Like a bright flame tree blooming in the spring, Camila Luna stands out from the crowd. With only one EP under her belt, the Spanish-language Flamboyán, Luna has already made national headlines thanks to her Latin Grammy nomination last year for Best Pop/Rock Album. Written by la cantante herself and produced by José Luis Pardo of Los Amigos Invisibles, the EP was officially released in 2014. However, it wasn't until 2015 that Luna's música was discovered by the industry at large. Best described as a mix of smooth, tropical vibes with a touch of reggae, Luna's acoustic guitar and soft voice are the main instruments on the title track, "Flamboyán." But in simplicity — the music video for her single "Flamboyán" was filmed using her iPhone in her grandmother's backyard in Puerto Rico — is where the singer shines. Although Luna didn't take home el premio for Best Pop/Rock Album last year, the singer isn't slowing down — the University of Miami alumna made an appearance at this year's Premio Juventud, recently dropped the single "Siento," and has been performing everywhere from the 305 to Madrid. The future is looking mighty bright for this Miami girl.

Los Herederos have made it their sworn job to share Yoruba culture with the world. "My grandma always said I would inherit something," says Philbert Armenteros, the band's lead singer and percussionist, of his abuela, who was a noted rumba dancer and singer in Havana. "Of course, in that moment I was too small and did not understand. As I grew older, I started realizing, Wow, I have a richness, and that richness was our folklore, our essence, our roots." Armenteros left his homeland when he was 18 but has made it his life's work to spread the music and culture of traditional religions such as Santería and Palo Malombe through rhythm and song. "This is what we have inherited — our gift — and it's what we need to share with the people."

If we had a nickel for every time someone groaned that Wynwood is "over," gentrified into oblivion, a shell of its former authentic glory days, this Best of Miami issue would be printed on gold leaf instead of paper. And, yes, Wynwood is very different from what it used to be. In the past five years, it has been stuffed full of enough selfies and corporate money to bloat the neighborhood into an almost unrecognizable cash cow. But whether you prefer the good old days of scrappy galleries or eagerly anticipate the gleaming future, you have to admit Wynwood is booming. This is largely thanks to its nightlife, which seems to grow each month. Locals remember the days when Wynwood had about two bars to choose from. Now, on each block awaits other options. Choices range from the Latin-tinged El Patio to the Wynwood hipster mainstay Wood Tavern. With Wynwood Brewing Company, J. Wakefield Brewing, and Concrete Beach Brewery, the hood is now home to three very good distributing breweries (and others are on the way). There are multiple craft cocktail bars, quality late-night eats, and innovative restaurants. And despite the neighborhood's insane popularity, almost everything in Wynwood is still reasonably affordable. Sure, come for the murals and the selfies, but stick around once the sun goes down. It's worth it.

When New Times interviewed Douglas Abernethy, vice president and general manager of Entercom Miami, the company behind 104.3 the Shark, he made us a promise: There would never be a single Creed or Nickelback song played on his station. That solemn pledge came last September, and we're pleased to say we haven't heard "With Arms Wide Open" befouling our airwaves a single time since. 104.3 the Shark came into South Florida with a laser-focused purpose — filling the alternative void in our corporate radio market. That was a large void indeed. We had classic rock, hip-hop, underground stations, hell, even a jazz night or two. But there really was nowhere to hear the early-'00s emo anthem you so desperately craved to get you through rush hour. From playing '90s grunge and '80s classics like Depeche Mode to the good old high-school Hot Topic angst of Panic! at the Disco and Taking Back Sunday, the Shark has exactly what you need, assuming what you need are power chords and skinny jeans.

Readers' choice: 104.3 the Shark

For all too many national music snobs, Miami is good for only Gloria Estefan nostalgia and Ultra Music Festival electro partying. But contrary to what other major cities would have you believe, the Magic City is a petri dish teeming with radical development. We may be comparatively small in size, but we have a million sonic flavors from which to choose. Miami's DJ DZA, famous for his handiwork on the Peach Fuzz parties, has been all over the world, and he recognizes the talent brewing in his own backyard. That's why he gathered his audiophile friends and founded Rear View Records, a label without any regard to genre or style. The only rule to being signed: You've got to be good, and you've got to be from Miami. It's a young label with just a few releases so far, among them the '90s house-style banger "Get Into Something" from LTENGHT and 305 vocalist B.Wav, as well as an EP from DZA favorite dark dream band Kodiak Fur. With a tons of other products in the works for 2016 in both digital and physical releases, Rear View Records already reflects everything that's brilliant and weird about Miami's music scene.

Umi Selah and Aja Monet created Smoke Signals Studio with the community in mind. For them, this is not a business, but a personal mission. The two run the studio out of their own Little Haiti home. Monet is a Brooklyn-born poet of Cuban-Jamaican descent. Selah was born in Chicago and, after graduating from Florida A&M University, cofounded the Florida activist group Dream Defenders. "A smoke signal is something that someone sends up when they're stranded, when they have lost all hope and they're looking for somebody to take notice and rescue them," Selah says. The concept for the studio is similar: to give a creative outlet to Miami's disenfranchised and underserved. Back then, Selah and Monet had hoped to raise $10,000 to get things off the ground. They ended up collecting more than $15,000, and now Smoke Signals is up and running. Because they operate out of their shared home, Selah and Monet prefer to keep their address private. But it's not difficult to get in touch with them. If you're in need of studio space and a warm, collaborative, uplifting environment, shoot an email to smokesignalsstudio@gmail.com and get the music started.

Bardot
Courtesy of Bardot

On the eve of Easter, Miami was blessed with the most beautiful, sweaty, and queer show the city has possibly ever seen. As the clock struck midnight Saturday, calling an end to Semana Santa's pious restraint, restorative vibes from Gooddroid, Poorgrrrl, Junglepussy, and Le1f rained down upon Bardot's intimate dance floor. Bardot's main stage is really just a quaint square. And as Junglepussy emerged, there was nothing blocking revelers from getting down with the 24-year-old New York-based rapper. So they did. But JP didn't mind — this is what she loves. She wiped sweat from her face and stayed hydrated with a nearby water bottle between belting out bangers such as "Get to Steppin" and "Spicy 103 FM." During Le1f's set, somehow two backup dancers fit behind the rapper — who has broken boundaries as a commercially successful gay hip-hop artist. Le1f enticed the crowd, keeping the energy up at all times. By the end of his set, all boundaries between the artist and the spectators had been lost. Miami's music freaks encircled him, feeding off one another's energy, moshing together as one sweaty unit until, finally, he had to leave.

Ball & Chain
Courtesy of Ball & Chain

The last Thursday of every month, Miami's best local jazz station, WDNA (88.9 FM), broadcasts live from Calle Ocho's favorite lovingly restored club, Ball & Chain. It's fitting, really, considering the venue: In its first iteration during the '30s, '40s, and '50s, it hosted jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Chet Baker. Today, Ball & Chain continues the rich tradition of live jazz, bringing local and national talent to the iconic pineapple stage on the back patio of the Little Havana bar. There's no cover charge, and no one will bat an eyelash if you get up and bust a few moves. Jazz in Miami is a rare bird, but when you're lucky enough to see it spread its wings, there's no better place to bear witness than Ball & Chain, with a Calle Ocho old-fashioned firmly planted in one hand.

Blackbird Ordinary
Courtesy of Blackbird Ordinary

If it's Tuesday and you're in Brickell, you should be at Blackbird. If it's Tuesday and you're in Brickell and you have two X chromosomes, you absolutely need to be at Blackbird. One of the funkiest, most authentic spots in Miami's financial district, Blackbird is a solid choice any night of the week. But Tuesday, with free cover for everyone (yes, even the guys), the deals are too good for a woman to pass up. From 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., ladies drink free. Any well drink her heart desires, as well as the bar's signature cocktail, the Blackbird, costs the very reasonable price of zero dollars. With a DJ spinning inside and fresh air available out back, Blackbird knows how to take care of the fairer sex. Drink up, ladies. Lord knows you deserve it.

Let's face it: Wynwood's acclaimed Art Walk ain't for everyone. For every art fiend who feeds off the giant crowds and jam-packed galleries there's a claustrophobe who prefers fewer selfie sticks with his modern art. There's hope for the shy art patrons of the Magic City. It's called Secret Garden. The semisecret monthly gathering takes place at various venues throughout Wynwood but always brings that right mix of the bizarre and the captivating for which Art Walk was once known before becoming Miami's biggest monthly party. Admission is usually free if you RSVP early enough, but at most will cost you $10 to get in the door. The event and locale vary from month to month. Recently, Secret Garden hosted techno wizard's Audiofly for its carnival-inspired fest, Flying Circus, where strongmen and fire-breathers mingled to thumping tracks. Other months have brought microfestival Desert Hearts. One never quite knows what to expect when walking into Secret Garden. But whatever greets you inside, it's better than staring at some boring painting you can't afford.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®