Entertainment announced they'd partnered to launch ZERO MILE, the new organization took over booking for Athens' Georgia Theatre, and Atlanta's Variety Playhouse and Terminal West, while working with other venues, as well. Working together, Zero Mile put into place a network that allowed for all three venues to flourish together as a viable independent operation. Since May, Zero Mile has booked everyone from Waka Flocka Flame to Gillian Welch, tackling a broad range of musical terrain. Zero Mile will also oversee booking and promotion for the music venue being built as part of the upcoming Atlanta Dairies development on Memorial Drive. As Atlanta continues its dominance as one of the most vibrant cities in the Southeast, Zero Mile's ingenuity and dedication to building from the ground up has positioned the organization as a major player, primed for expansion and growth as a leader of Georgia music. www.zeromile.com. less...

Best trap music ambassadors

Migos
Are MIGOS really bigger than the Beatles? No. But Offset, Quavo and Takeoff are the de facto leaders of the new school. The album Culture received a massive boost by the success of "Bad and Boujee," and has since seen "T-Shirt" and the Gucci Mane-aided "Slippery" gain steam as legitimate mainstream hits.more...
Are MIGOS really bigger than the Beatles? No. But Offset, Quavo and Takeoff are the de facto leaders of the new school. The album Culture received a massive boost by the success of "Bad and Boujee," and has since seen "T-Shirt" and the Gucci Mane-aided "Slippery" gain steam as legitimate mainstream hits. The group's style of call-and-response ad-libs reminiscent of '50s era doo-wop groups have both innovated and redefined how melody is used in hip-hop across the board. A lot of young artists are direct descendants of the style that the Northside trio has been cultivating for years now, and the broader music world has finally taken notice. www.migosonline.com. less...

Best instrumentalist

Marquinn "Quinn" Masonry
On any given night of the week, MARQUINN "QUINN" MASONRY can be found playing music from Gallery 992 (his regular spot) and Aisle 5 to the wilds of the Atlanta Beltline, sputtering and blowing into an alto saxophone. Be it with the Convergence, the Wolfpack, Konda, Leo Project, Charolastra or some othermore...

On any given night of the week, MARQUINN "QUINN" MASONRY can be found playing music from Gallery 992 (his regular spot) and Aisle 5 to the wilds of the Atlanta Beltline, sputtering and blowing into an alto saxophone. Be it with the Convergence, the Wolfpack, Konda, Leo Project, Charolastra or some other spontaneously formed ensemble, Masonry is a tempestuous player looming over Atlanta's free jazz and improvised music scene. He's a MVP for anyone who's paying attention; the kind of player who doesn't have to show up for practice and still nail his performance every time. Masonry's thoughtful yet emotional performances pack in variety and passion, enough to transfix anyone within earshot, and his influence can be discerned not only in the work of his Best local music compatriots, but further afield via such icon musicians as Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Sonny Stitt and John Coltrane. Even when he's between parts, quietly listening to the rest of the musicians on stage, waiting for his cue, Masonry is dialed into his own wavelength. He lives the music he plays, and it's his sense of intuition that guides his music and leaves an impression on his fellow performers and anyone who has gathered to take in his presence.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best band sticking to its guns

Biters
BITERS tirelessly chase rock stardom in a world that doesn't know how much it needs rock stars. Even when mainstream rock music had a cleaner bill of health, the journey to the top was often fast-tracked by creative and aesthetic compromises. Fortunately, Biters aren't about to take a single shortcut.more...
BITERS tirelessly chase rock stardom in a world that doesn't know how much it needs rock stars. Even when mainstream rock music had a cleaner bill of health, the journey to the top was often fast-tracked by creative and aesthetic compromises. Fortunately, Biters aren't about to take a single shortcut. The band's dedication to classic punk and rock 'n' roll sounds is steadfast, so don't expect to ever hear singer Tuk Smith rap over artificial beats. They're never ditching the denim and leather or changing hairstyles, either. Each member is too dedicated to a look, a sound and a lifestyle to never sell out. www.bitersband.com. less...


Best local promoter

Glenn Goodhand of Iris Presents

Best album

Portrait by Deaux

www.moredopemusic.com/deaux

photo by: Lindsey Max

Best jazz night

Third Friday Jazz at High Museum of Art

Best nightlife event

Whiskey Blue's Full Moon Party

Best drag queen

Brigitte Bidet

www.facebook.com/missbrigittebidet

photo by: Dustin Chambers

Best karaoke

10 High at Dark Horse Tavern

Best music festival

Shaky Knees Music Festival

Best door person

Scott Schweitzer

Best concert venue

The Tabernacle


Best local promoter

Glenn Goodhand of Iris Presents

Best patron for the arts

Kebbi Williams
KEBBI WILLIAMS has spent a lifetime immersed in music. Spending decades traversing the late-night music scene, and landing a gig playing sax for the Grammy-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band seems more than worthy of earning a lifetime achievement award. And sure, when he rolls up to Kevin Scott's Tuesdaymore...
KEBBI WILLIAMS has spent a lifetime immersed in music. Spending decades traversing the late-night music scene, and landing a gig playing sax for the Grammy-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band seems more than worthy of earning a lifetime achievement award. And sure, when he rolls up to Kevin Scott's Tuesday night jam sessions at Elliott Street Deli & Pub, the city's finest players turn their heads in awe. But Williams' work on the ground level truly makes a difference. As one of the proprietors of Gallery 992, he's created an outpost for the arts, music, yoga and education in the West End. His annual Music in the Park blowouts in Howell Park place young students and professional musicians on a level playing field, and engage them all with music. After watching music education programs being stripped from public schools throughout the city, Williams has worked with more than 5,100 students and more than 300 professional musicians to crowds of more than 15,000 people. Now seven years deep, and still free for all to attend, Williams has done more than his share of heavy lifting for the arts; changing hearts and minds every step of the way. www.musicintheparkatl.org/gallery-992. less...

Best sound guy

Andrew Wiggins
Since taking over Johnny Rhum's role as production manager at the Earl in August 2016, guitarist and noise specialist ANDREW WIGGINS (Caesium Mine, ex-HAWKS) has brought his high level of expertise and professionalism to sound quality and production show after show. A tech at Acorn Amplifiers by day,more...
Since taking over Johnny Rhum's role as production manager at the Earl in August 2016, guitarist and noise specialist ANDREW WIGGINS (Caesium Mine, ex-HAWKS) has brought his high level of expertise and professionalism to sound quality and production show after show. A tech at Acorn Amplifiers by day, Wiggins' sound production stands out due to his personal touches to the Earl's sound setup, such as his mid-1970s Echoplex EP-3 he sometimes chooses to run through vocals. Having learned under Rhum and Curt Wells in his earlier days as sound guy around town, Wiggins maintains the reputation the two established at the Earl, continuously braving the impairments of tinnitus and bringing his insight and meticulousness of sound to bands' performances. His expertise and service of producing consistently impeccable-sounding shows with the attention and care he takes to make artists sound their best make him a standout favorite among Best local and touring bands and an asset in the Atlanta music scene. less...

Best act to kick footwork into the future

Charolastra
In February, when Peter Roglin released CHAROLASTRA's debut cassette, God Help Us, the project appeared to be a one-man operation: Roglin kept on track by producers Anthony Nolan and Tito Mazzetta. Throughout God Help Us, songs such as "Top of the World," "Microdream" and "Is Everything as It Seems"more...
In February, when Peter Roglin released CHAROLASTRA's debut cassette, God Help Us, the project appeared to be a one-man operation: Roglin kept on track by producers Anthony Nolan and Tito Mazzetta. Throughout God Help Us, songs such as "Top of the World," "Microdream" and "Is Everything as It Seems" make fine intros to Roglin's early obsessions with hip-hop, drum and bass, Chicago footwork and spacey ambient production. But when performing live on stage, Charolastra opens up dramatically. These days Roglin hesitates to even talk about the project without diverting attention to the band he has assembled, featuring guitarist Speros Kokenes, bass player Alex Pound, saxophone player Marquinn Mason and drummer Dylan Banks. On stage, the group takes a headlong dive into cosmic jazz excursions, bookended by Mason's towering presence walking the frontline of long, sustained moments of improv and beat-driven structures. Roglin lays low in the background, twisting knobs and watching over his devices with stoic presence, as the group digs into rhythms grooves and textures that transcend the instincts and temperament of modern musical trends. This is music that forges its own adventurous path from the group's collective conscious into the colorful outer regions of modern Atlanta music. www.charolastra.bandcamp.com. less...

Best dark horse in the running

J.I.D
Following the critical success of this year's The Never Story, J.I.D is firmly planted in hip-hop's conscious. The Spillage Village MC is the latest spitter to align himself with J. Cole's Dreamville imprint and may be the first out of the broadening collective to make a true move toward the mass appreciationmore...
Following the critical success of this year's The Never Story, J.I.D is firmly planted in hip-hop's conscious. The Spillage Village MC is the latest spitter to align himself with J. Cole's Dreamville imprint and may be the first out of the broadening collective to make a true move toward the mass appreciation of their label head. Hailing from East Atlanta, J.I.D, born Destin Route, describes his music as a true-to-life depiction of his early experiences in dealing with and overcoming the struggles of growing up amid drugs, violence and gang life. He matches this realism in subject matter with a knack for rhyme that places him at the top of the heap of the city's most respected and most talented lyricists. Pair that with an innate ear for melody, and it's looking like J.I.D might just be next to blow up. www.dreamville.com/artist/j-i-d. less...

Best overall music act

6lack
6LACK, the artist born Ricardo Valdez Valentine, took the city by storm in 2017. The sounds of his thick-as-molasses debut album, Free 6lack (Love Renaissance/Interscope), are more R&B than hip-hop, but when Valdez raps, his lyrics and delivery are on point in songs such as "Rules," "PRBLMS" andmore...
6LACK, the artist born Ricardo Valdez Valentine, took the city by storm in 2017. The sounds of his thick-as-molasses debut album, Free 6lack (Love Renaissance/Interscope), are more R&B than hip-hop, but when Valdez raps, his lyrics and delivery are on point in songs such as "Rules," "PRBLMS" and "Alone / EA6." 6lack's slow lyrical glide through dense, atmospheric production courtesy of Singawd, FWDSLXSH and Nova paint a chilly, nocturnal landscape that crept up on the city and the rest of the country, earning platinum sales for "PRBLMS." To celebrate his victory Valdez chopped off his dreads, which sent the public into a bit of a tizzy. It wasn't enough to hinder his phoenix-like ascent, though. 6lack's allure, presence and gravitas transcend simple vanity. Free 6lack is the spearhead of an artistic renaissance for Atlanta in the post-trap era, leading a return to mellow melodies and unconditionally excellence in the name of Southern aesthetics. www.free6lack.com. less...

Best album

Portrait by Deaux

www.moredopemusic.com/deaux

photo by: Lindsey Max

Best jazz night

Third Friday Jazz at High Museum of Art

Best nightlife event

Whiskey Blue's Full Moon Party

Best drag queen

Brigitte Bidet

www.facebook.com/missbrigittebidet

photo by: Dustin Chambers

Best live band

Material Girls
This year, Atlanta boasts a surplus of new and genuinely groundbreaking artists, as the city's DIY aesthetics evolve to reflect the political catastrophe that's unfolding across the country. When it comes to live shows, MATERIAL GIRLS stand head and shoulders above the rest, captivating crowds with snarlingmore...

This year, Atlanta boasts a surplus of new and genuinely groundbreaking artists, as the city's DIY aesthetics evolve to reflect the political catastrophe that's unfolding across the country. When it comes to live shows, MATERIAL GIRLS stand head and shoulders above the rest, captivating crowds with snarling cabaret/punk theatrics, dressed in drag. Tyler Jundt and David Iduate lead the charge blaring through trumpet and saxophone, while John Restivo Jr. pounds away on bongos and drums. The group's latest addition, Meghan Dowlen, struts on bass, while Robbie Rapp sears on guitar, and Ben Presley growls his sultry vocals. The group cuts through the subservience of boring, old street wear, as their stage presence and instrumentation rise above the trappings of just another Best local rock band. Since breaking the group's minimal online presence with the arrival of its debut album, MS VS IQ (released July 2016 via Irrelevant Records), Material Girls emulsify on stage with elements of glam and grit, hunky brass and dildos, wigs and pacifiers, and an attitude so natural the group doesn't give a shit if you buy it or not. www.soundcloud.com/materialgirlsusa

photo by: Rick Campbell

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Best way to get down and do good

La Choloteca
You can almost hear the screams of delight emanating from Atlanta's Latinx community and beyond anytime LA CHOLOTECA announces another new party. Creating safe(r) spaces for the late-night dance crowd, La Choloteca's organizers and party revelers abide by rules such as no groping, no hate and no bodymore...
You can almost hear the screams of delight emanating from Atlanta's Latinx community and beyond anytime LA CHOLOTECA announces another new party. Creating safe(r) spaces for the late-night dance crowd, La Choloteca's organizers and party revelers abide by rules such as no groping, no hate and no body shaming. Along the way, they wrangle a formidable lineup of DJs boasting Best local talents such as Esme, Florista, Santiago Paramo and more on the turntables, blasting the soundtrack to the party's unspoken rule: "Dance hard, all night." The party's tagline is "La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx" „ Atlanta's Latinx community and their rights to party „ but all are welcome, and the word is out. The last year witnessed exponential growth for La Choloteca. After settling into its new home at MJQ, hosting events such as the YA QUE?! cross-country tour of radical resistance, and hosting parties in New York City, La Choloteca raised the bar high for active activism and filling up a room with more beautiful people, inside and out, than anywhere else in the city. www.facebook.com/Choloteca. less...

Best place to take a selfie

The Pink Trap House
All right, that title's a little misleading, but who would have thought that a marketing idea for the latest 2 Chainz album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, would have created such a buzz around a craftsman home in Berkeley Park? 2 Chainz, born Tauheed Epps, and his team rented a home and blasted it inmore...

All right, that title's a little misleading, but who would have thought that a marketing idea for the latest 2 Chainz album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, would have created such a buzz around a craftsman home in Berkeley Park? 2 Chainz, born Tauheed Epps, and his team rented a home and blasted it in hot pink paint, creating a hot spot for like-hunting social media savants, and serving as much more than a selfie backdrop that drew people from across the country. THE PINK TRAP HOUSE, as it came to be known, at different points during its brief lifetime, acted as a nail salon, art gallery, church and even a Best locale to utilize the Fulton County Health Department's mobile HIV testing truck. All in all, this served as great promo for one of 2 Chainz's best albums. Turns out, the guy can make a hit. www.2chainz.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best hip-hop incubator

Controllerise
The cutting edge of underground hip-hop shines every Thursday night when the CONTROLLERISE vibe session takes over Slice Pizza. Weekly regulars such as LeemLizzy, Funk.Shu, Triiip the Hippy, house DJ Empress Rah and more may not be household names yet, but each one is a staple of the thriving beat showcasemore...

The cutting edge of underground hip-hop shines every Thursday night when the CONTROLLERISE vibe session takes over Slice Pizza. Weekly regulars such as LeemLizzy, Funk.Shu, Triiip the Hippy, house DJ Empress Rah and more may not be household names yet, but each one is a staple of the thriving beat showcase where young DJs, producers and intrepid MCs roll out their latest concoctions for a gathering of peers and like-minded Best locals. Controllerise was conceived by Chris Wilkes, aka STLNDRMS, and Mike Harr as a grass-roots effort to facilitate the overwhelming amount of raw talent they saw brewing around them. Over the last year, attendance has grown, while a revolving cast of beatmakers sharpen their skills with quick excursions to the outer limits. The communal vibe of the weekly party functions as an incubator for ideas where hip-hop heads bounce ideas off of each other, give feedback and provide a critical support system where everyone grows mutually. A fresh batch of instrumental music is always on blast, but an appreciation for all things anime binds the room together. Cartoons such as Ghost in the Shell play out in the periphery, and attendees register to win anything from action figures to T-shirts and other manga-related gear. Giveaways aside, this is ground zero for Atlanta's most creative young minds in hip-hop. Slice Pizza, 75 Piedmont Ave. S.E.
www.controllerise.com

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best band keeping old-school punk ethics alive

Antagonizers ATL
In times of overt bigotry and social unrest, ANTAGONIZERS ATL's songs offer uncompromising messages of unity and positivity. This street punk credo echoes as loud in these contentious times as jokey provocation or political sloganeering. Such anthems as "Hold Your Ground" and "Dead to Us" extol the valuesmore...

In times of overt bigotry and social unrest, ANTAGONIZERS ATL's songs offer uncompromising messages of unity and positivity. This street punk credo echoes as loud in these contentious times as jokey provocation or political sloganeering. Such anthems as "Hold Your Ground" and "Dead to Us" extol the values of self-respect and not taking shit off known enemies and false friends. The band's positive message resounds with listeners for two reasons. First, singer Bohdan Zacharyj, guitarist Richard Henderson, bassist Billy Fields and drummer Eric Antell perform loud and fast rock 'n' roll with roots that dig deep into U.S. and U.K. punk history. Second, and more importantly, all four members come across as genuinely well-intentioned old-school punks, sharing the music that changed their lives every time they take the stage. www.antagonizersatl.bandcamp.com

photo by: Shooting The Shot Photography

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Best modern classical composer

Chris Childs
Former Hello Ocho pianist/percussionist and Faun and a Pan Flute marimba player CHRIS CHILDS didn't take much time off over the last year. In June, Childs released a 30-minute composition, titled "If I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl." He composed the music amid a tight schedule bookended by touringmore...
Former Hello Ocho pianist/percussionist and Faun and a Pan Flute marimba player CHRIS CHILDS didn't take much time off over the last year. In June, Childs released a 30-minute composition, titled "If I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl." He composed the music amid a tight schedule bookended by touring with Hello Ocho, while also staying on the road with and releasing Faun's second album, 2014-2016. When not working on his own material, Childs wrote pieces for Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Somewhere in there he found time team up with cellist Ben Shirley and English horn player Carolyn Johnston as the Chris Childs Trio. The outfit was assembled to perform "If I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl," placing Childs' modern classical work on stages everywhere from dive bars to DIY venues along the East Coast. The music embraces the freeness of a small ensemble, while facing the musical challenges inherent in boiling the music down to just three instruments. But the ability to adapt is Childs' strong suit, as he shuns the notions of academic stagnation by allowing the piece to continue growing with each performance, no matter what obstacles life stacks in front of it. www.chrischildsmusic.com. less...

Best debut record

Pallas
PALLAS has garnered an impressive amount of national press on the heels of releasing the group's debut seven-song 12-inch via Drop Medium Recordings. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fi art-punk aesthetic. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fimore...
PALLAS has garnered an impressive amount of national press on the heels of releasing the group's debut seven-song 12-inch via Drop Medium Recordings. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fi art-punk aesthetic. Everyone from Impose to Clrvynt has weighed in on the band's lo-fi art-punk aesthetic. From the opening bass rumble of and high-speed rhythms of "Render (Location 13)" to vocalist Danielle Brutto's consistently unintelligible, but undeniably catchy shouts, the group's sound occupies a musical terrain that falls between post-punk and no-wave „ reminiscent of Sonic Youth, Palm or closer-to-home acts such as Warehouse, Red Sea and Hellier Ulysses. Bass player Valentina Tapia leads the charge here; her performance is especially impressive throughout "Cast a Lion, Cured a Crow." Guitarist Zane Durfee and drummer Decker d'Alesio are also at the top of their game in songs such as "Itchy Feet (Location 12)" and "Lavender Lout." It's a joyous experience to witness how experimental and fluid these seven songs are, while remaining grounded to melodies that are far beyond the group's years. www.facebook.com/pallasatl. less...

Best punk enabler

Josh Feigert
JOSH FEIGERT wears many hats: State Laughter label owner, guitarist for GG King, Uniform, and at least one or two new groups that may or may not get off the ground. He's also Atlanta's trusted punk and hardcore show promoter, regularly booking out-of-town acts with Best locals in rooms from 529 in Eastmore...
JOSH FEIGERT wears many hats: State Laughter label owner, guitarist for GG King, Uniform, and at least one or two new groups that may or may not get off the ground. He's also Atlanta's trusted punk and hardcore show promoter, regularly booking out-of-town acts with Best locals in rooms from 529 in East Atlanta to Eyedrum Downtown. It seems there just aren't enough hours in the day for Feigert. His motivation is simply a desire to continue making punk and hardcore music, and to support others who do as well. And for Feigert, punk's not dead, and this is no nostalgia trip. A thriving network of young and outraged musicians is alive and thriving outside the typical rock club circuit in 2017, and we the people need it now more than ever. So when Hank and the Hammerheads from New York need to book a last-minute show, or when Best local acts such as Nag and Mutual Jerk need a home for their new 7-inches, tapes and LPs, Feigert is a pillar of the community with aspirations to keep building his network of recording, pressing, distributing and enabling punk rock. Feigert is there working the door at his own shows, and hustling to make it all happen, for the love of the music, the ideology and the community. www.statelaughter.storenvy.com. less...

Best album

Mastodon's Emperor of Sand
It's true. MASTODON was relegated to CL's Best of Atlanta Trophy Case in 2016. What else could the pride of Atlanta metal do to impress us after already receiving so many awards? In March, the arrival of the group's seventh proper album, Emperor of Sand, achieved what many thought couldn't be done: Themore...
It's true. MASTODON was relegated to CL's Best of Atlanta Trophy Case in 2016. What else could the pride of Atlanta metal do to impress us after already receiving so many awards? In March, the arrival of the group's seventh proper album, Emperor of Sand, achieved what many thought couldn't be done: The album reinvented the group's sound by expanding upon an already established snarl. Drummer Brann Dailor stepped up his role as vocalist fleshing out sharp and vivid new dimensions in Mastodon's sound, and the rest of the band adjusted its tangled metallic dirge to suit a recalibrated sound palette. The album's lead single, "Show Yourself," served as an easy access point for what shaped up to be an impressive return. Singer/guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher and bass player Troy Sanders exude a focused, fully charged presence in songs such as "Sultan's Curse," "Andromeda," "Steambreather" and more. BONUS: While the album was making waves around the world, here on the home front, the group unveiled Ember City Rehearsal Studios, a new Westside practice facility for a town that sorely needs practice spaces. It was a stellar year for the band that just keeps giving. www.mastodonrocks.com. less...

Best soul/jazz songstress

Brenda Nicole Moorer
BRENDA NICOLE MOORER is having one hell of a year. The sweet-voiced singer-songwriter kicked things off in April by releasing Brand New Heart, her second full-length „ and most critically lauded „ collection of jazz, soul and folk tunes. Then in May, she earned her first solo shot performing at themore...

BRENDA NICOLE MOORER is having one hell of a year. The sweet-voiced singer-songwriter kicked things off in April by releasing Brand New Heart, her second full-length „ and most critically lauded „ collection of jazz, soul and folk tunes. Then in May, she earned her first solo shot performing at the Atlanta Jazz Festival and, in the months that followed, played venues like City Winery and Variety Playhouse, opening for drummer Brandon Williams and other musical heavyweights. On top of all that, she recently struck a deal with P-Vine Records to get Brand New Heart distributed in Japan „ so we can only imagine that even bigger things are on the horizon.
www.brendanicolemoorer.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best karaoke

10 High at Dark Horse Tavern

Best music festival

Shaky Knees Music Festival

Best door person

Scott Schweitzer
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