Best Folk Band 2015 | Pink Slip | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

Its playlist ranges into rock, pop, and singer/songwriter territory, but its roots and heart are in that old-time religion: Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, Joan Baez, and (pre-electric) Dylan. A second, late-blooming career for vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Bill Bowen and Joan Friedenberg (she was a linguistics prof; he was a sportswriter and photojournalist), the band still shows an instructional and reportorial (and decidedly left-wing political) bent. It plays multimedia tribute shows at area schools and libraries, in addition to gigs at the usual bars and not-so-usual assisted living and rehab centers. If its act takes in the Beatles and Elvis, hey: Folks have made those tunes their own, and thus, call it folk.

Masticator is one of the finest names for a band. The word sounds ominous and authoritative, and it means "one who chews or grinds or kneads." It's almost tongue-in-cheek. Almost. Once you hear the West Palm Beach band, though, you'll feel like you're being crushed by the unforgiving choppers of metal in the mouth of music. The band's recently recorded LP, The Basement Murders, may not have a lot to do with the architecture of South Florida, but this release will baptize Florida metalheads with the brutal and inspired sounds of nine new tracks and two re-recordings from its Global Mastication EP. Guitarist Mike Dickson explains the band "broke into the modern wave of extreme in the death metal world while keeping our old school Florida death metal roots attached." Dickson himself just signed an endorsement deal with South Dakota's Blakhart guitars, which he identifies as, "an up-and-coming juggernaut of six-string creation." With songs names like "Chloroform," "Night of Long Knives," and "A Fatal Feasting," it's pretty clear your time in their cellar won't be pretty. But with Masticator luring you into the darkness of their sonic basement, you'll quickly embrace their credo: "Death Is Destiny."

A garage-rock revival washed over South Florida like a tsunami a few years ago, and people have been soaking themselves in its groovy mosh pits since. Though the metaphorical waters have subsided, one band continues to thrive with its own punchy sounds. The Gun Hoes have opened for Trick Daddy and King Khan, but the band is also perfectly comfortable playing tiny, dirty house parties all over town. The band's "mascot" is drummer Anthony Hernandez's hairiest of chests. It's hard to look away from this glistening carpet of human fur, even when you're slamming your sweaty body into another on the dance floor. Singer and guitarist Gabe Miranda is the brains of the band and the main melody maker. Nico Toussaint rounds out the threesome with his cool style and by slappin' da bass. The Gun Hoes have put out music on both Blood Oath Slumber Party and Cheap Miami but are coming out with an EP, Lust at the Beach. The three have plans to keep touring, carrying the psych torch 'round the nation, and getting everyone dancing in its wake.

Readers' Choice: Panic Disorder

Before even hitting a stage with their clean and atmospheric style of "minimalistic pop" electronica, West Palm's Kevin Neal and Sydney Morris were a well-adored hit. That's because of, well, the internet. The duo known as Jude hit the blogs with a click. Many clicks, in fact. Through a random SoundCloud upload, their single "Crystals" made its way onto the radar of plenty of web hot spots — including Interview Magazine and Pigeons and Planes. The two Dreyfoos School of the Arts alumni are young as hell too. But for being on this planet for around 18 years, they really know how to craft some incredibly listenable tunes. People have made Lorde comparisons, but we don't hear it. We hear, like, a millennial's the Sundays — and that's a huge compliment. The two brought their very listenable sound to South by Southwest in Austin this past March, playing a few showcases. You can grab their first album, The Bedroom EP, on the web (duh) and then sit around biting your nails waiting on their next endeavor.

For more than ten years, Broward-based DJ and producer Mister Gray has been slaving away behind the decks to make distinctive and quality dance music. A visit to his Soundcloud page reveals an online party — perfectly packaged and just waiting for the sun to set for booties to drop. You may have seen Mister Gray around town, sporting his signature heavy beard, Ray-Bans, and cap. He's on the rise and versatile, and he's got the whole South Florida scene covered and bouncing with his beats. You can catch him spinning live at places like downtown Miami's E11even, Monarchy in West Palm Beach, and Wall at the W on South Beach. And if there's a man who has put in his time and knows his shit, it's Mister Gray. The unofficial tastemaker of all things EDM, Diplo, even played Ruen and Gray's remix of 2 Chainz's "Birthday Song" on his BBC Radio 1 show Diplo & Friends. Mister Gray has been partnering quite a bit with Ruen, and their most recent release, "Boom Boom," is a veritable Vegas-style club banger. Enjoy him locally before he bursts from the South Florida cocoon and starts DJ'ing far, far away.

Readers' Choice: Misha Samson

This Hollywood duo picked the perfect name for their band, as their latest album, Native Echoes, is ten tracks of Florida sunshine. It is perfect to listen to while cruising along the coast or if you're trapped inland and wish you weren't. From the first listen, you can hear that singer/guitarist Kimmy Drake and drummer Skyler Black seem to be influenced by everyone who was influenced by Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Opener "All My Friends Were Punks" has a hint of the Ramones, and standout "Don't Call Me on the Phone" is the Ronettes by way of Amy Winehouse, while "Gnarly Waves" is just that, the peaceful surf crashing in over an instrumental. Native Echoes is a must for all those who still get giddy when "Be My Baby" comes on the airwaves.

Playing currently in his band Sweet Bronco and previously in Catalonia, Horgan is, year in and year out, probably the single best songwriter in South Florida. Like all great singers, he started early and was lucky enough to have ended up in the Florida Singing Sons, which produced other local success stories like Boots (Beyoncé's producer and songwriter). It should be noted, though, that training alone does not an artist make, and both Horgan's songwriting and voice are far stronger than most in the South Florida scene. Putting his boy-choir skills to work, Horgan has steadily built a massive catalog and toured last year in Sweet Bronco supporting the French singer Soko around the Southeast. The Horganator is currently engaged in a variety of writing and performance projects, working with former Boots bandmate David Barnard and others on new and interesting stuff.

At this friendly gay bar, Friday-night karaoke has entered the 21st Century. No longer must one fight over dusty old binders to see which selection of Nancy or Frank Sinatra songs you might croon along to. Instead check out the computer consoles, where you can type any song or artist that comes to mind and see if you, in your drunken stupor, can mutilate it. Even more 2015: Once you sign in, you can check through the comfort of your own iPhone to see which Elvis song you want to sing on the small stage. Be aware, though: The competition is fierce from regulars who have their Kenny Rogers down. But everyone is polite, and there is little heckling of newbies.

Readers' Choice: Whiskey Tango

If you want to snag a babe with some balance and brawn, you'll meet her with her (very toned) butt in the air on a floating vessel. Here, on the nice calm waters of the Middle River (by Whole Foods) is the place where your future lady friend will be improving those abs and calves as she strengthens her inner beauty as well. You'll meet yogis with a sense of adventure at this Fort Lauderdale spot. And having a first meeting in a bathing suit will likely feel as wonderfully disarming as When Harry Met Sally. If you're not up for a partner who can do really cool shit like a headstand on a surfboard or downward-facing dog with a paddle in her mouth, then don't even bother coming (kidding about that last part — the paddles will be in no one's mouths). Sunrise charges only $40 per paddleboard yoga session (other places charge like $75 or $80, which is cray). The sessions are offered Fridays at 9:30 a.m., but you also have the option of setting up a group session — only two people needed. However, we think you should organize a singles paddleboard yoga mixer with Speedos and bikinis. You'll thank us later.

What's hotter than a single dad who caters to his beloved spawn? A single adventurous dad who adores his little beasts and brings them to Off the Wall Trampoline Fun Center, that's what. Sure, if you go cruising for dudes in this massive, 36,500-square-foot ADHD paradise, you're going to find a few that are still married. But bars ain't cutting it for scoring a mature man. At Off the Wall, you'll find fit fathers who you know are committed — at least to their kids. And if old dudes aren't your thing, catch a muscular parkour pro bouncing off the walls, literally, or a fun guy playing laser tag, a gamer nerd at the arcade center, or Mr. Rock Wall Climber who is sure to at least offer to pay for the first round of drinks. Best part is, if you get bored and the pops are all lame-o, you can get a nice workout playing trampoline dodgeball. There's also a grownup sports lounge area for stretching before you show off those ten years of gymnastics to the starry-eyed padres looking just for you and your impressive split skills.

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