Best Single, Tunnel Vision, Ari
Toronto-born, LA-based ARI finds healing and her unapologetic voice in music. Her education is in psychology but her art is music that deftly dances in and out of genre lines, moving from alternative pop to gritty hip-hop production and electronica, but at its core it’s pop. At the same time, the visceral lyrics transmit messages of hope as often as they ponder tragedy. “There’s dark and light inside all of us,” she says. “Every opposite is a complement. ..You accept yourself amidst those demons.” She has many demons, even today after years of working through them. Her album Tunnel Vision exorcises some of those demons and introduces us to others, but always with addictive, interesting and unforgettable music. Together they make for one of the most interesting artists in the current music scene.
Best EP, World on Fire: The Rigs
The Rigs are TJ Stafford and Caitlin Parrott, who began collaborating in 2014. Both prolific songwriters on their own, their unique synth-pop meets gritty alternative rock sound immediately began gaining attention in LA and eventually, nationwide. Their tracks have been featured on major television shows like HBO’s True Blood, AMC’s The Walking Dead, NBC’s Parenthood, FreeForms Pretty Little Liars and many more. The mix of emotive vocals, harrowing melodies and unexpected instrumentation create music that has captivated audiences and critics alike, including me because they break rules, upend convention and makes people feel good. Pretty much studio hounds, they don’t play live much, except occasionally at the Troubadour, but they may change as the tour for the new EP.
LA Music Critic Uniqueness Award, We Are the West
Whether it is playing in a parking garage – which they do in Santa Monica every month, or asking people to call each other on their cellphones with the speakerphone on so they can make music with the feedback, WATW is one of the most unusual and unique bands I know.