Best Of Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Thing to Happen to New York City This Year

    White Flags on the Brooklyn Bridge

    On the breezy morning of July 22, 2014, there was something a little odd about the American flags that fly from the twin towers of the Brooklyn Bridge: They were gone, replaced with bleached-out white ones. The incident whipped police and politicians into a frenzy. Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams...

  • Best Escape in New York

    Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

    OK, a train ride to Yonkers seems a little daunting, but one sip of the "Maker's Mark Milk Punch Shake" at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will melt away any of your misgivings. It's high time this theater chain made its way to the New York area — the original Austin...

  • Best Mile of NYC

    Astor Place to Canal Street

    As Manhattan continues its transformation into a high-end, city-themed shopping mall, we take our joy where we can find — and afford — it. An awful lot of our favorite things are crammed into the square mile between Astor Place and Canal Street: Chinatown, for one, which stubbornly resists gentrification...

  • Best Superhero

    Ms. Marvel

    The biggest surprise about scrawny high schooler Kamala Khan's transformation into the latest incarnation of the long-running superhero Ms. Marvel was not that Khan is an American Muslim. Nor that she's the first Muslim character to headline a monthly Marvel comic book. Nor that, being a geek for superheroes herself,...

  • Best Cheap Thrill

    AIA Guide to New York City

    It's the last day of the month, and you're king (or queen) of the world! You can do anything, buy anything! Then it's the first, and your bank account is down to $28.93, because you live in New York and you just paid the rent. Don't despair: You have just...

  • Best Place for a First Date

    Sycamore Flower Shop and Bar

    If you're looking to lock in that second date, take bae to the Sycamore Flower Shop and Bar for the first. What makes this place so special? Well, it's an all-inclusive date experience. Your afternoon drinks can include a bouquet of flowers for the lucky cutie you've escorted here. Weekend...

  • Best Place for a Last Date

    The Campbell Apartment

    The Campbell Apartment might sound like the setting for an illicit tryst, but the gorgeous Jazz Age bar located inside Grand Central Station was once the office of millionaire financier John W. Campbell, and as such it is best suited to business — such as the business of breaking off...

  • Best Place to Meet Men

    Rough Trade

    Brooklyn's newest record store and venue strikes us as an awfully good place to meet babes of all genders. It couldn't be easier: Strike up a conversation while flipping through the stacks, or between bands, or maybe while you're hanging out in the slightly odd Guardian Green Room. But Rough...

  • Best Place to Meet Women

    The Strand Book Store

    Forget Tinder. Part of being a man is developing the courage necessary to walk up to a beautiful woman you've never met and initiate a conversation. A woman can learn a lot about a man by the way he goes about this business. She will engage or reject, and all...

  • Best Place to People-Watch

    Iggy's Keltic Lounge

    One of the Lower East Side's most redoubtable old dives, holding the line against an encroaching tide of bros with popped collars, Iggy's Keltic Lounge is, blessedly, not a "scene." It's just a bar, a really good one, dimly lit, rowdy and a little grotty, featuring a few creaky arcade...

  • Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests

    Big Onion Walking Tours

    So. You're stuck playing tour guide for a few hours? Have no fear: Big Onion Walking Tours won't merely kill time and impress your guests. Even the most jaded New Yorker will pick up a fact or two during a comprehensive and fascinating two-hour walkabout. Tours run on a shifting...

  • Best Underground History Lesson

    MTA tour of the old City Hall subway station

    It's all about the arches. When it opened in 1904, the City Hall train stop stood as the elegant centerpiece of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company's Manhattan Main Line. Arch-happy architect Rafael Guastavino whipped up a graceful beauty: The train platform runs beneath a curving ceiling striated by great ribs...

  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Atlantic City

    Atlantic City can be anything you want it to be. With its strip of casinos alongside sandy beaches that are walking distance from the Tanger Outlets, AC is the perfect place for families, couples, or groups of friends looking for a few days of shenanigans. Fewer frills and thrills than,...

  • Best Casino

    Resorts World Casino

    It's late. You're about to hop on the L and go home, but you see the red shuttle bus that provides free trips to the Resorts World Casino in Jamaica, Queens. The Red Express is empty. What are you waiting for? Get on that bus! You're not that tired! Resorts...

  • Best Zoo Animal

    Snow Leopard Cubs

    We would never tell you that one animal is "better" than another, because ranking God's creatures like that is wrong. That said, the baby snow leopards that made their public debut at the Bronx Zoo this past August are clearly the best zoo animal. The two male cubs were born...

  • Best Chronicle of New York's Ever-Changing Face

    Jeremiah's Vanishing New York

    New York is changing at light-speed, with glassy condos and fro-yo shops mushrooming out of every corner. Sometimes it's hard to even take stock of all the changes; it can take weeks or months before you notice that your favorite old sign for a '30s jazz club has disappeared, or...

  • Best Local Instagram

    Bodega Cats of Instagram

    All of New York loves a bodega cat: sitting contemplatively atop a stack of dusty soup cans, napping in the newspaper bin, draped over the cash register like a tiger-striped scarf. So we're supremely grateful to the anonymously run Bodega Cats of Instagram for highlighting the finest in Instagram photos...

  • Best Local Website

    EV Grieve

    Since its first post, on December 21, 2007, EV Grieve has been breaking news about the East Village and providing a forum for brutally honest commentary from its current and former denizens. In a neighborhood that continues to shed the dive bars, flophouses, and bakeries that used to define it,...

  • Best Twitterer

    Michael Hale

    Michael Hale goes by the handle @dogboner on Twitter. To find the most famous of his 47,000 tweets, you'll have to scroll down the timeline to July 2014, when Hale posted a photo captioned, "Some guy using his laptop on the train like a Dumbass nerd lol." Wearing a silky,...

  • Best Hair on a Local TV Personality (Female)

    Liz Cho

    Don't mess with the tresses — this anchorwoman has been upping New York's hair game for over a decade. WABC-TV's Liz Cho seems to subscribe to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Sarah Michelle Gellar school of coiffiture: Never have the same style, length, or Clairol shade number for more than three...

  • Best Hair on a Local TV Personality (Male)

    Sandy Kenyon

    Maybe there's some distortion, due to the layers of plastic over the taxicab TV screen. Or maybe it's because we're usually lit up when we're splurging on a cab. Or maybe it's just that taxi-television (and WABC) entertainment reporter and movie critic Sandy Kenyon sports a 'do that is as...

  • Best TV News Anchor

    Pat Kiernan

    It's Pat Kiernan. Always and forever. Seventeen years at NY1 and our love for this Calgary-born beefcake is as ardent as ever. It's safe to say that 17 years from now, long after his sandy hair has turned silver, his crinkly eyes and Canadian wit will still be making us...

  • Best AM Radio Personality

    Geraldo Rivera

    Geraldo Rivera is his own worst enemy. The images of him having his nose broken by a flying chair thrown by a skinhead on his long-gone-but-forever-cheesy daytime talk show or leading us on a wild goose chase into Al Capone's empty vault are indelibly imprinted on our brains. His dippy...

  • Best FM Radio Personality

    Angie Martinez

    Throughout the course of any given day in New York, you could hear a thousand voices, easy. By consensus, though, there is only one "Voice of New York": It is honey-toned, just the slightest bit husky, and it belongs to Angie Martinez. If you've listened to hip-hop radio anytime in...

  • Best Radio Station

    Heritage Radio Network

    If you've been to Roberta's in Bushwick anytime during the past five years, you've probably walked past the Heritage Radio Network studio on your way to the tiki bar — and you may have even, while seated in the adjacent dining room, watched one of its interviews (with the likes...

  • Best Radio Station to Die in the Past Year

    East Village Radio

    The news came as a shock to the DJs — they thought East Village Radio was doing well — but in May, the online-only station that occupied a storefront on First Avenue went silent. The end came suddenly for all of us — the announcement came just 10 days in...

  • Best Book by a Local Author

    Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

    In 2008, former Entertainment Weekly executive editor Mark Harris made his literary debut with the absorbing bestseller Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, which traced the trajectory of 1968's diverse, paradigm-shifting "Best Picture" field (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Doctor Dolittle, Guess Who's...

  • Best Fictional Work About New York

    10:04

    In 10:04, Ben Lerner bends genre and bends our perception of New York — or rather, you might read the novel and think, "Yes! That's exactly what I meant, but couldn't find the words." After all, how many times have we been rendered speechless by the views of downtown Manhattan...

  • Best Nonfiction Work About New York

    Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York

    Going into Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, you might assume it's going to be an unremittingly bitter collection of essays. But what it is is powerful: After a few essays you're probably going to shudder a bit with nostalgia for your green years in...

  • Best Local Poet

    Dorothea Lasky

    On dorothealasky.com, Dorothea Lasky's Technicolor Tumblr, a Nicki Minaj video huddles comfortably beside a collage by John Ashbery, next to Lasky's own erasure poem made from the fragments of a conversation about NSA spying. It's a visual rendering of the sensibility that informs work by the assistant professor of poetry...

  • Best Public Library

    Central Library

    When you consider that we live in one of the world's greatest cities, it's troubling that New York's libraries can be so strikingly inconsistent. Sure, the famed Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street is a lovely place to visit, but the reading rooms double as a tourist attraction. Other...

  • Best Reading Room

    Poets House

    Poets House is ruled by such a consistent, monastic silence that it almost feels like quiet is being piped through the air ducts. Other than the occasional muffled footsteps and industrious tapping of computer keys, there's nothing to distract visitors from the library's extensive chapbook collection, the selection of slim...

  • Best Museum

    Museum of the City of New York

    Nestled on a quiet(er) stretch of Fifth Avenue, where Museum Mile tapers off into East Harlem, the Museum of the City of New York is a tiny institution that of late has housed some very big ideas. MCNY's photo exhibition on Sandy and its aftermath was sensitively done, intelligently paced,...

  • Best Art Gallery

    Postmasters Gallery

    So you've just left the Whitney's Jeff Koons survey and can't say for sure whether you just visited a museum or FAO Schwarz. Quick, before your frontal lobe gilds over, hie to Postmasters Gallery, Gotham's premier venue for art with brains. Located in the shadow of Chinatown and Federal Plaza,...

  • Best Art Installation

    The Dream House

    Those seeking the sacred in art need look no further than composer La Monte Young and artist Marian Zazeela's Dream House. Since 1993, the pair's collaborative sound-and-light environment has dazzled both the expert and the merely curious, immersing visitors in Young's droning tones and the luminous glow of Zazeela's sculptures...

  • Best Art Walk

    Elastic City Walks

    Sign up for an Elastic City Walk and you may be asked, in the words of founder Todd Shalom, to "collectively sing the shape of the skyline, construct visual poems from objects we find on the street, and make monuments with our bodies in response to the monuments we find...

  • Best Artist

    Mark di Suvero

    Born in Shanghai of Italian parents, 81-year-young Mark di Suvero embodies the steely resolve and expansive humanity that characterizes the best Big Apple success stories. After studying philosophy and art at Berkeley, di Suvero came to New York to make sculpture. In his late twenties, he suffered severe spinal injuries...

  • Best Arts Organization

    A Blade of Grass

    A two-year-old arts organization that provides funding exclusively to artists who "demonstrate artistic excellence and serve as innovative conduits for social change," A Blade of Grass is poised to become one of the most important such outfits in the nation. What these folks are about is simple. In layman's shorthand,...

  • Best Art Collective

    G.U.L.F.

    Enter G.U.L.F., or Global Ultra Luxury Faction. An umbrella activist group made up of the organizations Gulf Labor and Occupy Museums, plus a few savvy New York University students, this collective of advocates and hacktivists has orchestrated successful guerrilla protests aimed at the feckless institution that is the global Guggenheim...

  • Best Big Screen

    Sumner M. Redstone Theater

    Set aside the billionaire-gone-mad stuff: The succession battles, the fallings-out with superstars, that tabloid tale about his literally-less-than-half-his-age wife polygraphing the help after her laptop went missing. Here's a case where Viacom/CBS/Paramount/National Amusement honcho Sumner Redstone's name is attached to something great: The blue-felt polyhedral womb of the Museum of...

  • Best Film Festival

    BAMcinemaFest

    Over the course of its six years of life, BAMcinemaFest has slowly but surely become what might now be the leading showcase for the best in contemporary American independent cinema. How do they do it? It's the curatorial approach: The programmers eschew the lure of worldwide premieres, instead culling the...

  • Best Independent Movie Theater

    Film Forum

    Now that we can all sit at home and stream plenty of smaller, independent features and documentaries in the comfort of our own living rooms, why go out to the movies ever again? Maybe because seeing a terrific movie with other human beings is still one of the great pleasures...

  • Best Multiplex

    Angelika Film Center

    Let's be real: Multiplex movie theaters are one of the few things that are better elsewhere than they are in New York. Here, they can be sticky, crowded, appallingly overpriced, and have bathrooms whose grossness rivals that of the Port Authority. Except for the Angelika Film Center, which besides being...

  • Best Rep House

    Anthology Film Archives

    Anthology Film Archives would be an important institution solely on the basis of its rich experimental history and its efforts in film preservation and restoration. That it continues to screen surprising and under-seen selections from the history of cinema is a great boon for the city. Among Anthology's most vital...

  • Best Play Set in NYC

    Act One

    Given how many playwrights live in New York, it's no surprise that so many dramas take place here. The city's diversity and extremes, its grandeur and deprivations, make a great muse. One show this year paid a special tribute to Gotham and its strivers. James Lapine's moving Lincoln Center Theater...

  • Best Theater Festival

    January

    January. No, that's not the name of an obscure new venue's performance series. That's January — the entire frenzied, freezing month, when New York turns into a citywide extravaganza of performance premieres and special presentations. An international convention of producers meets in midtown, so every theater, dance, and performance artist...

  • Best Place to See a Classical Play

    Brooklyn Academy of Music

    Straightforward versions of the dramatic repertory are easy to come by in this town. Tights and tunics? Check. Modern-dress versions of the same soliloquies and swordplay? No problem. But there aren't so many places where you can see the classics actually reconceived and reimagined. For large-scale, daring interpretations of great...

  • Best Spot to Discover Mind-Altering New Performance Art

    Abrons Arts Center

    You never know exactly what will be waiting at the other end when you make the long trek eastward from the subways to Abrons Arts Center. Last season included a charged, explicit version of Beauty and the Beast with disabled performer Mat Fraser and his beauty-queen wife, Julie Atlas Muz,...

  • Best Theater for New American Plays

    Soho Rep

    Yes, the stage is a tiny shoebox, the lobby is claustrophobic, and it's actually in Tribeca. But under Sarah Benson's artistic direction, Soho Rep's three-play season has been reliably adventurous. Nearly every show this company has developed in recent seasons has been a much-talked-about event — and that's in a...

  • Best Venue for International Theater Presentations

    St. Ann's Warehouse

    Maybe it's the Brooklyn waterfront location that makes St. Ann's Warehouse feel like the worldliest of New York's performance spaces. Certainly this capacious, inviting hall has become a first port of call for innovative companies, a harbor for the Polish and Russian avant-garde (TR Warszawa and Dmitry Krymov) as well...

  • Best Comedy Open Mic

    Coffey/Bez

    Ashley Bez and Christy Coffey run the Coffey/Bez open mic every Thursday at Revision Lounge in the East Village, and it's the best experimental shit-show in town. Each performer gets a tight time window to tell his or her jokes, which is great, because if they suck, they'll be offstage...

  • Best New Comedy Club

    The Stand

    On no less than seven nights a week (that's the most number of nights in a week) you'll find NYC's top comedians doling out big belly-laughs and opening up tear ducts in a tiny, 80-capacity room in Gramercy at The Stand. There they book solid bills of experienced comics, but...

  • Best Music Blog

    Brooklyn Vegan

    If you're growing weary with what to consume within the vast and rapidly expanding world of music, Brooklyn Vegan provides the perfect streamlined resource for what's occurring in your neck of the woods. Always up to date with just-opening or just-closing venues, albums and tours from local artists, and the...

  • Best Music Festival

    Governors Ball

    The rain really put a damper on 2013's festivities, but this year's Governors Ball was a flood of fun beneath clear skies complemented by bearable heat and glorious sets. Over three mud-free days, New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike experienced many of the big names about to make the festival rounds...

  • Best Local Single of the Past 12 Months

    One Rock for the Wild Dog

    Yellow Eyes are one of the best new metal bands in NYC, and their latest EP for Dead Section Records offers a tantalizing glimpse into what the future may hold for this atmospheric and experimental black-metal outfit. The record's strongest track, "One Rock for the Wild Dog," sidles in on...

  • Best Local Album of the Past 12 Months

    Manhattan

    Though, yes, the title's perfect for this distinction, Skaters' Manhattan is such a strong debut that it's difficult to imagine the band creating any songs beyond this first barrage of beautiful noise. "Miss Teen Massachusetts" is so unavoidably addictive, so painlessly catchy, that the chorus has wailed its way to...

  • Best Concert of the Past 12 Months

    Romeo Santos

    If you're going to stage a homecoming concert in New York City, you might as well sell out two nights at Yankee Stadium, right? Bronx-born Romeo Santos did exactly that this year, becoming the first Latin artist since the Fania All-Stars in 1973 to headline the venue. Aside from his...

  • Best Concert Poster Designer

    Dilek Baykara

    At a glance, the work of School of Visual Arts graduate Dilek Baykara is stunning, but look a little closer and be prepared to be completely floored by the intricate detail populating her hand-inked illustrations of branches, cherubs, and wicked women. Her perennial themes of darkness and mystical femininity bleed...

  • Best Live Music Venue

    Santos Party House

    Part of what makes Santos Party House the Best has little to do with the customers who flock through its doors. It's the bands. The place is run by musicians (among them, full disclosure, our own advice columnist Andrew W.K.) and folks who have otherwise performed in some capacity or...

  • Best Live Music Venue to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Lulu's

    The eulogies for some music venues come in at thousands of words, as sentimental rock critics prattle on and on and on about the influence borne by some space that was only ever around for a year or two. Lulu's, which opened in 2005, offered a chance for new bands...

  • Best All-Ages Club

    Silent Barn

    DIY venues haven't had an easy year, but luckily we still have Silent Barn. While 285 Kent and Death By Audio have seen the end of their eras, Silent Barn has found solace in its new Bushwick home after the terrible end to its time in Ridgewood. The existence of...

  • Best Bar With Live Music

    Spike Hill

    Right off the Bedford L stop, Spike Hill is an easy-to-miss but truly unforgettable pub, perfect for a session of cheap drinking and great music every night of the week. Spike Hill has two entrances: one leading to a collection of dark booths where patrons can order typical bar fare...

  • Best Rock Club

    Saint Vitus Bar

    The New York City hard rock and metal scene would be a desolate expanse of predictable venues and bars if it weren't for Saint Vitus. Located in the most unassuming spot in the northwesternmost corner of Greenpoint, Vitus is detached from everything else in the surrounding area in both style...

  • Best Dance Club

    No Malice Palace

    Don't let the antique furniture and grandma's-house ambiance fool you. No Malice Palace is extraordinarily up to date on the hottest hip-hop hits to churn out in the middle of the night. On the weekends, the line outside rivals that of the big-hitter midtown dance clubs that typically come with...

  • Best Blues Club

    55 Bar

    A holdover from Prohibition, this cozy Greenwich Village hideaway strung up with twinkle lights has been trafficking in improv jazz and blistering blues riffs since 1919. Not much has changed in the intervening years: The drinks at 55 Bar are still cheap, the bar is still cash-only, there is no...

  • Best Rock Bar

    The Acheron

    Ever since it opened in 2010, The Acheron has stood as a pillar of New York's metal/punk community, and its influence only continues to grow. With its flyer-plastered walls and tattooed clientele it may be a DIY spot at heart, but the Acheron tempers its rough-and-tumble metal/punk roots with a...

  • Best Dance Party

    Jessie's Girl

    For a taste of the '80s and a dance party sure to dazzle your bright-colored Spandex off, check out "Back to the Eighties" on Saturday nights at Le Poisson Rouge. Seven-piece band Jessie's Girl take the stake equipped with a synthesizer, sparkly makeup, mulleted guitarists, and three costume-changing singers, covering...

  • Best Piano Bar

    Manhattan Inn

    Despite its name, the Manhattan Inn is the piano bar for the Brooklyn set, and it manages to update a classic concept. With a rotating cast of accomplished musicians taking requests, and an impressive lineup of innovative cocktails, the five-year-old Greenpoint bar and restaurant is a classy spot for the...

  • Best Karaoke

    Sing Sing Karaoke

    Recently immortalized in veteran Rolling Stone pop-culture critic Rob Sheffield's latest book, Turn Around Bright Eyes, Alphabet City spot Sing Sing Karaoke is well on its way to becoming a legendary place to practice the art of late-night drunk-singing. Between the open karaoke bar at the front, where shining in...

  • Best Open Mic

    Open Stage

    Sometimes you've just got to go with the classics. Sidewalk Cafe's Monday-night Open Stage is the biggest, best-known, and possibly longest-running open mic in the city. It is open to everyone — musicians, poets, comedians, magicians, er, speed-knitters — who possesses the talent (or self-delusion) to sign up at 7:30...

  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    La Marina

    Bottle service, snobby doormen, and starfuckery in the meatpacking district are so over. For the real spot to see and be seen, head way uptown to La Marina. Nestled below the Cloisters on Dyckman Street, the restaurant-cum-lounge is an island idyll in Manhattan's upper reaches. Sip mojitos and nosh on...

  • Best Club DJ

    DJ Jonathan Toubin

    With most DJs doing their best Steve Aoki impressions in the club, DJ Jonathan Toubin's "New York Night Train" has felt more refreshing than ever. At his Home Sweet Home residency (beginning at 10:30 p.m. every Friday), Toubin and a slew of special guests spin 45s of the best and...

  • Best DJ

    Gina Turner

    If you're looking for a "what" to turn down for, make sure it's Gina Turner's yoga sessions, because she is the only person who could get you truly turnt-up again. Though the native New Yorker knows how to stay Zen, she is first and foremost a fiercely wonderful DJ serving...

  • Best Bar Playlist

    Ace Bar

    When the pinball machines and vintage lunchboxes aren't distracting you, Ace Bar has a pretty mean number of tunes coming out of its speakers. Whether from the jukebox or otherwise, Ace offers a weird, diverse selection of artists you can hear in the middle of the night (or earlier, if...

  • Best Jukebox

    Analogue

    Full disclosure: Analogue does not actually have a jukebox. It has something significantly more awesome, in the form of a vintage Thorens turntable running through a Citation solid-state tube amp, which, in turn, drives a pair of bomb-ass speakers (Bozak Symphonies, if you're keeping score). It also has an owner:...

  • Best Jazz Club

    Village Vanguard

    Of New York's great jazz rooms, the Village Vanguard has the edge in terms of historical pedigree, sound, unique physical space, and ever-broadening booking policy, representing jazz across many generations and aesthetic viewpoints. The calendar is something: radical offerings from Henry Threadgill and John Zorn alongside great and underrated pianists...

  • Best Jazz Bargain

    The Blue Note

    Got $20? Then with a little savvy you can hear — and glimpse — the greats doing their thing. A seat at a table at The Blue Note runs, for most weeknight shows, $35. But a seat at the bar at the club's entrance, off to the right of the...

  • Best Jazz Artist

    Medeski Martin & Wood

    Medeski Martin & Wood remain one of the most accessible, vital, and goose-bump-producing jazz ensembles on the scene today, for more reasons than could possibly fit in a blurb. Although they've (unfortunately, and unfairly) become associated with the much-maligned jam-band scene, the Brooklyn-spawned trio (John Medeski, Billy Martin, and John...

  • Best Bassist

    Greg Cohen

    Greg Cohen has been a fixture in the jazz world for decades, and you've almost certainly heard him in collaboration with the likes of Tom Waits and David Byrne. His best work, though, might be in his longtime partnership with saxophonist and composer John Zorn: Cohen's basslines provide the thrust...

  • Best Drummer

    Kenny Wollesen

    It's probably easier to name the jazz and rock greats Kenny Wollesen hasn't played with. There's gotta be a few. But his credits range from jazz legends like Bill Frisell to pop stars like Norah Jones and a huge chunk of the avant-garde in the middle — suffice it to...

  • Best Guitarist

    Marnie Stern

    Marnie Stern doesn't take home this honor every year. (That would make us look lazy.) But she could. Dammit, she could. She certainly could've taken the prize in 2013, following the splendid guitar-shred clinic The Chronicles of Marnia, which put the blazing glory of her finger-tap style on full display...

  • Best Songwriter

    Zachary Cale

    Mop-headed Zachary Cale grew up all over the planet, but when he croons, it's only a light dusting of Cajun spices from time in Louisiana that bleeds through. He sports a few acrylic nails to keep his fingerpicking as light as golden dragonfly wings, but his tongue flicks silver and...

  • Best Bluegrass Band

    Dubl Handi

    With a minimalist lineup — often just banjo and percussion — Brooklyn-based Dubl Handi (pronounced double handy) reduces bluegrass and traditional music to the essentials: subtle harmonies and complex, rhythmic string work. Lead singer Hilary Hawke's remarkable voice, deep and with just the right amount of grit, lends the ensemble...

  • Best Blues Artist

    Blind Boy Paxton

    For the best old-time and storytelling blues New York has to offer, look no further than Blind Boy Paxton. A transplant from L.A., Jerron Paxton is a visually impaired, Jewish, African American multi-instrumentalist — banjo, fiddle, and piano break up the guitar strumming — who brings out the playful side...

  • Best Country Artist

    Robert Ellis

    Before he sings a note, Robert Ellis has you hooked. A native Texan who looks every bit the guitar-strumming country-music heartthrob he is, Ellis set country-purist hearts ablaze in 2011 with his debut release, Photographs, which was a deep and knowing nod to the genre's storytelling greats, like George Jones...

  • Best Folk Artist

    Feral Foster

    Deep in grungy, urban Queens (Ridgewood, to be exact) lives and plays New York's greatest folk artist today: Feral Foster. A native New Yorker who cut his chops the old-fashioned way, Foster began his career playing at Washington Square Park like the masters Dylan and Van Ronk before him, amassing...

  • Best Garage Band

    Heliotropes

    A dark psychedelic haze sits solidly on Heliotropes' rollicking guitar riffs and beefcake basslines. Their heady tunes play like a subversive siren song, beckoning to stoned sailors. The thing is, when anyone crashes into Heliotropes' audio jetty of jagged rocks stained with motorboat oil, they can only emerge bruised —...

  • Best Jam Band

    TAUK

    TAUK is a dirty, funky foursome whose just-released album Collisions is like a long-form math equation we don't quite understand all the time — but when we do, it makes us feel smarter for having figured it out. "We took the things we liked from the last record and expanded...

  • Best New Band

    Iron Force

    Iron Force only came together about a year ago, but its four members are stuck in the '80s in a big way — from their squealing solos and scraggly long hair down to guitarist Curt Johnston's "Thrash 'til Death" tattoo. Their ballsy, razor-edged speedmetal swirl harkens back to the glory...

  • Best Noise Band

    Pharmakon

    NYC noise artist Margaret Chardiet, better known to her growing legions of fans as Pharmakon, is having a moment. Pharmakon is by no means accessible music, but for some reason has struck a serious chord with both noise-lovers and the uninitiated. The project's physical take on noise, power electronics, and...

  • Best Metal Band

    Pyrrhon

    Pyrrhon aren't merely a great NYC metal band. Their sophomore LP, The Mother of Virtues, is one of the most innovative metal records of the year, from any city. The compositions are unpredictable and highly technical. Songs that first erupt with volcanic fury flow into creeping, molten passages with guitar...

  • Best Pop Band

    Parlour Tricks

    The lovely three-part harmonies of Parlour Tricks are so big and bold and powerful they could knock down buildings. Thankfully the sextet has decided to instead use its powers for good, and on songs like the slinky, sexy "Lovesongs" and swagtastic "Requiem" you'll find them in spades: punchy, infectious, danceable...

  • Best Punk Band

    Ajax

    Hardcore punk band Ajax (pronounced like the cleaning product, not the soccer team in Amsterdam) released their demo in December 2013. So in punk years, the band is entering its gilded period right about...now. Led by guttural vocals that separate the band from its contemporaries, Ajax play a style that...

  • Best R&B Artist

    Charles Bradley

    If you ever want to cry a gush of happy tears, we suggest you make your way to the documentary Soul of America, about New York City soul singer Charles Bradley. In it, you'll discover the man's hardscrabble life — from homeless teen to drifter adult seeking work — which...

  • Best Rapper

    Ka

    Last summer, Ka spent a Saturday standing outside the doorway to 406 6th Avenue selling vinyl and CD copies of his album The Night's Gambit. The building's façade might have seemed inauspicious to passersby, with tattered printouts advertising some sort of massage service through the doorway and up the stairs,...

  • Best Hip-Hop DJ/Producer

    Harry Fraud

    Harry Fraud is a young producer with an old soul. In a milieu of flavor-of-the-week contemporaries who crank out hot beats for anyone who'll take them, the Brooklyn native has a slow and selective approach and only works — usually in-person — with artists he likes. He has been instrumental...

  • Best Rock Band

    Low Fat Getting High

    "Rock band" is a giant umbrella, encapsulating everything from Oasis to Mötley Crüe. But Brooklyn's Low Fat Getting High brings no uncertainty when it comes to defining a harsh, noisy, and breakneck incarnation of rock. We're left with no other descriptive phrase to honestly define their sound. Their song "Emasculator,"...

  • Best Tribute Band

    Guns N' Hoses

    Tribute bands are hit or miss. Some do right by their name- and music-sakes, while others botch the act completely. When the good ones are great, however, they create something completely new, spinning an edge on the music even the originals couldn't pull off. Such is the case with the...

  • Best Vocalist (Female)

    Jen Goma

    If we had a category for "Best Work Ethic," Jen Goma would win that too. Somehow the Brooklyn-based singer manages to split her time among three prolific bands: A Sunny Day in Glasgow, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and People Get Ready, each of which released an album...

  • Best Vocalist (Male)

    Owen Rundquist

    Outside of heavy-metal circles, Owen Rundquist is known best for his haunting artwork, but throw the man a guitar and a microphone and his other talents become instantly apparent. After honing his chops back home in Spokane, Washington, with death-metalers Pathos, Rundquist's relocation to NYC saw him fronting death/crust bruisers...

  • Best Band Name

    Perfect Pussy

    The name is a conversation starter, but it's the music of Perfect Pussy that has made them critical darlings and this year's buzziest. After the Syracuse act dropped its mesmerizingly noisy debut EP, last year's I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling, the indie and DIY community began taking swift...

  • Best Band to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Darkside

    At the end of the summer, Darkside, the collaborative project between Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington, bowed out with a final show at Brooklyn Masonic Temple and a track called "Gone Too Soon." The song's title was fitting: Since forming in 2011 while huddled around a laptop in a Berlin...