How to surprise the sound enthusiast whose record collection is so exhaustive that a Park Ave CDs gift card is usually the default gifting option? Try shopping local for music; it's a good bet you'll turn them on to some new and obsession-worthy.
One of Orlando's more notable musical exports is feral garage rock. Some recent best bets are the Golden Pelicans platter Grinding for Gruel (12XU) and 45s from two different generations of rock maniacs, Spoon Dogs' "The Way You Talk About It" (Pig Baby Records) and the WildTones' "Pretty Boy" (Rockin' Records). And how could we forget the Woolly Bushmen's much-anticipated and expansive In Shambles 12-inch (Pig Baby Records) from earlier this year?
It's been a strong year in Central Florida for hip-hop. Sean Shakespeare self-released his Bloodline CD, spotlighting his commanding delivery. Meanwhile, two fresh faces in the area got love from cutting-edge national labels: E-Turn released Young World through Fake Four on CD, and Tampa's They Hate Change put out cassettes on Deathbomb Arc, making them labelmates with JpegMafia and Clipping.
Area Americana true blues Thomas Wynn & the Believers impressed with new album Wade Waist Deep (Mascot Records), and Hannah Harber & the Lionhearts' debut CD Long Time Coming (self-released) is ample evidence of a strong voice in the scene.
Indie rock is covered ably (and how) by the Pauses' ambitious Unbuilding, available on wax (Arctic Rodeo Records), while newer dream-pop act Cathedral Bells have an eponymous self-released cassette making the rounds.
Local punk pace-setters and heroines Wet Nurse released the lethal Last Drop EP on cassette this year, and Smartpunk Records put out LPs from Orlando punks Teen Agers (When We Were) and Debt Neglector (The Kids Are Pissed) over the last year-and-change.
How about underground legends? Orlando has a couple who got the deluxe reissue treatment this year. Relapse Records put out a two-LP version of death metal icons – led by gone-too-soon Orlandoan Chuck Schuldiner – Death's Live in L.A. album. And NoBusiness Records began issuing CDs of lost and unreleased material from loft-jazz/free jazz Orlando hero Sam Rivers, starting with Emanation.
There are also smaller local labels turning out albums worthy of notice. Total Punk offshoot Mind Meld released an instrumental album from NOLA's Quintron, Erotomania, that has more in common with Martin Denny than his usual madcap-soul. Cassette imprint Illuminated Paths hit gold with new work from internet darling rapper Viper, Bout Tha Money, issued on gold (naturally) cassette. Florida Breaks flame-keeper DJ Kimball Collins is self-releasing CDs that chronicle particularly wild live sets from the 1990s. Even farther out, tape labels Circuit Church and Popnihil turn a tiny but fierce spotlight on local electronic margin-walkers like Modal Plane, Mother Juno, Jas000n and Bacon Grease. (Full disclosure: Popnihil is owned-operated by Orlando Weekly's music editor, Matthew Moyer.) And we can't help but mention enigmatic Central Florida label Cephia's Treat's vinyl album of lost recordings from another much-missed Florida musician, E.N., the ghostly, affecting The Heart Is Just an Organ.
We end with an album that satisfies across genre and age, the Sh-Booms' long-awaited debut album and spectacular blues explosion, Blurred Odyssey (Limited Fanfare Records). There's something for every ear here.
– This story appears in the Dec. 3, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.