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Best of Atlanta 2018 After Dark

After Dark Online 1200



Best of Atlanta: Time again for CL’s critics and readers to celebrate the cultural fabric of the city that boasts the slogan, “Every Day Is An Opening Day.” When it comes to nightlife, the last year has witnessed growth and stability on all fronts. As rappers J.I.D and Childish Major solidified their places as cultural avatars, along comes Trouble, whose haunting Mike WiLL Made-It collab, Edgewood, lays the groundwork for a new chapter in Atlanta hip-hop. Old and new influences have found balance, giving rise to a new cultural identity based on strength through diversity. The young mavericks of Lunar Vacation, and their self-stylized “pool rock,” far exceed their years, crafting gorgeous indie pop melodies. Any time the group books a show at the Drunken Unicorn it’s a guaranteed sell-out, filled with fresh faces — new tenants of new Atlanta. Across the street, resident DJ Ree De La Vega’s Chaka Khan Hacienda takes the art of the day party to new heights of the imagination every Sunday at 8ARM. In the East Atlanta Village, Material Girls continue their reign as a veritable force of nature every time they take the stage. Dead Now took the city by storm with the massive riffs of their self-titled debut album, and who knew that after 18 years the Rock*A*Teens would strike like a thief in the night, delivering a career-defining set of songs with Sixth House. This is all just the tip of the iceberg for After Dark. Take a look, there’s plenty of room to roam around.

— Chad Radford, Music Editor


Featured


2018 Critics Pick: Best Acoustic Music Club/Venue BOA Award Winner

Eddie's Attic is known as an intimate venue for acoustic shows in a listening room setting perfectly calibrated for discerning ears. The audience is up close and personal with those onstage, giving rise to a cozy atmosphere for all. Grab a drink at the patio bar and mosey on in.

2018 Critics Pick: Best Album by a New Group BOA Award Winner

Dead Now: Self-titled LP (Brutal Panda)
It's rare that a new group comes out of the gate with their signature sound already dialed in, but the debut on Brutal Panda from power-trio Dead Now showcases a vision so distinct and developed that one wonders how long they sweated away in anonymity, honing their craft in some basement. While similarmore...
It's rare that a new group comes out of the gate with their signature sound already dialed in, but the debut on Brutal Panda from power-trio Dead Now showcases a vision so distinct and developed that one wonders how long they sweated away in anonymity, honing their craft in some basement. While similar in some respects to singer/guitarist Andrew Elstner's former group, Torche, Elstner and Co. have discarded anything nonessential to their new direction. The album cruises through a litany of huge riffs and catchy vocal melodies accompanied by Sabbath-y licks and nods to the spacey repetition of krautrock. With their melodic, hypnotic blend of heavy rock, Dead Now claims their sonic own territory. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Americana BOA Award Winner

Alex Guthrie Band
One-time local favorite the Alex Guthrie Band is now making waves touring the country with the bright, soulful hit, Colorado. Their latest single, Is It Me, carries the same beautiful arrangements from the first album, Lessons Learned, but with a funky, Stevie Wonder groove that will turn heads and carrymore...
One-time local favorite the Alex Guthrie Band is now making waves touring the country with the bright, soulful hit, Colorado. Their latest single, Is It Me, carries the same beautiful arrangements from the first album, Lessons Learned, but with a funky, Stevie Wonder groove that will turn heads and carry you to the dance floor. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Blues Ambassador for Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Tinsley Ellis
There has been no single Atlanta blues artist who is a more doggedly committed road warrior than Tinsley Ellis. This year started with a hometown show on the day of his new Winning Hand album release and he hasn't stopped since. From the dingiest of blues clubs to large and small festivals - even themore...
There has been no single Atlanta blues artist who is a more doggedly committed road warrior than Tinsley Ellis. This year started with a hometown show on the day of his new Winning Hand album release and he hasn't stopped since. From the dingiest of blues clubs to large and small festivals - even the classy Big Blues Bender in Las Vegas - if there's a stage Ellis plays it, meets and greets fans, and moves on to the next city. And he's been at it for the past three decades, all the while releasing a steady stream of albums. If anyone has earned the title of highwayman, not coincidentally the name of his 2005 live disc, it's Ellis. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Blues Supporter BOA Award Winner

The DJs and show names have changed, but WRFG's Good Morning Blues has held court weekdays from 6-10 a.m. for over three decades. The two two-hour slots feature a rotating cast of hosts, keeping the approach fresh as the music shifts between roots-heavy fare and contemporary artists, with an emphasismore...
The DJs and show names have changed, but WRFG's Good Morning Blues has held court weekdays from 6-10 a.m. for over three decades. The two two-hour slots feature a rotating cast of hosts, keeping the approach fresh as the music shifts between roots-heavy fare and contemporary artists, with an emphasis on local talent. It's an eclectic mix of music presented with few restrictions and no commercials. When touring acts stop in town, Good Morning Blues is the go-to place to find a pre-show interview, ensuring that Atlanta?s thriving blues community knows and supports these often fringe artists. Few cities can boast such an impressive and ongoing commitment to the blues. www.wrfg.org/good-morning-blues. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best College Hang-out BOA Award Winner

Ormsby's

2018 Critics Pick: Best Concert of Year (so far) BOA Award Winner

David Byrne at Shaky Knees
See more of Perry Julien's photos of David Byrne and the rest of this year's Shaky Knees festival here.

2018 Critics Pick: Best Cover Band BOA Award Winner

ATL Collective

2018 Critics Pick: Best Cutting Edge Drag Show BOA Award Winner

Molly Rimswell

2018 Critics Pick: Best Day Party BOA Award Winner

Chaka Khan Hacienda
Photo courtesy Ree De La Vega

2018 Critics Pick: Best Dive Bar BOA Award Winner

Trophy Room

2018 Critics Pick: Best DJ BOA Award Winner

Ree de la Vega

2018 Critics Pick: Best Event Host BOA Award Winner

Bridgette Bidet

2018 Critics Pick: Best Experimental Act BOA Award Winner

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel
See Chad Radford's March 2018 cover story Music Of the moment: Duet For Theremin and Lap Steel's long strange trip into the aether.

2018 Critics Pick: Best Gay Bar BOA Award Winner

Felix's

2018 Critics Pick: Best Hardcore Band BOA Award Winner

Abuse of Power
It's no surprise that Abuse of Power is the de facto leader of Atlanta hardcore. The group's View of the Few single, and a cover of Car Vs. Driver's Blame, are understated and message-oriented while avoiding pedantics. Each song defies the lack of diversity that plagues hardcore by the numbers withmore...

It's no surprise that Abuse of Power is the de facto leader of Atlanta hardcore. The group's View of the Few single, and a cover of Car Vs. Driver's Blame, are understated and message-oriented while avoiding pedantics. Each song defies the lack of diversity that plagues hardcore by the numbers with melodic riffs, sluggish/furious breakdowns, and vocals that elicit call-and-response, old-school-pile-on vibes. Such a tight, distinctive sound sets a high precedent for all of their counterparts to follow.

Photo courtesy of Farrah Skeiky

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Hip Hop DJ BOA Award Winner

DiBiasse, Roots Queen

2018 Critics Pick: Best Hip-Hop Album BOA Award Winner

Trouble: Edgewood
This album almost didn?t happen. Mike WiLL Made-It had to coax Trouble into the studio to get him to rap about his real-life experiences. He knew that the man born Mariel Semonte Orr had something powerful to say, and he had the prescience to bring Edgewood to life. The production is a low, dark hummore...
This album almost didn?t happen. Mike WiLL Made-It had to coax Trouble into the studio to get him to rap about his real-life experiences. He knew that the man born Mariel Semonte Orr had something powerful to say, and he had the prescience to bring Edgewood to life. The production is a low, dark hum that allows Trouble a fitting space to relive true stories of betrayals, relationships, and life on the streets. Trouble shines as a storyteller and as a rapper, bringing a visceral, minimal atmosphere to songs such as Bring It Back, Wuzzam Wuzzup, and Hurt Real Bad that no one could replicate, because no one has lived his life. www.soundcloud.com/troubledte/sets/edgewood. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Hip-Hop Hangout BOA Award Winner

The Palace

2018 Critics Pick: Best House DJ BOA Award Winner

Whitney AbstraKt. K

2018 Critics Pick: Best Jazz Jam night BOA Award Winner

The art gallery and community resource center owned by Grammy-winning saxophonist Kebbi Williams is the joint for jazz (and more) in the West End. This year, a Masters Series showcased vocalist Dwight Trible (who has worked with Patrice Rushen and Pharoah Sanders) and the New York-based Antione Rodneymore...
The art gallery and community resource center owned by Grammy-winning saxophonist Kebbi Williams is the joint for jazz (and more) in the West End. This year, a Masters Series showcased vocalist Dwight Trible (who has worked with Patrice Rushen and Pharoah Sanders) and the New York-based Antione Rodney Trio. Artists as diverse as shockabilly shaman Eugene Chadbourne, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love?s Large Unit free jazz ensemble, and Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Yjastros Flamenco Dance Company have presented amazing concerts. On most Sundays, the venue hosts Communion, a weekly brunch curated by local chefs, as well as a slammin? evening jam session, which attracts some of the city?s finest veteran and aspiring jazz improvisers, such Williams, Ali Barr, Dionne Farris, Phil Adair, Dallas Dawson, Marquin Mason, Melvin Jones, Paulino and Eric Fontaine. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Lesbian Bar BOA Award Winner

Queer Girl Atlanta
We didn't go with a bar this year, because there is technically only one left. (See Reader's Pick.) Instead, we're going with Queer Girl Atlanta. Traditionally, queer women have jumped into Uhauls together faster than hitting the clubs, but lately, we?'ve seen a new wave of young, spirited queer womenmore...
We didn't go with a bar this year, because there is technically only one left. (See Reader's Pick.) Instead, we're going with Queer Girl Atlanta. Traditionally, queer women have jumped into Uhauls together faster than hitting the clubs, but lately, we?'ve seen a new wave of young, spirited queer women in the city. Since (Not My) President Trump's election, they are flourishing with confidence and wear their pussy power like a badge of honor. Queer Girl Atlanta throws events not just at secluded gay bars, but spread love all over the city with their events and meetups. If you're a queer identifying female, single, or looking for friends, hit up Queer Girl Atlanta. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Live Band/Act BOA Award Winner

Material Girls
Punk rock is a slippery slope on the ground level. So many conditionals and pitfalls can throw all of that raw energy and genuine contempt for the status quo into bottom-feeder oblivion. Material Girls push all the right buttons with a show of smeared mascara-clad performers dressed in their cabaretmore...
Punk rock is a slippery slope on the ground level. So many conditionals and pitfalls can throw all of that raw energy and genuine contempt for the status quo into bottom-feeder oblivion. Material Girls push all the right buttons with a show of smeared mascara-clad performers dressed in their cabaret best, and they aren't afraid to take a stage dive amid a show of creepy-crawly rhythms, horns, and pure rage on the stage - the kind of show you mother warned you about when you were kid. No Facebook. No website. Go to the show and get a face full of fishnet and reality. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Live Production Company BOA Award Winner

Music Matters
If you've been to a show in Atlanta in the last few years, chances are Music Matters made it happen. From laser lights, video, and audio, a technological art is mastered that?s almost more impressive than the live act. Depending on who you?re seeing of course. Did you catch that David Byrne show at Shakymore...
If you've been to a show in Atlanta in the last few years, chances are Music Matters made it happen. From laser lights, video, and audio, a technological art is mastered that?s almost more impressive than the live act. Depending on who you?re seeing of course. Did you catch that David Byrne show at Shaky Knees? How about Bassnectar at Imagine Fest? Slow claps for Music Matters, please! less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Album BOA Award Winner

The Rock*A*Teens: Sixth House
After 18 years between albums, the Rock*A*Teens, longstanding purveyors of the Cabbagetown sound, return with a career-defining masterpiece. Sixth House embraces glowing production that transcends the spectral guitar noise that usually shrouds Chris Lopez's tales of woe and deceit in the haunted South.more...
After 18 years between albums, the Rock*A*Teens, longstanding purveyors of the Cabbagetown sound, return with a career-defining masterpiece. Sixth House embraces glowing production that transcends the spectral guitar noise that usually shrouds Chris Lopez's tales of woe and deceit in the haunted South. Lopez's songs are populated by desperate characters living amid a bucolic landscape, but complications forever simmer just beneath the surface. Songs such as Turn and Smile, Go Tell Everyone, and Closest To Heaven turn shattering pain into catharsis layered with reflection and emotional depth - the culmination of a lifetime spent navigating Atlanta?s mean streets. www.mergerecords.com/the-rockateens. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Blues Act BOA Award Winner

Delta Moon
Frontmen co-founders, dueling guitarists and songwriters Tom Gray and Mark Johnson have kept the blues faith for two decades, slinging out swampy, twin guitar goodness with several terrific albums. Babylon is Falling, the band's 10th and most recent release, is another winner that illustrates just howmore...
Frontmen co-founders, dueling guitarists and songwriters Tom Gray and Mark Johnson have kept the blues faith for two decades, slinging out swampy, twin guitar goodness with several terrific albums. Babylon is Falling, the band's 10th and most recent release, is another winner that illustrates just how strong and focused the group has become throughout the years. Gray's grainy voice is instantly recognizable, and a health scare a few years back seems to have reinforced his commitment to the dark, often eerie blues exemplified by hard-hitting originals Long Way to Go and the slinky/sexy Little Pink Pistol mixed with covers of songs by legendary Delta bluesmen R.L. Burnside and Howlin' Wolf, and there's even a cover of Louisiana Rain dating back to Tom Petty?s Mudcrutch days. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Country Band/Artist BOA Award Winner

Nikki and the Phantom Callers
Singer and guitarist Nikki Speake established herself as a songwriter with a capital S while performing as a member of psych rock trio Midnight Larks. With the Phantom Callers she proves you can take a woman out of a psych rock group, but you can?t take the psych rock out of a woman. With the Phantommore...
Singer and guitarist Nikki Speake established herself as a songwriter with a capital S while performing as a member of psych rock trio Midnight Larks. With the Phantom Callers she proves you can take a woman out of a psych rock group, but you can?t take the psych rock out of a woman. With the Phantom Callers, backed by bass player Anna Kramer, lead guitarist Aaron Mason, and drummer Russell Owens, the group traverses a dazzling rural landscape. Songs such as Prodigal Daughter, from their debut 7-inch, bring a singular rocking honky-tonk sound that delivers beautiful vocal harmonies with a profound message of identity. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local EDM performer BOA Award Winner

Treasure Fingers

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Folk artist/Band BOA Award Winner

Heart Hunters

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Hip-Hop Artist BOA Award Winner

JID
Take two minutes and 14 seconds out of your busy schedule and watch J.I.D's segment for the 2018 XXL magazine Freshman Cypher and it?s clear that the hype is well deserved. On the heels of releasing 2017's The Never Story via J. Cole's Dreamville Records, rapper J.I.D (born Destin Route), has blazedmore...
Take two minutes and 14 seconds out of your busy schedule and watch J.I.D's segment for the 2018 XXL magazine Freshman Cypher and it?s clear that the hype is well deserved. On the heels of releasing 2017's The Never Story via J. Cole's Dreamville Records, rapper J.I.D (born Destin Route), has blazed a path through Atlanta's underground hip-hop scene, smoking the competition on all fronts. Dude?s brain is blessed with a high-speed processor to rap harder, faster, and more coherently than anyone else who calls the Atlanta metro home. Over the last year he has shared the stage with Mac Miller, Thundercat, and the likes, and his up-coming sophomore album, DiCaprio 2, is building up to be Atlanta?s hip-hop event of the year. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best local hip-hop staple BOA Award Winner

Playboi Carti
In 2018, Playboi Carti took his signature brand of mumble rap and ran with it, creating the playful sing-rap style that defines his first proper album, Die Lit (Polydor). Carti, born Jordan Carter, possesses a high-pitched, scat-like rap style that sets him apart from his counterparts such as Lil Uzimore...
In 2018, Playboi Carti took his signature brand of mumble rap and ran with it, creating the playful sing-rap style that defines his first proper album, Die Lit (Polydor). Carti, born Jordan Carter, possesses a high-pitched, scat-like rap style that sets him apart from his counterparts such as Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, et al. Carti’s technique is fully on parade in songs such as “Right Now,” “Poke It Out,” and “Choppa Won’t Miss” feat. Yung Thug, creating infectious hooks and one liners like, “I'm on 'em beans for the real, I'm on the lean for real” in “Lean 4 Real” (feat. Skepta). Carti’s style is something to embrace. His energy and songs capture a snapshot of a young Atlantan in his prime. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Jazz Act BOA Award Winner

Russell Gunn & Royal Krunk
In July, Russell Gunn realized a dream project come true with the release of Get It How You Live, which features the Atlanta-based trumpeter-composer-producer?s 19-piece big band, the Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra. The polyglot nature of the city?s dynamic jazz scene is expertly manifest in Gunn?s hybridmore...
In July, Russell Gunn realized a dream project come true with the release of Get It How You Live, which features the Atlanta-based trumpeter-composer-producer?s 19-piece big band, the Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra. The polyglot nature of the city?s dynamic jazz scene is expertly manifest in Gunn?s hybrid concoction of jazz, funk, neo-soul and hip hop. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local MC BOA Award Winner

Childish Major

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Overall Music Act BOA Award Winner

Omni
Since releasing their exceptional sophomore album Multi-task via Chicago's Trouble In Mind Records, post-punk outfit OMNI just can't slow down. With ex-Hello Ocho guitarist Chris Yonker serving as live drummer, singer and bass player Philip Frobos and guitarist Frankie Broyles have taken their wiry conglomerationmore...

Since releasing their exceptional sophomore album Multi-task via Chicago's Trouble In Mind Records, post-punk outfit OMNI just can't slow down. With ex-Hello Ocho guitarist Chris Yonker serving as live drummer, singer and bass player Philip Frobos and guitarist Frankie Broyles have taken their wiry conglomeration of intricate riffs and angular grooves across the pond more than a few times for what?s shaped up to be a busy and successful year. The group waves its hometown banner further - geographically and aesthetically - than anyone else in the local rock scene. The new avenues on display with recent singles Sunset Preacher and Delicacy, are filled with promise for a deeper dive into the group's intrepid ways.

(Photo Courtesy of Omni's Facebook)

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Producer BOA Award Winner

Zaytoven

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Promoter BOA Award Winner

Zero Mile

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local R&B/Soul Act BOA Award Winner

Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics
An eclectic mix of smooth jazz and soulful R&B stylings culminate in a spiritual awakening when Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics take the stage. Whether performing live, or at any point throughout the group's latest album, State of All Things, Ruby Velle's voice rings out with bravado and a presencemore...

An eclectic mix of smooth jazz and soulful R&B stylings culminate in a spiritual awakening when Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics take the stage. Whether performing live, or at any point throughout the group's latest album, State of All Things, Ruby Velle's voice rings out with bravado and a presence that transcends the decades. Backed by the Soulphonics, the ensemble gives a nod to Stax Records' rich legacy of Southern soul, funk, and R&B, and plants it firmly in the here and now, with sass, sophistication, and an unbeatable sense of style.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics Facebook page

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Record Label BOA Award Winner

Boris Records

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Residency BOA Award Winner

Kimber

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Rock Act BOA Award Winner

Gringo Starr
The reports of rock 'n roll's death have been greatly exaggerated. Many local groups do their part to keep rock off music's endangered list, but none carry the mantle quite like Gringo Star. The group's blend of psychedelic garage rock is a smooth modern take on a classic sound. This juxtaposition ofmore...
The reports of rock 'n roll's death have been greatly exaggerated. Many local groups do their part to keep rock off music's endangered list, but none carry the mantle quite like Gringo Star. The group's blend of psychedelic garage rock is a smooth modern take on a classic sound. This juxtaposition of old and new is in full force on its latest release Back to the City (Nevado Music), which marries elements of '50s doo wop with the band's contemporary garage rock leanings. Michelle Malone less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Rock Hangout BOA Award Winner

The Earl

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Single BOA Award Winner

Flamingo Shadow
The fourth single released from Flamingo Shadow's debut full-length, Earth Music (Irrelevant Music), arrived as one of the group's catchiest numbers yet. It's also carries with it a subtle, Orwellian warning of a great AI fallout that seems inevitable at this point. But if you aren't looking for it,more...
The fourth single released from Flamingo Shadow's debut full-length, Earth Music (Irrelevant Music), arrived as one of the group's catchiest numbers yet. It's also carries with it a subtle, Orwellian warning of a great AI fallout that seems inevitable at this point. But if you aren't looking for it, you'll miss the candy-coated anxiety, wrapped in faux Caribbean and post-punk melodies - music that celebrates the mind and the body. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Song BOA Award Winner

Lil Baby - “Yes Indeed”

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Songwriter BOA Award Winner

Jordan reynolds
Singer and guitarist Jordan Reynolds, better known as the frontwoman for Rose Hotel, writes songs that are heartfelt, sincere, and poignant in a way that resonate with anyone within earshot. The secret to her universal appeal is a singularly inviting voice that builds on the traditions of the songwritermore...
Singer and guitarist Jordan Reynolds, better known as the frontwoman for Rose Hotel, writes songs that are heartfelt, sincere, and poignant in a way that resonate with anyone within earshot. The secret to her universal appeal is a singularly inviting voice that builds on the traditions of the songwriter canon, while stepping beyond the cliches of an introspective artist with a guitar and a glowing heart. Honestly is a strident indie folk ballad that covers the pain and release of letting go of a longstanding relationship, driven by distant and haunting melodies. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Vocalist BOA Award Winner

Indee Killed the Popstar
The inimitable Jennifer Zuiff, better known as Indee Killed the Popstar, takes the gold this year with her superhuman vocals. The songstress' classical and opera training allow her to melt hearts with ease. Not only are her vocals as flawless as it gets, but her passion for music fills the air with sweetnessmore...
The inimitable Jennifer Zuiff, better known as Indee Killed the Popstar, takes the gold this year with her superhuman vocals. The songstress' classical and opera training allow her to melt hearts with ease. Not only are her vocals as flawless as it gets, but her passion for music fills the air with sweetness and lights a fire inside anyone with a soul. She sings for herself - we're just lucky enough to bear witness. She's steadily working on a new record and has been actively playing shows around ATL and beyond. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Metal Underdog BOA Award Winner

Gunpowder Grey

2018 Critics Pick: Best Monthly Club Night BOA Award Winner

La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx

2018 Critics Pick: Best Music Festival BOA Award Winner

Shaky Knees Music Festival

2018 Critics Pick: Best Music Kingpin BOA Award Winner

Kyle Swick

2018 Critics Pick: Best Neighborhood Bar BOA Award Winner

As old Ponce gives way to condos, dental spas, and elective IVs (whatever the hell those are), the Righteous Room is as constant as the North Star. When the jukebox is on, it's pumping the Smiths, Love and Rockets, the Velvet Underground, and more to the tune of clinking beer bottles and friendly banter.more...
As old Ponce gives way to condos, dental spas, and elective IVs (whatever the hell those are), the Righteous Room is as constant as the North Star. When the jukebox is on, it's pumping the Smiths, Love and Rockets, the Velvet Underground, and more to the tune of clinking beer bottles and friendly banter. It's an unpretentious, not-too-hipsterish, relaxed, genuine neighborhood bar, which is in short supply these days. Be it a quick stop for patrons before checking out a movie next door at the Plaza Theatre, or an after- work haunt, the Righteous Room is where the locals go. The outdoor seating offers excellent front- row viewing of Ponce Life. Their veggie burgers (and their burger burgers) are one of a kind, and you can't beat the drink prices. The staff are friendly and easygoing. True school Atlantans wouldn't have it any other way. less...

2018 Critics Pick: BEST NEW MUSIC GROUP BOA Award Winner

Lunar Vacation
Few, if any, local groups have had as stellar of a first year as Lunar Vacation. The group's laid-back, surfy vibe seems to be exactly what the scene needed: a deserved reprieve from the hectic negativity that permeates almost every aspect of American life in 2018. -Since the group's debut, the nascentmore...
Few, if any, local groups have had as stellar of a first year as Lunar Vacation. The group's laid-back, surfy vibe seems to be exactly what the scene needed: a deserved reprieve from the hectic negativity that permeates almost every aspect of American life in 2018. -Since the group's debut, the nascent self-described "dreamy pool rock" group has put out three releases, embarked on its Artificial Flavors tour,- and, if the sold-out Bandcamp merch page is any indication, made quite a splash both locally and across the East Coast. www.lunarvacationatl.bandcamp.com. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best New Music Group BOA Award Winner

Lunar Vacation

2018 Critics Pick: Best new punk band BOA Award Winner

Harmacy
Scaling the walls of Atlanta's punk, hardcore, and DIY scenes, the paranoid chant that everyone is talking about this year is courtesy of Harmacy. Part noise rock, punk, and post-punk, the rising foursome unleashed a demo this summer that burst through genre barriers with a huge, chest-filling soundmore...

Scaling the walls of Atlanta's punk, hardcore, and DIY scenes, the paranoid chant that everyone is talking about this year is courtesy of Harmacy. Part noise rock, punk, and post-punk, the rising foursome unleashed a demo this summer that burst through genre barriers with a huge, chest-filling sound and wiry melodies. On stage, vocalist Brandon Reid tops off every shows with a visceral, brooding performance, sermonizing his lack of satisfaction with the state of the world, and forever pushing the music forward.

(Photo by Onyee Nwazue)

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Old School Punk band BOA Award Winner

Hanging Judge
In just over a year's time, the Hanging Judge laid the foundation for a no-nonsense punk charge that made a bold first stand with 2017's Hang 'Em High EP. Songs like Pawns, Emergency, and Life Is War? are tight, fast, and defiantly nonpartisan when it comes to whole left-right dynamic of American politics.more...
In just over a year's time, the Hanging Judge laid the foundation for a no-nonsense punk charge that made a bold first stand with 2017's Hang 'Em High EP. Songs like Pawns, Emergency, and Life Is War? are tight, fast, and defiantly nonpartisan when it comes to whole left-right dynamic of American politics. These guys preach the power of abiding by the old adage, "divided we fall." To raise proletariat spirits, the Hanging Judge has spent much of the last year sharing stages with legendary punk bands GBH, U.S. Bombs, and the Queers, riffing on the power of independent thought, and rising above the divisive tone of the times. (Photo by Tiffany Avera) less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Place to Hear Music BOA Award Winner

529
The beloved East Atlanta indie music venue and neighborhood bar recently underwent a facelift that more than tripled the size of its hallowed music room. That means bigger crowds, an amped-up sound system, a second bar, and, oh yes, more bathrooms (sorely needed). The change has perfectly positionedmore...
The beloved East Atlanta indie music venue and neighborhood bar recently underwent a facelift that more than tripled the size of its hallowed music room. That means bigger crowds, an amped-up sound system, a second bar, and, oh yes, more bathrooms (sorely needed). The change has perfectly positioned 529 as one of the city's premiere small concert venues. Local and touring bands alike flock to play there pretty much every night of the week. As such, music and merriment seep through walls and onto the village streets, inviting regulars and passersby to stop in, grab a drink, and join the rowdy crowd. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Record Store BOA Award Winner

Atlanta is blessed with three record stores that have thrived for 40+ years: Fantasyland, Wax 'n' Facts, and Wuxtry. It's Wuxtry, though, that sets the bar for Atlanta's vinyl shopping odyssey. The wall of new releases is a dazzling feature, meticulously organized and filled with retro and contemporarymore...
Atlanta is blessed with three record stores that have thrived for 40+ years: Fantasyland, Wax 'n' Facts, and Wuxtry. It's Wuxtry, though, that sets the bar for Atlanta's vinyl shopping odyssey. The wall of new releases is a dazzling feature, meticulously organized and filled with retro and contemporary alternative rock, post-punk, country, and jazz deep cuts. The bins are filled with new and used CDs, LPs, and boxes upon boxes of 45s that are well known for being full of obscure gems. The guys behind the counter offer a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Georgia music history, and if you want banter, these guys can verbally spar for days, all in the name of fortifying your record collection. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Sex Club BOA Award Winner

If you have to ask...
Unfortunately, all of the critics picks for Best Sex Club are off the record this year, but we can tell you this: There's a huge underground kink community in Atlanta right now. From rope fetish clubs that turn out some dope rope designs that just happen to have bodies tangled inside, to a secret members-onlymore...
Unfortunately, all of the critics picks for Best Sex Club are off the record this year, but we can tell you this: There's a huge underground kink community in Atlanta right now. From rope fetish clubs that turn out some dope rope designs that just happen to have bodies tangled inside, to a secret members-only club in Dunwoody where performances and voyeurism are encouraged. But quite possibly our favorite thing is the anonymity. Everyone's privacy is respected, hard rule, which is why we can't spill. Sorry! less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Small Concert Venue BOA Award Winner

Aisle 5
As far as small venues go, Aisle 5 takes the cake. There's a certain magic the Little 5 Points club possesses, one that's slightly creepy while simultaneously comforting. There's no telling what you're walking into at Aisle 5. Sometimes it's a local band and other days it's an EDM show. But one thing'smore...
As far as small venues go, Aisle 5 takes the cake. There's a certain magic the Little 5 Points club possesses, one that's slightly creepy while simultaneously comforting. There's no telling what you're walking into at Aisle 5. Sometimes it's a local band and other days it's an EDM show. But one thing's for sure: You're in for a good time. Bartenders are quick and friendly, ticket prices are within range for us average folks, and though the crowd is a mixed bag, it's always full of good people. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Underground Rapper BOA Award Winner

Hanzo
Hanzo comes out of the rising and revolutionary THOUGHTCRIME collective, which also harbors like-minded underground hip-hop artists Shrimp, Fair, and clancethemance. Earlier this year Hanzo dropped his first solo EP, simply titled Vol. 1, which showcases a chilled-out, airy production and strong hooksmore...
Hanzo comes out of the rising and revolutionary THOUGHTCRIME collective, which also harbors like-minded underground hip-hop artists Shrimp, Fair, and clancethemance. Earlier this year Hanzo dropped his first solo EP, simply titled Vol. 1, which showcases a chilled-out, airy production and strong hooks that guide stand-out numbers such as Fortnite and Frozen. Most importantly, though, Hanzo has left himself enough space to branch out into whatever direction he chooses, and with a first offering that's turning heads right out of the gate, Hanzo holds the keys to open many doors. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Unsung DJ BOA Award Winner

Tocayo

2018 Critics Pick: Best Used record Store BOA Award Winner

Ella Guru
Ask anyone who's made the drive into the wilds of Decatur's Leafmore/Oak Grove/Sagamore Hills neighborhood to check out Ella Guru, and the response is akin to a wild-eyed Dennis Hopper circa Apocalypse Now. Tales of mind-blowing records lining the store's bins and walls are true. It's all used vinyl,more...
Ask anyone who's made the drive into the wilds of Decatur's Leafmore/Oak Grove/Sagamore Hills neighborhood to check out Ella Guru, and the response is akin to a wild-eyed Dennis Hopper circa Apocalypse Now. Tales of mind-blowing records lining the store's bins and walls are true. It's all used vinyl, and owner Don Radcliffe and the tight crew he keeps know the value of a well-curated selection. Be it classic or obscure rock nuggets, country gold, hip-hop 12-inches, serious avant-garde scores, or deep cuts from Marion Brown, John Coltrane, or Sun Ra's catalogs, the dedication to quality over quantity is Ella Guru's strong suit. The prices are right, but bring a stacked wallet. You can't leave empty-handed. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Variety Show BOA Award Winner

Celestesia / Loner

2018 Critics Pick: Best Weekly Club Night BOA Award Winner

Over the last two years Ree De La Vega has watched Chaka Khan Hacienda at 8ARM grow from a Sunday afternoon Day Party for service industry folks into an arts and philanthropic institution. The party started when De La Vega assembled a crew of DJ cohorts including Florista, Vikki Powell, Jeremy Avalon,more...
Over the last two years Ree De La Vega has watched Chaka Khan Hacienda at 8ARM grow from a Sunday afternoon Day Party for service industry folks into an arts and philanthropic institution. The party started when De La Vega assembled a crew of DJ cohorts including Florista, Vikki Powell, Jeremy Avalon, Kieren Neely, and more to spin disco and house music. Collaborations with Dashboard Arts have yielded pool parties that people will talk about for years, and working with crafty entrepreneurs such as Flora Aura Portraits, who shoot multi-hued aura photography, and Hell Yeah Gluten Free, creates a cosmic-metropolitan atmosphere. The secret to rising above typical adult day party fare lies in these playfully sophisticated collaborations. Chaka Khan Hacienda also regularly doubles as a fundraiser, donating funds to organizations such as Girls Rock Camp and the Dream Warriors Foundation. less...

2018 Readers Pick: Best After Hours Spot BOA Award Winner

Clermont Lounge

2018 Readers Pick: Best Comedy Club/Venue BOA Award Winner

Dad?s Garage

2018 Readers Pick: Best Concert of Year (so far) BOA Award Winner

Imagine Dragons

2018 Readers Pick: Best Concert Venue BOA Award Winner

The Masquerade

2018 Readers Pick: Best Cover Band BOA Award Winner

Cowboy Kid Rock

2018 Readers Pick: Best Dance Music Club BOA Award Winner

MJQ Concourse

2018 Readers Pick: Best Dive Bar BOA Award Winner

Clermont Lounge

2018 Readers Pick: Best Hip-Hop Hangout BOA Award Winner

Magic City

2018 Readers Pick: Best Latin Club BOA Award Winner

Havana

2018 Readers Pick: Best Live Band/Act BOA Award Winner

Hunter Flanagan

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Album BOA Award Winner

Greco - Sassy Queens

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Blues Act BOA Award Winner

Michelle Malone

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Country Band/Artist BOA Award Winner

Hunter Flanagan

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local EDM performer BOA Award Winner

Eddie Gold

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Folk artist/Band BOA Award Winner

Isaac Streetman

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Hip-Hop Artist BOA Award Winner

The Black N Mild

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Jazz Act BOA Award Winner

OKCello

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local MC BOA Award Winner

MC Word

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Metal Artist/Act BOA Award Winner

Order of The Owl

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Overall Music Act BOA Award Winner

Hunter Flanagan

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Producer BOA Award Winner

Mike Froedge

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Promoter BOA Award Winner

Rival Entertainment

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local R&B/Soul Act BOA Award Winner

Mother's Finest

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Record Label BOA Award Winner

Madison Records

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Residency BOA Award Winner

Bird City Revolutionaries @ Elliot Street Pub

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Rock Hangout BOA Award Winner

The Earl

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Roots/Folk artist/act BOA Award Winner

Michelle Malone

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Song BOA Award Winner

Sassy Queen - Greco

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Songwriter BOA Award Winner

Michelle Malone

2018 Readers Pick: Best Local Vocalist BOA Award Winner

Hunter Flanagan

2018 Readers Pick: Best Music Festival BOA Award Winner

Shaky Knees Music Festival

2018 Readers Pick: Best Old School Punk band BOA Award Winner

The Vaginas

2018 Readers Pick: Best Record Store BOA Award Winner

Criminal Records

2018 Readers Pick: Best Sex Club BOA Award Winner

Trapeze

2018 Readers Pick: Best Sports Bar BOA Award Winner

The Albert

2018 Readers Pick: Best Strip Club BOA Award Winner

Clermont Lounge

2018 Readers Pick: Best Trivia Night BOA Award Winner

Hip-Hop Trivia ATL

2018 Readers Pick: Best Used record Store BOA Award Winner

Criminal Records

2018 Readers Pick: Best Weekly Club Night BOA Award Winner

Thursday at Whiskey Mistress

2018 Critics Pick: Best Acoustic Music Club/Venue BOA Award Winner

Eddie's Attic is known as an intimate venue for acoustic shows in a listening room setting perfectly calibrated for discerning ears. The audience is up close and personal with those onstage, giving rise to a cozy atmosphere for all. Grab a drink at the patio bar and mosey on in.

2018 Critics Pick: Best Album by a New Group BOA Award Winner

Dead Now: Self-titled LP (Brutal Panda)
It's rare that a new group comes out of the gate with their signature sound already dialed in, but the debut on Brutal Panda from power-trio Dead Now showcases a vision so distinct and developed that one wonders how long they sweated away in anonymity, honing their craft in some basement. While similarmore...
It's rare that a new group comes out of the gate with their signature sound already dialed in, but the debut on Brutal Panda from power-trio Dead Now showcases a vision so distinct and developed that one wonders how long they sweated away in anonymity, honing their craft in some basement. While similar in some respects to singer/guitarist Andrew Elstner's former group, Torche, Elstner and Co. have discarded anything nonessential to their new direction. The album cruises through a litany of huge riffs and catchy vocal melodies accompanied by Sabbath-y licks and nods to the spacey repetition of krautrock. With their melodic, hypnotic blend of heavy rock, Dead Now claims their sonic own territory. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Americana BOA Award Winner

Alex Guthrie Band
One-time local favorite the Alex Guthrie Band is now making waves touring the country with the bright, soulful hit, Colorado. Their latest single, Is It Me, carries the same beautiful arrangements from the first album, Lessons Learned, but with a funky, Stevie Wonder groove that will turn heads and carrymore...
One-time local favorite the Alex Guthrie Band is now making waves touring the country with the bright, soulful hit, Colorado. Their latest single, Is It Me, carries the same beautiful arrangements from the first album, Lessons Learned, but with a funky, Stevie Wonder groove that will turn heads and carry you to the dance floor. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Blues Ambassador for Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Tinsley Ellis
There has been no single Atlanta blues artist who is a more doggedly committed road warrior than Tinsley Ellis. This year started with a hometown show on the day of his new Winning Hand album release and he hasn't stopped since. From the dingiest of blues clubs to large and small festivals - even themore...
There has been no single Atlanta blues artist who is a more doggedly committed road warrior than Tinsley Ellis. This year started with a hometown show on the day of his new Winning Hand album release and he hasn't stopped since. From the dingiest of blues clubs to large and small festivals - even the classy Big Blues Bender in Las Vegas - if there's a stage Ellis plays it, meets and greets fans, and moves on to the next city. And he's been at it for the past three decades, all the while releasing a steady stream of albums. If anyone has earned the title of highwayman, not coincidentally the name of his 2005 live disc, it's Ellis. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Blues Supporter BOA Award Winner

The DJs and show names have changed, but WRFG's Good Morning Blues has held court weekdays from 6-10 a.m. for over three decades. The two two-hour slots feature a rotating cast of hosts, keeping the approach fresh as the music shifts between roots-heavy fare and contemporary artists, with an emphasismore...
The DJs and show names have changed, but WRFG's Good Morning Blues has held court weekdays from 6-10 a.m. for over three decades. The two two-hour slots feature a rotating cast of hosts, keeping the approach fresh as the music shifts between roots-heavy fare and contemporary artists, with an emphasis on local talent. It's an eclectic mix of music presented with few restrictions and no commercials. When touring acts stop in town, Good Morning Blues is the go-to place to find a pre-show interview, ensuring that Atlanta?s thriving blues community knows and supports these often fringe artists. Few cities can boast such an impressive and ongoing commitment to the blues. www.wrfg.org/good-morning-blues. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best College Hang-out BOA Award Winner

Ormsby's

2018 Critics Pick: Best Concert of Year (so far) BOA Award Winner

David Byrne at Shaky Knees
See more of Perry Julien's photos of David Byrne and the rest of this year's Shaky Knees festival here.

2018 Critics Pick: Best Cover Band BOA Award Winner

ATL Collective

2018 Critics Pick: Best Cutting Edge Drag Show BOA Award Winner

Molly Rimswell

2018 Critics Pick: Best Day Party BOA Award Winner

Chaka Khan Hacienda
Photo courtesy Ree De La Vega

2018 Critics Pick: Best Dive Bar BOA Award Winner

Trophy Room

2018 Critics Pick: Best DJ BOA Award Winner

Ree de la Vega

2018 Critics Pick: Best Event Host BOA Award Winner

Bridgette Bidet

2018 Critics Pick: Best Experimental Act BOA Award Winner

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel
See Chad Radford's March 2018 cover story Music Of the moment: Duet For Theremin and Lap Steel's long strange trip into the aether.

2018 Critics Pick: Best Gay Bar BOA Award Winner

Felix's

2018 Critics Pick: Best Hardcore Band BOA Award Winner

Abuse of Power
It's no surprise that Abuse of Power is the de facto leader of Atlanta hardcore. The group's View of the Few single, and a cover of Car Vs. Driver's Blame, are understated and message-oriented while avoiding pedantics. Each song defies the lack of diversity that plagues hardcore by the numbers withmore...

It's no surprise that Abuse of Power is the de facto leader of Atlanta hardcore. The group's View of the Few single, and a cover of Car Vs. Driver's Blame, are understated and message-oriented while avoiding pedantics. Each song defies the lack of diversity that plagues hardcore by the numbers with melodic riffs, sluggish/furious breakdowns, and vocals that elicit call-and-response, old-school-pile-on vibes. Such a tight, distinctive sound sets a high precedent for all of their counterparts to follow.

Photo courtesy of Farrah Skeiky

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Hip Hop DJ BOA Award Winner

DiBiasse, Roots Queen

2018 Critics Pick: Best Hip-Hop Album BOA Award Winner

Trouble: Edgewood
This album almost didn?t happen. Mike WiLL Made-It had to coax Trouble into the studio to get him to rap about his real-life experiences. He knew that the man born Mariel Semonte Orr had something powerful to say, and he had the prescience to bring Edgewood to life. The production is a low, dark hummore...
This album almost didn?t happen. Mike WiLL Made-It had to coax Trouble into the studio to get him to rap about his real-life experiences. He knew that the man born Mariel Semonte Orr had something powerful to say, and he had the prescience to bring Edgewood to life. The production is a low, dark hum that allows Trouble a fitting space to relive true stories of betrayals, relationships, and life on the streets. Trouble shines as a storyteller and as a rapper, bringing a visceral, minimal atmosphere to songs such as Bring It Back, Wuzzam Wuzzup, and Hurt Real Bad that no one could replicate, because no one has lived his life. www.soundcloud.com/troubledte/sets/edgewood. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Hip-Hop Hangout BOA Award Winner

The Palace

2018 Critics Pick: Best House DJ BOA Award Winner

Whitney AbstraKt. K

2018 Critics Pick: Best Jazz Jam night BOA Award Winner

The art gallery and community resource center owned by Grammy-winning saxophonist Kebbi Williams is the joint for jazz (and more) in the West End. This year, a Masters Series showcased vocalist Dwight Trible (who has worked with Patrice Rushen and Pharoah Sanders) and the New York-based Antione Rodneymore...
The art gallery and community resource center owned by Grammy-winning saxophonist Kebbi Williams is the joint for jazz (and more) in the West End. This year, a Masters Series showcased vocalist Dwight Trible (who has worked with Patrice Rushen and Pharoah Sanders) and the New York-based Antione Rodney Trio. Artists as diverse as shockabilly shaman Eugene Chadbourne, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love?s Large Unit free jazz ensemble, and Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Yjastros Flamenco Dance Company have presented amazing concerts. On most Sundays, the venue hosts Communion, a weekly brunch curated by local chefs, as well as a slammin? evening jam session, which attracts some of the city?s finest veteran and aspiring jazz improvisers, such Williams, Ali Barr, Dionne Farris, Phil Adair, Dallas Dawson, Marquin Mason, Melvin Jones, Paulino and Eric Fontaine. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Lesbian Bar BOA Award Winner

Queer Girl Atlanta
We didn't go with a bar this year, because there is technically only one left. (See Reader's Pick.) Instead, we're going with Queer Girl Atlanta. Traditionally, queer women have jumped into Uhauls together faster than hitting the clubs, but lately, we?'ve seen a new wave of young, spirited queer womenmore...
We didn't go with a bar this year, because there is technically only one left. (See Reader's Pick.) Instead, we're going with Queer Girl Atlanta. Traditionally, queer women have jumped into Uhauls together faster than hitting the clubs, but lately, we?'ve seen a new wave of young, spirited queer women in the city. Since (Not My) President Trump's election, they are flourishing with confidence and wear their pussy power like a badge of honor. Queer Girl Atlanta throws events not just at secluded gay bars, but spread love all over the city with their events and meetups. If you're a queer identifying female, single, or looking for friends, hit up Queer Girl Atlanta. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Live Band/Act BOA Award Winner

Material Girls
Punk rock is a slippery slope on the ground level. So many conditionals and pitfalls can throw all of that raw energy and genuine contempt for the status quo into bottom-feeder oblivion. Material Girls push all the right buttons with a show of smeared mascara-clad performers dressed in their cabaretmore...
Punk rock is a slippery slope on the ground level. So many conditionals and pitfalls can throw all of that raw energy and genuine contempt for the status quo into bottom-feeder oblivion. Material Girls push all the right buttons with a show of smeared mascara-clad performers dressed in their cabaret best, and they aren't afraid to take a stage dive amid a show of creepy-crawly rhythms, horns, and pure rage on the stage - the kind of show you mother warned you about when you were kid. No Facebook. No website. Go to the show and get a face full of fishnet and reality. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Live Production Company BOA Award Winner

Music Matters
If you've been to a show in Atlanta in the last few years, chances are Music Matters made it happen. From laser lights, video, and audio, a technological art is mastered that?s almost more impressive than the live act. Depending on who you?re seeing of course. Did you catch that David Byrne show at Shakymore...
If you've been to a show in Atlanta in the last few years, chances are Music Matters made it happen. From laser lights, video, and audio, a technological art is mastered that?s almost more impressive than the live act. Depending on who you?re seeing of course. Did you catch that David Byrne show at Shaky Knees? How about Bassnectar at Imagine Fest? Slow claps for Music Matters, please! less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Album BOA Award Winner

The Rock*A*Teens: Sixth House
After 18 years between albums, the Rock*A*Teens, longstanding purveyors of the Cabbagetown sound, return with a career-defining masterpiece. Sixth House embraces glowing production that transcends the spectral guitar noise that usually shrouds Chris Lopez's tales of woe and deceit in the haunted South.more...
After 18 years between albums, the Rock*A*Teens, longstanding purveyors of the Cabbagetown sound, return with a career-defining masterpiece. Sixth House embraces glowing production that transcends the spectral guitar noise that usually shrouds Chris Lopez's tales of woe and deceit in the haunted South. Lopez's songs are populated by desperate characters living amid a bucolic landscape, but complications forever simmer just beneath the surface. Songs such as Turn and Smile, Go Tell Everyone, and Closest To Heaven turn shattering pain into catharsis layered with reflection and emotional depth - the culmination of a lifetime spent navigating Atlanta?s mean streets. www.mergerecords.com/the-rockateens. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Blues Act BOA Award Winner

Delta Moon
Frontmen co-founders, dueling guitarists and songwriters Tom Gray and Mark Johnson have kept the blues faith for two decades, slinging out swampy, twin guitar goodness with several terrific albums. Babylon is Falling, the band's 10th and most recent release, is another winner that illustrates just howmore...
Frontmen co-founders, dueling guitarists and songwriters Tom Gray and Mark Johnson have kept the blues faith for two decades, slinging out swampy, twin guitar goodness with several terrific albums. Babylon is Falling, the band's 10th and most recent release, is another winner that illustrates just how strong and focused the group has become throughout the years. Gray's grainy voice is instantly recognizable, and a health scare a few years back seems to have reinforced his commitment to the dark, often eerie blues exemplified by hard-hitting originals Long Way to Go and the slinky/sexy Little Pink Pistol mixed with covers of songs by legendary Delta bluesmen R.L. Burnside and Howlin' Wolf, and there's even a cover of Louisiana Rain dating back to Tom Petty?s Mudcrutch days. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Country Band/Artist BOA Award Winner

Nikki and the Phantom Callers
Singer and guitarist Nikki Speake established herself as a songwriter with a capital S while performing as a member of psych rock trio Midnight Larks. With the Phantom Callers she proves you can take a woman out of a psych rock group, but you can?t take the psych rock out of a woman. With the Phantommore...
Singer and guitarist Nikki Speake established herself as a songwriter with a capital S while performing as a member of psych rock trio Midnight Larks. With the Phantom Callers she proves you can take a woman out of a psych rock group, but you can?t take the psych rock out of a woman. With the Phantom Callers, backed by bass player Anna Kramer, lead guitarist Aaron Mason, and drummer Russell Owens, the group traverses a dazzling rural landscape. Songs such as Prodigal Daughter, from their debut 7-inch, bring a singular rocking honky-tonk sound that delivers beautiful vocal harmonies with a profound message of identity. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local EDM performer BOA Award Winner

Treasure Fingers

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Folk artist/Band BOA Award Winner

Heart Hunters

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Hip-Hop Artist BOA Award Winner

JID
Take two minutes and 14 seconds out of your busy schedule and watch J.I.D's segment for the 2018 XXL magazine Freshman Cypher and it?s clear that the hype is well deserved. On the heels of releasing 2017's The Never Story via J. Cole's Dreamville Records, rapper J.I.D (born Destin Route), has blazedmore...
Take two minutes and 14 seconds out of your busy schedule and watch J.I.D's segment for the 2018 XXL magazine Freshman Cypher and it?s clear that the hype is well deserved. On the heels of releasing 2017's The Never Story via J. Cole's Dreamville Records, rapper J.I.D (born Destin Route), has blazed a path through Atlanta's underground hip-hop scene, smoking the competition on all fronts. Dude?s brain is blessed with a high-speed processor to rap harder, faster, and more coherently than anyone else who calls the Atlanta metro home. Over the last year he has shared the stage with Mac Miller, Thundercat, and the likes, and his up-coming sophomore album, DiCaprio 2, is building up to be Atlanta?s hip-hop event of the year. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best local hip-hop staple BOA Award Winner

Playboi Carti
In 2018, Playboi Carti took his signature brand of mumble rap and ran with it, creating the playful sing-rap style that defines his first proper album, Die Lit (Polydor). Carti, born Jordan Carter, possesses a high-pitched, scat-like rap style that sets him apart from his counterparts such as Lil Uzimore...
In 2018, Playboi Carti took his signature brand of mumble rap and ran with it, creating the playful sing-rap style that defines his first proper album, Die Lit (Polydor). Carti, born Jordan Carter, possesses a high-pitched, scat-like rap style that sets him apart from his counterparts such as Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, et al. Carti’s technique is fully on parade in songs such as “Right Now,” “Poke It Out,” and “Choppa Won’t Miss” feat. Yung Thug, creating infectious hooks and one liners like, “I'm on 'em beans for the real, I'm on the lean for real” in “Lean 4 Real” (feat. Skepta). Carti’s style is something to embrace. His energy and songs capture a snapshot of a young Atlantan in his prime. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Jazz Act BOA Award Winner

Russell Gunn & Royal Krunk
In July, Russell Gunn realized a dream project come true with the release of Get It How You Live, which features the Atlanta-based trumpeter-composer-producer?s 19-piece big band, the Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra. The polyglot nature of the city?s dynamic jazz scene is expertly manifest in Gunn?s hybridmore...
In July, Russell Gunn realized a dream project come true with the release of Get It How You Live, which features the Atlanta-based trumpeter-composer-producer?s 19-piece big band, the Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra. The polyglot nature of the city?s dynamic jazz scene is expertly manifest in Gunn?s hybrid concoction of jazz, funk, neo-soul and hip hop. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local MC BOA Award Winner

Childish Major

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Overall Music Act BOA Award Winner

Omni
Since releasing their exceptional sophomore album Multi-task via Chicago's Trouble In Mind Records, post-punk outfit OMNI just can't slow down. With ex-Hello Ocho guitarist Chris Yonker serving as live drummer, singer and bass player Philip Frobos and guitarist Frankie Broyles have taken their wiry conglomerationmore...

Since releasing their exceptional sophomore album Multi-task via Chicago's Trouble In Mind Records, post-punk outfit OMNI just can't slow down. With ex-Hello Ocho guitarist Chris Yonker serving as live drummer, singer and bass player Philip Frobos and guitarist Frankie Broyles have taken their wiry conglomeration of intricate riffs and angular grooves across the pond more than a few times for what?s shaped up to be a busy and successful year. The group waves its hometown banner further - geographically and aesthetically - than anyone else in the local rock scene. The new avenues on display with recent singles Sunset Preacher and Delicacy, are filled with promise for a deeper dive into the group's intrepid ways.

(Photo Courtesy of Omni's Facebook)

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Producer BOA Award Winner

Zaytoven

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Promoter BOA Award Winner

Zero Mile

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local R&B/Soul Act BOA Award Winner

Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics
An eclectic mix of smooth jazz and soulful R&B stylings culminate in a spiritual awakening when Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics take the stage. Whether performing live, or at any point throughout the group's latest album, State of All Things, Ruby Velle's voice rings out with bravado and a presencemore...

An eclectic mix of smooth jazz and soulful R&B stylings culminate in a spiritual awakening when Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics take the stage. Whether performing live, or at any point throughout the group's latest album, State of All Things, Ruby Velle's voice rings out with bravado and a presence that transcends the decades. Backed by the Soulphonics, the ensemble gives a nod to Stax Records' rich legacy of Southern soul, funk, and R&B, and plants it firmly in the here and now, with sass, sophistication, and an unbeatable sense of style.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics Facebook page

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Record Label BOA Award Winner

Boris Records

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Residency BOA Award Winner

Kimber

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Rock Act BOA Award Winner

Gringo Starr
The reports of rock 'n roll's death have been greatly exaggerated. Many local groups do their part to keep rock off music's endangered list, but none carry the mantle quite like Gringo Star. The group's blend of psychedelic garage rock is a smooth modern take on a classic sound. This juxtaposition ofmore...
The reports of rock 'n roll's death have been greatly exaggerated. Many local groups do their part to keep rock off music's endangered list, but none carry the mantle quite like Gringo Star. The group's blend of psychedelic garage rock is a smooth modern take on a classic sound. This juxtaposition of old and new is in full force on its latest release Back to the City (Nevado Music), which marries elements of '50s doo wop with the band's contemporary garage rock leanings. Michelle Malone less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Rock Hangout BOA Award Winner

The Earl

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Single BOA Award Winner

Flamingo Shadow
The fourth single released from Flamingo Shadow's debut full-length, Earth Music (Irrelevant Music), arrived as one of the group's catchiest numbers yet. It's also carries with it a subtle, Orwellian warning of a great AI fallout that seems inevitable at this point. But if you aren't looking for it,more...
The fourth single released from Flamingo Shadow's debut full-length, Earth Music (Irrelevant Music), arrived as one of the group's catchiest numbers yet. It's also carries with it a subtle, Orwellian warning of a great AI fallout that seems inevitable at this point. But if you aren't looking for it, you'll miss the candy-coated anxiety, wrapped in faux Caribbean and post-punk melodies - music that celebrates the mind and the body. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Song BOA Award Winner

Lil Baby - “Yes Indeed”

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Songwriter BOA Award Winner

Jordan reynolds
Singer and guitarist Jordan Reynolds, better known as the frontwoman for Rose Hotel, writes songs that are heartfelt, sincere, and poignant in a way that resonate with anyone within earshot. The secret to her universal appeal is a singularly inviting voice that builds on the traditions of the songwritermore...
Singer and guitarist Jordan Reynolds, better known as the frontwoman for Rose Hotel, writes songs that are heartfelt, sincere, and poignant in a way that resonate with anyone within earshot. The secret to her universal appeal is a singularly inviting voice that builds on the traditions of the songwriter canon, while stepping beyond the cliches of an introspective artist with a guitar and a glowing heart. Honestly is a strident indie folk ballad that covers the pain and release of letting go of a longstanding relationship, driven by distant and haunting melodies. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Local Vocalist BOA Award Winner

Indee Killed the Popstar
The inimitable Jennifer Zuiff, better known as Indee Killed the Popstar, takes the gold this year with her superhuman vocals. The songstress' classical and opera training allow her to melt hearts with ease. Not only are her vocals as flawless as it gets, but her passion for music fills the air with sweetnessmore...
The inimitable Jennifer Zuiff, better known as Indee Killed the Popstar, takes the gold this year with her superhuman vocals. The songstress' classical and opera training allow her to melt hearts with ease. Not only are her vocals as flawless as it gets, but her passion for music fills the air with sweetness and lights a fire inside anyone with a soul. She sings for herself - we're just lucky enough to bear witness. She's steadily working on a new record and has been actively playing shows around ATL and beyond. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Metal Underdog BOA Award Winner

Gunpowder Grey

2018 Critics Pick: Best Monthly Club Night BOA Award Winner

La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx

2018 Critics Pick: Best Music Festival BOA Award Winner

Shaky Knees Music Festival

2018 Critics Pick: Best Music Kingpin BOA Award Winner

Kyle Swick

2018 Critics Pick: Best Neighborhood Bar BOA Award Winner

As old Ponce gives way to condos, dental spas, and elective IVs (whatever the hell those are), the Righteous Room is as constant as the North Star. When the jukebox is on, it's pumping the Smiths, Love and Rockets, the Velvet Underground, and more to the tune of clinking beer bottles and friendly banter.more...
As old Ponce gives way to condos, dental spas, and elective IVs (whatever the hell those are), the Righteous Room is as constant as the North Star. When the jukebox is on, it's pumping the Smiths, Love and Rockets, the Velvet Underground, and more to the tune of clinking beer bottles and friendly banter. It's an unpretentious, not-too-hipsterish, relaxed, genuine neighborhood bar, which is in short supply these days. Be it a quick stop for patrons before checking out a movie next door at the Plaza Theatre, or an after- work haunt, the Righteous Room is where the locals go. The outdoor seating offers excellent front- row viewing of Ponce Life. Their veggie burgers (and their burger burgers) are one of a kind, and you can't beat the drink prices. The staff are friendly and easygoing. True school Atlantans wouldn't have it any other way. less...

2018 Critics Pick: BEST NEW MUSIC GROUP BOA Award Winner

Lunar Vacation
Few, if any, local groups have had as stellar of a first year as Lunar Vacation. The group's laid-back, surfy vibe seems to be exactly what the scene needed: a deserved reprieve from the hectic negativity that permeates almost every aspect of American life in 2018. -Since the group's debut, the nascentmore...
Few, if any, local groups have had as stellar of a first year as Lunar Vacation. The group's laid-back, surfy vibe seems to be exactly what the scene needed: a deserved reprieve from the hectic negativity that permeates almost every aspect of American life in 2018. -Since the group's debut, the nascent self-described "dreamy pool rock" group has put out three releases, embarked on its Artificial Flavors tour,- and, if the sold-out Bandcamp merch page is any indication, made quite a splash both locally and across the East Coast. www.lunarvacationatl.bandcamp.com. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best New Music Group BOA Award Winner

Lunar Vacation

2018 Critics Pick: Best new punk band BOA Award Winner

Harmacy
Scaling the walls of Atlanta's punk, hardcore, and DIY scenes, the paranoid chant that everyone is talking about this year is courtesy of Harmacy. Part noise rock, punk, and post-punk, the rising foursome unleashed a demo this summer that burst through genre barriers with a huge, chest-filling soundmore...

Scaling the walls of Atlanta's punk, hardcore, and DIY scenes, the paranoid chant that everyone is talking about this year is courtesy of Harmacy. Part noise rock, punk, and post-punk, the rising foursome unleashed a demo this summer that burst through genre barriers with a huge, chest-filling sound and wiry melodies. On stage, vocalist Brandon Reid tops off every shows with a visceral, brooding performance, sermonizing his lack of satisfaction with the state of the world, and forever pushing the music forward.

(Photo by Onyee Nwazue)

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2018 Critics Pick: Best Old School Punk band BOA Award Winner

Hanging Judge
In just over a year's time, the Hanging Judge laid the foundation for a no-nonsense punk charge that made a bold first stand with 2017's Hang 'Em High EP. Songs like Pawns, Emergency, and Life Is War? are tight, fast, and defiantly nonpartisan when it comes to whole left-right dynamic of American politics.more...
In just over a year's time, the Hanging Judge laid the foundation for a no-nonsense punk charge that made a bold first stand with 2017's Hang 'Em High EP. Songs like Pawns, Emergency, and Life Is War? are tight, fast, and defiantly nonpartisan when it comes to whole left-right dynamic of American politics. These guys preach the power of abiding by the old adage, "divided we fall." To raise proletariat spirits, the Hanging Judge has spent much of the last year sharing stages with legendary punk bands GBH, U.S. Bombs, and the Queers, riffing on the power of independent thought, and rising above the divisive tone of the times. (Photo by Tiffany Avera) less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Place to Hear Music BOA Award Winner

529
The beloved East Atlanta indie music venue and neighborhood bar recently underwent a facelift that more than tripled the size of its hallowed music room. That means bigger crowds, an amped-up sound system, a second bar, and, oh yes, more bathrooms (sorely needed). The change has perfectly positionedmore...
The beloved East Atlanta indie music venue and neighborhood bar recently underwent a facelift that more than tripled the size of its hallowed music room. That means bigger crowds, an amped-up sound system, a second bar, and, oh yes, more bathrooms (sorely needed). The change has perfectly positioned 529 as one of the city's premiere small concert venues. Local and touring bands alike flock to play there pretty much every night of the week. As such, music and merriment seep through walls and onto the village streets, inviting regulars and passersby to stop in, grab a drink, and join the rowdy crowd. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Record Store BOA Award Winner

Atlanta is blessed with three record stores that have thrived for 40+ years: Fantasyland, Wax 'n' Facts, and Wuxtry. It's Wuxtry, though, that sets the bar for Atlanta's vinyl shopping odyssey. The wall of new releases is a dazzling feature, meticulously organized and filled with retro and contemporarymore...
Atlanta is blessed with three record stores that have thrived for 40+ years: Fantasyland, Wax 'n' Facts, and Wuxtry. It's Wuxtry, though, that sets the bar for Atlanta's vinyl shopping odyssey. The wall of new releases is a dazzling feature, meticulously organized and filled with retro and contemporary alternative rock, post-punk, country, and jazz deep cuts. The bins are filled with new and used CDs, LPs, and boxes upon boxes of 45s that are well known for being full of obscure gems. The guys behind the counter offer a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Georgia music history, and if you want banter, these guys can verbally spar for days, all in the name of fortifying your record collection. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Sex Club BOA Award Winner

If you have to ask...
Unfortunately, all of the critics picks for Best Sex Club are off the record this year, but we can tell you this: There's a huge underground kink community in Atlanta right now. From rope fetish clubs that turn out some dope rope designs that just happen to have bodies tangled inside, to a secret members-onlymore...
Unfortunately, all of the critics picks for Best Sex Club are off the record this year, but we can tell you this: There's a huge underground kink community in Atlanta right now. From rope fetish clubs that turn out some dope rope designs that just happen to have bodies tangled inside, to a secret members-only club in Dunwoody where performances and voyeurism are encouraged. But quite possibly our favorite thing is the anonymity. Everyone's privacy is respected, hard rule, which is why we can't spill. Sorry! less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Small Concert Venue BOA Award Winner

Aisle 5
As far as small venues go, Aisle 5 takes the cake. There's a certain magic the Little 5 Points club possesses, one that's slightly creepy while simultaneously comforting. There's no telling what you're walking into at Aisle 5. Sometimes it's a local band and other days it's an EDM show. But one thing'smore...
As far as small venues go, Aisle 5 takes the cake. There's a certain magic the Little 5 Points club possesses, one that's slightly creepy while simultaneously comforting. There's no telling what you're walking into at Aisle 5. Sometimes it's a local band and other days it's an EDM show. But one thing's for sure: You're in for a good time. Bartenders are quick and friendly, ticket prices are within range for us average folks, and though the crowd is a mixed bag, it's always full of good people. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Underground Rapper BOA Award Winner

Hanzo
Hanzo comes out of the rising and revolutionary THOUGHTCRIME collective, which also harbors like-minded underground hip-hop artists Shrimp, Fair, and clancethemance. Earlier this year Hanzo dropped his first solo EP, simply titled Vol. 1, which showcases a chilled-out, airy production and strong hooksmore...
Hanzo comes out of the rising and revolutionary THOUGHTCRIME collective, which also harbors like-minded underground hip-hop artists Shrimp, Fair, and clancethemance. Earlier this year Hanzo dropped his first solo EP, simply titled Vol. 1, which showcases a chilled-out, airy production and strong hooks that guide stand-out numbers such as Fortnite and Frozen. Most importantly, though, Hanzo has left himself enough space to branch out into whatever direction he chooses, and with a first offering that's turning heads right out of the gate, Hanzo holds the keys to open many doors. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Unsung DJ BOA Award Winner

Tocayo

2018 Critics Pick: Best Used record Store BOA Award Winner

Ella Guru
Ask anyone who's made the drive into the wilds of Decatur's Leafmore/Oak Grove/Sagamore Hills neighborhood to check out Ella Guru, and the response is akin to a wild-eyed Dennis Hopper circa Apocalypse Now. Tales of mind-blowing records lining the store's bins and walls are true. It's all used vinyl,more...
Ask anyone who's made the drive into the wilds of Decatur's Leafmore/Oak Grove/Sagamore Hills neighborhood to check out Ella Guru, and the response is akin to a wild-eyed Dennis Hopper circa Apocalypse Now. Tales of mind-blowing records lining the store's bins and walls are true. It's all used vinyl, and owner Don Radcliffe and the tight crew he keeps know the value of a well-curated selection. Be it classic or obscure rock nuggets, country gold, hip-hop 12-inches, serious avant-garde scores, or deep cuts from Marion Brown, John Coltrane, or Sun Ra's catalogs, the dedication to quality over quantity is Ella Guru's strong suit. The prices are right, but bring a stacked wallet. You can't leave empty-handed. less...

2018 Critics Pick: Best Variety Show BOA Award Winner

Celestesia / Loner

2018 Critics Pick: Best Weekly Club Night BOA Award Winner

Over the last two years Ree De La Vega has watched Chaka Khan Hacienda at 8ARM grow from a Sunday afternoon Day Party for service industry folks into an arts and philanthropic institution. The party started when De La Vega assembled a crew of DJ cohorts including Florista, Vikki Powell, Jeremy Avalon,more...
Over the last two years Ree De La Vega has watched Chaka Khan Hacienda at 8ARM grow from a Sunday afternoon Day Party for service industry folks into an arts and philanthropic institution. The party started when De La Vega assembled a crew of DJ cohorts including Florista, Vikki Powell, Jeremy Avalon, Kieren Neely, and more to spin disco and house music. Collaborations with Dashboard Arts have yielded pool parties that people will talk about for years, and working with crafty entrepreneurs such as Flora Aura Portraits, who shoot multi-hued aura photography, and Hell Yeah Gluten Free, creates a cosmic-metropolitan atmosphere. The secret to rising above typical adult day party fare lies in these playfully sophisticated collaborations. Chaka Khan Hacienda also regularly doubles as a fundraiser, donating funds to organizations such as Girls Rock Camp and the Dream Warriors Foundation. less...

2018 Readers Pick: Best After Hours Spot BOA Award Winner

Clermont Lounge

2018 Readers Pick: Best Comedy Club/Venue BOA Award Winner

Dad?s Garage

2018 Readers Pick: Best Concert of Year (so far) BOA Award Winner

Imagine Dragons

2018 Readers Pick: Best Concert Venue BOA Award Winner

The Masquerade

2018 Readers Pick: Best Cover Band BOA Award Winner

Cowboy Kid Rock

2018 Readers Pick: Best Dance Music Club BOA Award Winner

MJQ Concourse

2018 Readers Pick: Best Dive Bar BOA Award Winner

Clermont Lounge

2018 Readers Pick: Best Hip-Hop Hangout BOA Award Winner

Magic City

2018 Readers Pick: Best Latin Club BOA Award Winner

Havana

2018 Readers Pick: Best Live Band/Act BOA Award Winner

Hunter Flanagan
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