BEST LOCAL RAP ARTIST/GROUP Garcia "Some people label me a thug in an effort to prejudge/Not trying to be something I'm not," raps Garcia on "None of Dem." But he's no backpacker, and his solid debut album Anti-Social is packed with raw and uncompromising tracks: On the title number, one of the best cuts, producer Nick Fury samples the eerie climactic theme from the cautionary drug film Requiem for a Dream to full effect. A thoughtful young MC from Kendall, Garcia has been working Miami nightspots with his longtime crew Crazy Hood Productions for years, from big joints such as Mansion to dank rock emporiums such as Churchill's. Though Anti-Social was released last year, it's only now that hip-hop fans around the nation are hearing Garcia's album above the din of the culo crunk that dominates this city and learning about this complex, noteworthy artist.

BEST LOCAL ROCK BAND The Brand Great rock bands -- at least until they blow up nationally -- are like community leaders. They not only grab the spotlight for themselves, but they also help to shine it on an entire movement. The Brand is well on its way to meeting that goal. Last year the trio launched Plaid Fridays, a monthly showcase featuring top local rock bands at the now-defunct Diamond Lounge in Hialeah, and then successfully moved the night over to Churchill's. The group suspended the events in order to tour around the South and promote the debut album Grenadine, an inspired mix of pop-punk and indie-rock. Only time will tell if The Brand will become big, but their high standing in Miami is assured.

Readers´ Choice: Little Atlas

BEST ROCK VOCALIST (MALE) Ivan Marchena With great power comes great responsibility. Such should be the credo of the male vocalist. Always front and center, almost always the object of the ladies' affection (or at least attention), the vocalist has the job of making each woman in the audience feel as if she's the only one in the room and the men feel like they know exactly where the singer is coming from, because, bro, they've been there too. Charisma, stage presence, and a little cockiness are musts -- but they work only for those with the talent to back those attributes up with worthy sonics. Otherwise he's just the dude from the Killers. There's no need for Ivan Marchena -- who provides the chops and guitar for four-year-old Miami indie-pop staples Bling Bling -- to blow his own horn, however. His fans do it for him: "His voice is rich and real; his lyrics are honest, fun, and clever. He's your friend tapping into your life, not some back-yard rock star churning out product." And he's a babe.

BEST ROCK VOCALIST (FEMALE) JD Natasha At seventeen, precocious upstart JD Natasha may seem to be a bit young for this category. But, as evidenced by her debut Imperfecta/Imperfect, she's on her way to becoming a great rock vocalist. A far cry from the glossy pinups that dominate Latin pop, Natasha Jeannette Dueñas blends an infectious mix of pop-punk and rock en español with a surprisingly elastic voice and is capable of hitting high notes while expressing a variety of emotions. Something of an MTV Español darling with her infectious hit single "Lágrimas" and constant touring, JD Natasha is currently building a fan base for what looks to be a stellar career.

PERSONAL BEST The Waterford Landing "The suburban landscape is fertile with seeds of discontent, mischief, and dreams of flight," muses The Waterford Landing on its Website. It is just this sort of slightly wistful, aridly humorous, possibly serious thought process that distinguishes the Southwest Miami-Dade trio and moves it in a leap from subgenius cult fodder to major local influencers and stylemakers.

The Waterford Landing is a supergroup in a way, composed of well-respected IDM recording artists Rich Rippe (of Enamored Gazes and Ionian), Ed Matus (of HALO Vessel), and Alex Caso (resident Poplife DJ and programmer of the late, great Internet radio station Sonic Sound System).

"The Girls of Saga Bay," the ostensible single from the band's self-titled debut, is a near-perfect mesh of the jangly and the hushed, the jaded and the curious, the jumpup and the R.E.M.-maker.

Best Website based in or about Miami: Alex: Not too sure about this one. I'm into personal art Web spaces and obviously (where you can buy our album). Of course the hot thing these days are blog sites -- all the kids have 'em.

Best reason to live in Miami: Ed: The food! It's always the goddamn food! Alex: If you are into record hunting, there are some gold mines down here, but as a member of the DJ guild, I have vowed secrecy to their locations.

Best cheap thrill: Ed: Vandalism. Alex: Thrift shops -- back to my record-hunting obsession -- but with gas prices these days, the cheapest thrill in Miami is walking to a friend's house.

Best not-so-cheap thrill: Ed: Getting caught committing vandalism. Alex: Driving.

Best alternative career path: Alex: Telephone psychic or marrying into money. Ed: Corrupt City of Miami politician. That's where the money's at!

Best coffee shop: Alex: Anywhere I can get my fix of Cuban coffee, preferably at La Carreta on Calle Ocho. Sure, you don't have the cute girls a fancy-pants coffee shop would have; instead you have the old Cuban guys telling their tragic tales of lost riches and how Fidel Castro is in league with the Devil.

What musical trends do you predict for the year 2050? Alex: Probably whatever will be hot in 2030. Ed: If people ever get off this horrible loop of cultural recycling we've been stuck in, maybe people will create innovative music. With musical software becoming more and more user-friendly, the people of the future will be able to actually express their innermost thoughts and emotions through some sort of interface that allows thought patterns to emit sounds. For now, get ready for the rebirth of grunge and New Jack Swing, or as it will be known within the next three years, Neo Jack Swing.

BEST LOCAL LATIN ROCK BAND Suenalo Sound System Every year the Florida frontier becomes more polyglot. About the only South Americans who haven't made a move on these parts are the Bolivians, the Guyanans, and the Surinamese. They're also about the only ones not representin' for Suenalo, the source of Miami's best new spin on rock, Latin or otherwise, since Nil Lara first whipped out his son-ified electric cuatro. Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico: presente. Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba: presente. Chicago, New York, and the Republic of Texas: presente. Outgoing lead singer Itagui Corea is Colombian; incoming Amin DeJesus is Miami-Dominican. Drummer and singer Fabio Patiño is Mexican; conga player Alan Ramos is Puerto Rican; keyboardist Tony Laurencio and sax player Juan Turros are Miami Cubans; guitarists Phil Maranges and Gerard Glecer are New York Cuban and Massachusetts French, respectively. Chicago's man in Suenalo is trombonist Chad Bernstein. Other cities, states, and nations may not have a guy in this band, but they are there in spirit: The ensemble employs rhythms from Brazil to Jamaica, including samba, cumbia, rumba, son, hip-hop, and reggae. "We're mainly focusing on fusing Afro-beat and Latin rhythms with funk and rhythm and blues," Maranges says. "Afro-Latin funk?" Whatever you dub it, the Suenalo sound is buzzing from the fashionable warehouse parties of Wynwood to the trippy lounge scene of South Beach.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®