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 Mar 22 - 28, 2018 
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Best of Burque Music 2018

Ensembles and Artists

By

Ah, the joys of division! With so many genres, categories and forms of music available to local listeners, it naturally follows that a burg the size of Albuquerque is bound to have a sound that at least someone, if not everyone likes. What follows are 20 categories comprising our reader’s thoughts, voices and votes on the top artists and ensembles, divided into helpfully descriptive genres. Though these days, many of those involved drift and careen and veer towards a plethora of different influences and genres it’s still fun to break things up in a convenient format that not only shows unity of purpose but diversity of execution.

Best Rock Band

The Despots

The Despots, The Despots, The Despots. Primo, these dudes are awful popular! And powerful, too. An active fan base combined with our super high technology Alibi voting system resulted in what would have been unthinkable merely a year ago. Now The Depots rule the roost and the proof is in the voting. Where’s Vladimir Putin when you need him; he doesn’t wear a shirt sometimes either, but I’m pretty sure he’s not looking over our tallies like he did say, in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. Rock on Despots, rock on.

2) Moonshine Blind

3) Sweet Nothin

Best Punk Band

The Despots

The Despots are also adjudged to be the Best Punk Rock Band in Albuquerque. Who knew?

2) Constant Harmony

3) Cobra vs. Mongoose

Best Metal Band

Suspended

Suspended
courtesy of the artist

Here’s a category that no way could The Despots or Eddie Brewer win. You just can’t bang your head to that sorta stuff, sabes? But you can totally imagine a headbanger’s ball, hair and all, when thinking about or listening to this category’s winner: Suspended! This ensemble (Amanda Castillo on guitar, Jessica Armstrong playing bass and Channing Concho handling the drums) thrashes hard enough to kill the average mortal, so take heed, listeners, before you melt your brain with metal epics like “When the Smoke Clears” and “Beast Within.” You’ve been warned, puny humans.

2) Ashes of Jupiter

3) Sorry Guero

Best Pop Band

Red Light Cameras

Red Light Cameras
courtesy of the artist

Consistently voted by Alibi readers as one of the premier rocanrol outfits in this town, 2018 sees the inimitable Red Light Cameras capturing not photos of absconding traffic scofflaws but the award for Best Pop Band. Danceable, listenable, filled with passion and superb players, these cameras—comprised of vocalist Amanda Machon, guitarist Chris Walsh, bassist Barney Lopez and drummer Je Bolt—continue to make strides and fans as they rock out all over this dusty, pop-obsessed town.

2) ALCHEMIE

3) Prism Bitch

Best Jazz Band

La Chat Lunatique

These guys make hot, dirty jazz, y’all. In case you don’t know what I mean and you still haven’t heard this ubiquitious ensemble snake their way through sultry sets that set the standard for shaking it out in El Burque, then grab your hat, hold on to your shoes and go check out one of their innumerable gigs about town. With references to Django and Stephane Grapelli abounding in a body of work that prowls and parades around passionately, members Jared Putnam, Muni Kulasinghe, John Sandlin and Fernando Garavito are this year’s choice for Best Jazz Band.

2) Entourage Jazz

3) Hillary Smith and ChillHouse

Best Latin Band

Baracutanga

Baracutanga
courtesy of the artist

They are a septet, an ensemble that features members from all over this big blue marble. Coming from countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru and proceeding to melt themselves into the musical community of the Southwestern US—particularly Albuquerque—has been no problem for the group comprised of Norte Americanos including percussionists Nicolas Baker, Paul Gonzales (who also plays trumpet); trombonist Micah Hood and guitarist Randy Sanchez. Ecuadoran bassist and vocalist Carlos Noboa (known to shake a timbali now and then); Bolivian multi-instrumentalist Kilko Paz and Jackie Zamora (from Perú) on vocals add a worldly flair to things with songs like “Sangra Pachamama” and “Rumba de Burque.”

2) ¡Revíva!

3) Concepto Tambor

Best Reggae/Ska Band/Artist

SharkSuit

Sharksuit

If you wear a sharksuit and come to my door I will reel your ass in and have you for dinner. On the other hand, if you wear a plush shark head mask on your head whilst sporting a fancy suit and skinny tie, then I will let you go and celebrate your fun and folksy ska and reggae output, laced as it is with the sharp teeth of punk rock intention. How’s that for a description of an awesome band that should play more gigs in this town in order to demonstrate their predatory, aquiline power.

2) The Riddims

3) ¡Revíva!

Best World Band

Baracutanga

Winners of the Best Latin Band category too, this ensemble stretches it’s wide-spanning wings all over the damn globe, influence-wise. Listening elicits reminders of the importance of Peruvian instrumental conceits, Caribbean rhythms and American rock-style dynamics in shaping the current state of World Music. One more time: listen to “Sangra Pachamama” and “Rumba de Burque,” if you all want a couple of decent reasons these folks won in both esteemed categories.

2) ¡Revíva!

3) Concepto Tambor

Best Country-Western Band/Artist

Tylor Brandon Band

Tylor Brandon Band
courtesy of the artist

Tylor Brandon and his band are busy building a brand. Their back-to-classics approach to the sawhorse known as country-Western music, inflected with incisive playing and a natural flair that comes from knowing the genre head to tail has been turning heads here in Duke City, N.M. Brandon’s resonant voice and acoustic guitar-handling, combined with the saturated strings of players like Joshua Lee (lead guitar and mandolin), Emily Anslover (Fiddle) and a rhythm section comprised of bassist Jeff Wilson and drummer Kyle Matthews got the whole dang band voted Best Country-Western Band/Artist, too.

2) Moonshine Blind

3) Kyle Martin

Best Blues Band/Artist

Levi Platero

Levi Platero
courtesy of the artist

Straight outta Diné Bikéyah, Levi Platero emerged as an important interpreter of the electrified blues—through the guitar—while still an adolescent. He and his family left the Rez and toured practically everywhere to prove that contention; a little later in his young life, Levi played mostly rock guitar before recently returning to New Mexico and a solo career that kicks ass. His 2017 single, “Take Me Back” won awards and re-established the guitarist as a regional force to be reckoned with.

2) Felix y Los Gatos

3) Coach Gun

Best Folk/Americana Band

Silver String Band

Silver String Band
courtesy of the artist

The Silver String band features the virtuosic violin-istic emanations of Emily Anslover, backed by heady, humble and hellacious musicians including bassist Paul Hunton, mandolin player Jacob Chavez, guitarist Kyle Malone and banjo master Lars Olsen. Together this cray quintet fashions tunes both terrific and tuneful. I reckon this town has some of the most powerful and plaintive crafters of American folk music melded with rootsy rock overtones west of the Pecos River; the Silver String Band have convinced our reader’s of the same, it seems.

2) Moonshine Blind

3) Higher Ground Bluegrass

Best Hip-Hop Artist

Def-i

Def-i grew up in Diné Bikéyah too, before moving to Burque where he proceeded to conquer hip-hop nation with his down-tempo, underground, freestyle rap, a musical thing that flows with keen social intention, calls for community action and is terrifically diggable and 100 percent organic too. Dude’s already a star the around the world, so how ’bout a little love for him here in Burque? Once again, our reader’s agreed with that contention, so here’s to that “foundation of freedom.”

2) Jubes Juberstein

3) 2DopeBoys

Best Soul/R&B Band/Artist

Citizens of Tape City

Citizens of Tape City
courtesy of the artist

Citizens of Tape City is Josef Scott and Artha Meadors, two of the top musicians in Albuquerque, methinks. Casually groovy, deeply and devastatingly descriptive with their use of rock instrumentation to tell complex sonic tales and most importantly, fun as hell to listen and dance to, Citizens of Tape City should be required listening for all citizens of this village too.

2) Delphia

3) Hillary Smith

Best Rockabilly Band

Moonshine Blind

Moonshine Blind also won in the categories related to potential record label material, best album and best single. It’s evident that they embrace rockabilly—a bumpy, edgy side road just off the main rocanrol highway. It’s a hard trip. I’ve heard you need a fast car to get there; users of the genre have to be used to pain, hence the tattoos and cut-time tempos.

2) The Despots

3) Cowboys and Indian

Best Electronic Artist

Spaceblnkt

Spaceblnkt
courtesy of the artist

I don’t know who the hell these guys are, they wear freaking masks. But I’m listening to their album SPACE BLNKT as I write this and I must say it totally rocks. The keyboards on the first track transition from electro to jazzy prog with calm confidence. They also use some very knowing, deeply groovy samples going on later “Moon Rocks” as well as some deadly accurate drumming, human metronome style, yo. No wonder this trio took first place in the year we refer to as 2018. Totally futuristic.

2) ICUMDRUMS

3) Blitzar

Best DJ

DJ Wae Fonkey

DJ Wae Fonkey

A member of the Phunky Monkey Squad as well as a long time super DJ who capably spins every genre known to humankind—well except art music; we’re still a long ways off from sampling Mahler one hopes—DJ Wae Fonkey has an encyclopedic knowledge of records and uses his super powers for good … so yeah you can dance to what the man does. As he says, “it’s locking rocking and popping.”

2) DJ Remainz

3) DJ Flo Fader

Best Cover Band

Pink Freud

Pink Freud
courtesy of the artist

It seems pretty dang obvious that Burque would be the home of a band that covers, nay channels Pink Floyd, the favorite band of many a generation of freaks, geeks and rockers that came up in the US during the past 50 years. This ensemble is composed of Tony Orant on keys and vocals, veteran Burque rocker Chuck Hawley (Splinterfish, Mucho Buddha) on guitars, Doug Bellen on bass, Brad Yablonsky on drums and vocalist Rachel Ross. Mike Gerdes handles the band’s visuals. Hey this ain’t just another brick in the wall; go check this band out before you run out of time.

2) Coach Gun

3) The Dirty Shades

Best Chorus

New Mexico Gay Men's Chorus

NM Gay Men’s Chorus
courtesy of the artist

In 1981, a group of gay male singers created an art music ensemble called The Brash Ensemble. It was one of the nation’s first gay men’s choruses and it came right outta the Duke City, folks. Eventually evolving into it’s present day presentaion, this storied vocal group is a member of many honorary organizations and performs some of the most beautiful, eloquently executed choral music heard in the state and the nation. Artistic Director Aaron Howe commands a group that can handle any composition in the repertoire from Handel to Grammy award-winning composer Andrew Tin.

2) Quintessence: Choral Artists of the Southwest

Best Experimental/Avante-garde Band/Artist

Pherkad

Pherkad
courtesy of the artist

Pherkad arrives from out of the dusky, dreamy realm of the jam band, combining nuanced traces of a multitude of other genres—including jazz, rock and folk—to make a rocanrol stew that is intriguing, tasteful and totally, incomparably experimental. The members of this award-winning ensemble are guitarist Jason Bowers, drummer Cheese, keyboardist Zac Ramsey and multi-instrumentalist Chris Patchett. Together their output is authentically psychedelic, not “psych,” a good thing when listening to the galaxy for proof of intelligent life.

2) ICUMDRUMS

3) Spaceblnkt


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