The end of 2012 brings a period of reflection and remembrance of the year we’re about to put behind us. It’s a time of recounting the good, the bad and everything in between. Some can’t wait for it to be over, while others are sad to see it go. And for some Connecticut musical acts, 2012 proved to be their break-out year.
(credit: Nicole DiCicco)

(credit: Nicole DiCicco)

Little Ugly

Named Best Band by Hartford Magazine, this four-piece group is certainly unique, to say the least. Members Michael Day, Nick Dickinson, Kaia Pazdersky and Jared Gardner combine their obvious talents and create a sound that they themselves admit “authentically thrives in its defiance of classification.” With thoughtful lyrics and beautifully composed melodies, Little Ugly pleases Connecticut residents both live as well as on recorded tracks. Although the band was formed prior to 2012, this year made it clear that the group is the cream of the crop in Connecticut. Download tracks for free on the band’s website.

String Theorie

Somewhat of a hybrid between rock and jazz genres, fingerstyle guitar is gaining popularity — in large part due to the success of Connecticut’s String Theorie. The trio has received numerous call-outs of positive press from highly respected music critics. It’s not just industry professionals that String Theorie has impressed; Connecticut residents are so taken with the group that fans voted Sting Theorie  winner of this year’s Best Folk/Traditional group of Hartford’s Grand Band Slam. The group was formed back in 2009, but it’s evident that 2012 has been a breakout year. We will definitely be hearing more in 2013.

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Mo Niklz

Of course, the best musical acts of 2012 aren’t just guys (and girls) playing instruments on stage — they also include the dazzling talents in the state’s hottest DJ booths. Mo Niklz had a great year. In addition to winning Best DJ in the state’s Grand Band Slam, he also went on tour all the way across the country and back. The same jams that had everyone feeling good in local venues like Sully’s Pub were taken down the West Coast. Even though he’s a big name around Connecticut and has performed at SXSW, Mo Niklz isn’t slowing down. He is already working on sets and mixes to try out at the World DJ Championship next year.

(credit: Nicole DiCicco)

(credit: Nicole DiCicco)

Dead By Wednesday

Connecticut has some great talent for all of the metalheads out there, and Dead By Wednesday is at the top of the genre. Winners of Best Metal of 2012, the band has received much success from its album “Master of Puppets.” Inspired by Metallica, among other metal groups, Dead By Wednesday knows the definition of hard work. In 2012, the band played over 150 shows. The group gained tremendous visibility, bringing its sound across the country on a national tour. Good news for fans is there is no shortage of performances. With any luck, the group’s 2013 calendar will be just as packed.

Matt Zeiner Band

Plenty of people experience the wintertime blues. Be it seasonal depression, the long, dark days or just the year’s end that gets folks down in the dumps, local blues act Matt Zeiner feels you. It’s a bit ironic that Matt Zeiner had a breakout year in 2012, as he has quite the musical history dating back more than 10 years ago. In the past, Zeiner toured with the likes of The Allman Brothers Band musician Dickey Betts. Although he had once left the Connecticut music scene, this year symbolized his obvious presence — and residents hope he’s here to stay. Matt Zeiner Band was named Best Blues of the year in the Grand Band Slam. Zeiner and company have a regular gig set up with Tools Bar and Grill of New Britain, where you can see them each Tuesday night.

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Nicole DiCicco is multimedia specialist in Connecticut who enjoys dancing, movies and live music. She writes about all the nightlife Connecticut has to offer. Her work can be found at