It has been another fantastic year of musical discovery here at Artistic Echoes, covering Artists from all over the globe. With so many interviews, podcasts, reviews and mixtapes it is a struggle to narrow it down to just a few favourite artists of the year. So we have decided to do things a little differently each of our regular writers will be giving out there own special awards and to kick things of we have Patrick O’Heffernan host of Music Friday Live! and co-host of Musica Fusion LA with his picks.
Song of the Year. Reckless, Eric Zayne
Everything Eric does is the very definition of unique – “distinct, individual, lone, solitary, sui generis”. Eric absorbs the many cultures and musics he has encountered and reshapes them into songs and lyrics that go in their own direction. The music he creates is addictive, visceral, ingenious, his beats flow from Britpop, alt rock, blues, African, punk and funk. Every word in his song counts; they are life set to music.
Reckless does all of those things live, streamed or video. Reckless is the story of a musician trying to find his way through the distractions of Los Angles: Hollywood Hills/spills and thrills/the church will never save me….I always leave trails for the devil come find me. No matter how much experience you have, no matter how disciplined you are, no matter how determined you are, LA is a garden of delights that detours you at every turn. I dance with all these monsters/Lord I need a savior/Don’t you tell my father nothing/Papa don’t need to know.
Eric is now in residence at The Castle in Hollywood and keeps pumping out great songs.
Best Rock Band. Los Hollywood
I love the way this band effortless blends Spanish and English into solid rock and roll music that crosses boundaries and makes people dance. I have seen them live many times and each time the audience went nuts. Bass player and band leader Heidi Flores and “the boys” know how to lay down and old fashioned 4/4 rock beat, or mix it up with polyrhythms, or hit you in the gut with guitar solos. Excitement is what they do.
Best Alt Rock Band: 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.
Best Live Performance Band. William Close and the Earth Harp Collective
LA audiences got their first look at the Malibu-based Earth Harp Collective last year at Grant Park and then again this summer at Grand Performances, both in DTLA. They traveled all over the world.William Close is an installation artist and musician who has developed over 100 new types of musical instruments including the Earth Harp, the world’s largest playable musical instrument . He combines the creative forces of artists, musicians, composers and choreographers and featuring the multi-story Earthharp and other unique instruments include such the Drum Orb, The Percussion Jacket, The Aquatar, the Wing Harp. The Earth Harp Collective has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Lincoln Center in New York, to the Coliseum in Rome, The Grand Theater in Macau and Hong Kong just to name a few. When it comes to live performances, this is out of the box, but there is nothing even close.
Best Pop Female Artist. 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 Album, Female. Tunnel Vision, ARI
Best Rock Female Artist. Doña Oxford
Doña Oxford has been a fixture on the LA, London and European R&B, blues and rock scenes for over a decade, usually backing other headliners. She has been called compared to “Gladys Knight meets the Rolling Stones”. As a keyboardist, Doña has played with many Rock legends including Keith Richards in his London studio, Van Morrison, Roger Daltry, Albert Lee, Buddy Guy, Bob Weir, Levon Helm and her idol, the former Chuck Berry sideman and Father of Rock & Roll Piano, Johnnie Johnson! She and has toured 22 countries and 48 States, mostly backing Albert Lee and other headliners, but now she and her band are headlining and have just returned from a tour of Europe. She and her band have released 4 albums, she has played on numerous Grammy and Handy winning albums and movie scores including the Eddie Murphy box office hit “Norbit”. Not your typical rock band…but so much fun.
Best Metal Artist/Band. Militia Vox.
Militia Vox is a world unto herself. Opera-trained with a 4 octave range, she founded the tribute band Judas Priestess and launched a career that included heavy metal, television, producing, and acting. A New York resident, she is inching toward LA, after appearing here at the Roxy and the Viper Room this year. She has recorded, toured and shared the stage with Cyndi Lauper, Twisted Sister, Living Colour, Taylor Dayne, and Nancy Sinatra and many more. Former Host/VJ from MTV2, VH1 and Fuse, Militia has been a key influencer of the Afropunk movement, and officially stepped forward as a solo indie recording artist in 2013. Militia calls her music “Femme Metale” – in praise of wicked women. Her albums “BAIT” and “ISOSCELES” were independently released to international critical acclaim. Militia’s mantra is “Disgrace Your Stereotype” and she does it well.
Best Album Male. Beam of Light, The Simpkin Project
The Simpkin Project is a Southern California band that plays a multi-faceted blend of reggae, blues, rock, and Americana, steeped in soulful harmonies in a sound has been described as “uncompromising… blending authentic roots reggae rhythms with a wall-of-sound production style.” Phil Simpkin and Shawn Taylor, co-lead vocalists, have been with the band since its inception, indulging their love of reggae and their skill in mixing it blues, rock and the roots of American music. The result is joyful, danceable and a whole lot of fun.
To stream or download: https://Simpkin.lnk.
Check back tomorrow for the second part of our awards from Patrick O’Heffernan host of Music Friday Live! and Co-host of Musica Fusion LA