Music » This Little Underground

New releases from Orlando bands: The Welzeins, Byson, Brian Smalley, Alien Witch

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Over the past handful of years, I've watched local band the Welzeins evolve into one of the best all-out rock bands in Orlando's current class. You can see what I mean on their hot-revving new record, Feast, the trio's first full-length album since their eponymous 2014 record when they were just a two-piece. Freshly released just last week, the eight-song Feast is a charged, woolly slab of rock that splits the difference between stoner rock and punk. And currently, it's generously available as a name-your-price download on their Bandcamp.

On the electronic end of the spectrum, noted Orlando producer Byson has really jacked up the BPMs for his new EP, groove district vol. 1. Although it packs the pure velocity of hard-core jungle, this elegant drum & bass offering swathes the breakneck breakbeats in shimmering, cinematic melodies. The effect is at once sailing and jackhammering. Everyone who was ever in a chill-out room just before dawn in the early 1990s knows what I'm talking about.

An intriguing recent release is Chosen by local musician Brian Smalley, a concept album that's essentially a folk opera. These seemingly straightforward Florida folk songs are, just like all things Florida, a little bit more twisted underneath the veneer. Across 21 connected songs, the musical novel unfurls as a layered murder mystery.

Set in Belle Glade, the town where Smalley spent his teen years, the album unfolds in easy-rolling porch songs that float by like balmy south Florida breezes. You could just tap your toes to it if you want, but there's a lyrical rabbit hole here that beckons you down, past the thin tourist facade of the Sunshine State, to the dark, swampy underbelly that's always lurked beneath.

Chosen is released on Florida folk label Gatorbone Records and available through the artist's website (briansmalley.com).

I know Orlando's Alien Witch was just in this local release roundup only a month ago with their standout album Altered States, but here they are again with yet another full album. This new batch of songs, titled Psychic Therapy Center, shows a slightly different edge of Dee Crittendon's distilled darkness than Altered States. Although still stylishly gloomy, this fresh dozen skews more synth-pop, and it's just as good.

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