Best NYC Musicians by Genre, Clubs, and Comedians
Willie Davis Lucius
Best Indie Band: Lucius
It's not a mystery why Lucius' twitter handle is '@ilovelucius'--it's nearly impossible to not fall in love with the infectiously poppy, mod-inspired band straight out of Brooklyn's Ditmas Park. With the united front of Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe at the helm, Lucius is as much visual art as they are musical virtuosos. They match color coordinated outfits and Anna Wintour bobs all while belting in complete unison. This year saw the release of their debut album--Wildewoman--and Lucius' star rise on a continuous basis as they've extensively toured the country and caught the eye of more than just their NYC based fans. Plus, at a time when the sound of Brooklyn's indie scene has become dangerously homogenous, Lucius dares to be different, which makes their leading ladies a couple of wild women indeed.
Best Karaoke: Planet Rose
The best karaoke is the kind you don't remember. Because you're drunk. Real drunk. Any place with a working microphone and thick songbook will do, so long as the owners aren't gouging you on drinks. The famed Sing Sing on St. Marks Place could occupy this spot. So too could Karaoke one 7, Karaoke St. Marks, or any one of the countless spots you've spent a night wailing Meat Loaf's "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" off-key. (Pro tip: Never sing Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light.") But, for our money, there's no spot doing it quite like Planet Rose, the casual Alphabet City hang that gets bonus points for being a karaoke bar without the word "karaoke" in its name. Most nights it's packed full of eager-to-sing regulars who make for the best kind of attentive, understanding audience. Some of them can really belt it out, too.
Best Rock Bar: Lucky 13 Saloon
Smack dab in the middle of endless baby stroller traffic jams and kale emporiums of Park Slope lies a magical place, a seemingly quaint side-street bar with black curtains, where nary an appletini is served and Iron Maiden reigns supreme. Lucky 13 Saloon regulars swill cheap beer as C-rate slasher films splash copious amounts of blood across the muted TV and the loaded-to-the-gills jukebox blasts metal at all times. Be careful when you order a drink, as there's a good chance one of the go-go dancers strutting across the bar top might knock it over by accident. Hell, the tatted-up dancers might just steal it and spit it back at you with a smile anyway. Imagine Coyote Ugly, but with the kind of vibe where tourists would be beaten into dust. This place is disinfectant for squares.
Best Free Concert Series: Lincoln Center Out of Doors
One year before the excellent 2012 documentary A Band Called Death brought them to a bigger audience and wider acclaim, Detroit punkers Death rocked the stage of Lincoln Center. For free. They were technically outside the venue, playing the plaza in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, an open-air festival free to the public that features a diverse collection of acts made up of an assortment of old-time faves, just-starting-outs, not-yet-discovereds, and everything in between. This summer's lineup included indie pop hit-makers like My Brightest Diamond and Emily Wells, the L.A. cultural mash-up of Ozomatli, and a few nights of big brass bands that got the plaza as hopping as an all-seated (thank you, Lord God in Heaven) venue can get. There's a nice selection of beer and street foods located around the park, too, and the bandshell soundsystem is top-notch. Everything about Lincoln Center Out of Doors is, in fact. Impeccable quality from top to bottom for the beautiful price of nothing.
Best Indie Pop Star: Emmy Wildwood
Emmy Wildwood's punk beginnings make the sharp edge of her punk difficult to ignore. She first made a name in NYC's music scene as the lead singer of Velta and has since joined the raucous all-female Guns N' Roses tribute band Guns N' Hoses along with opening up her own vintage boutique and record company Tiger Blanket. The label--having recently acquired the glam rock outfit Mother Feather--has been the perfect outlet for Wildwood's own solo work and with two singles under her belt, the driving "Chick Chick Boom (Tired of Love)" and the sing-along friendly new track "Luxurious Problems." Of course, her style is as unique and colorful as her sound making her an automatic nominee for rising pop royalty.
Best Cover Band: Jessie's Girl
The point of a cover band is to pay tribute to a particular artist, era or scene. Undoubtedly, Jessie's Girl, who currently hold a Saturday night residency at Canal Room, are the epitome of '80s worshippers and as talented as the group are, their enthusiasm for the music they're performing is even more exceptional and endearing. Recently joined by American Idol and Rock of Ages-alum Constantine Maroulis, the main trio of lead singers--Jenna O'Gara, Mark Rinzel, and Chris Hall--are an ambitious bunch as they spend a few hours every Saturday evening switching in and out of their most decadent and ridiculous '80s gear and belt out tunes like the Rick Springfield hit that gave them their namesake. With Eric Presti, Mike Maenza, Drew Mortali, and Sky laying down some impressive musicianship throughout each show, Jessie's Girl is more than a band--they're a flat out good time.