Best Album ::
The 92s - Television Fuzz
One of my favorite new bands of this year, The 92s, released Television Fuzz back in March. Full of distortion & well-written lyrics, the tracks on this album are complementary without sounding repetitive. Since moving closer to the Chicago area, The 92s have played a number of shows in the city and will surely continue to grow their fan-base here. Check out favorites on this album, "Read My Mind" and "Neurotic Laundry List".
Notables: Kina Grannis - Elements, Real Friends - Maybe This Place Is The Same and We're Just Changing, Shakey Graves - And The War Came, Cardinal Harbor - The Cold Season
Best New Find ::
A four-man, pop-rock band from Ohio, Walk The Moon puts on an energetic, dance-driven, feel-good show, and will be touring a lot in 2015. Their sophomore album, TALKING IS HARD, is a strong follow-up album to their even better (in my opinion) self-titled debut album. These guys have a great vibe and their song-writing skills are really impressive. Looking forward to seeing Walk The Moon again in 2015!
Best Venue ::
Aragon Ballroom - Uptown, Chicago
This venue in the city's Northern neighborhood of Uptown is a great stepping stone between the 500-person, intimate room and the 20,000-person arena of the United Center. The Aragon Ballroom grabbed notable acts this year, such as Bastille, Lana Del Ray, The Neighbourhood, and Martin Garrix. Its sister venue, The Rivieria Theatre, books well-known bands as well, and is just down the street. The interior is castle-themed, with a ceiling painted like the night sky, and you can enjoy the show from either the ground floor or the balcony.
Notables: The Throne Room - Lakeview, The Chicago Theatre - The Loop
Best Music Media Source ::
When The Gramophone Rings, http://whenthegramophonerings.com/
When The Gramophone Rings is UK-based but it features a lot of great bands and has sections like "INTRODUCING...", "Unsigned Band of the Month", and "Track of The Day". Songs are usually posted via SoundCloud to make for easy sampling. Since 2010, this music website highlights a unique array of artists and bands from across the pond and it's definitely worth a listen if you want to keep in touch with the music scene in the UK.
Notables: Consequence of Sound, http://consequenceofsound.net/
Best Live Show ::
Reignwolf at Double Door, 5.9.14
This show was pure insanity. Jordan Cook, aka Reignwolf, played an incredible set, and rocked everyone's ears off. He consistently sells out shows and the craziest thing is that he hasn't even released a full album yet. He's gained a cult-like following because it's impossible to not be impressed by his guitar and vocal abilities. The Wolf is a gritty, passionate performer, and might be one of the most talented guitarists of this generation - what he does during a live show is just ridiculous!
Best Music Movie/Documentary::
This movie, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, pushes boundaries and leaves you wondering "how much is too much?" in the quest for success. Whiplash is intense and at times, an emotional rollercoaster, but the acting is incredible - it's especially relatable for anyone who has been a member of a music ensemble. A stand-out at the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash is one of the best music-movies to date.
UPCOMING IN 2015 - be on the lookout for new music from...