These are the columns I like to write: lots of fresh meat this week and all of it native. But first, a little beef.
I know there are fellow music seekers out there. Certainly not enough of you, but there are more than I'm seeing – or so I keep telling myself in order to go on living. For those enlightened heads, multi-genre showcase series the Grand Collab has become my not-so-secret safari spot to sample and discover nascent talent not just from the metro, but from around the state.
The latest chapter (June 28, Will's Pub) was bookended by quantities already known to me: hip-hop neo-classicist AMiAM and quirk-pop veteran Marc With a C. It's been years since I've seen the latter perform and it's nice to see that he's still plying his dork wit to good effect. With more than a dozen years in the game, Marc is a bit of a cult hero in the local nerd scene. But he isn't that old-school wallflower archetype. He is through and through today's nerd: out, proud and in charge. Though he lyrically engenders all the requisite awkwardness and humanity, he does it with total assurance in his musical and comedic ability, which are quite well-honed.
Of the new finds, the first was Orlando's Harsh Radish, an interesting one-man act that fuses guitar and synthesizer. His blend of pop, electronic and acoustic observes little visible boundary in style or medium, but it's all unified by a nervy melodicism.
The other was Tampa's Samurai Shotgun, a band with the danglers to venture into the defiled fusion of rap and rock. Many an art crime has been committed by a full rock band with an MC and a DJ, but try and leave that luggage behind when you consider them. Like Orlando's Deaf 2 the Industry, Samurai Shotgun's imagining of rap-rock is a million miles away from the bro tools that left their stench on the concept. Perhaps it would make you feel better to know that they're much more Rage Against the Machine than Linkin Park, or that frontman Mateo Henley recognized my Death From Above shirt even though it had no words on it. Either way, they're an amalgam of rap, punk energy and spacey effects that's raw and visceral.
Because one of the acts dropped off, the formal part of the showcase ended early. But true to the intimate and cooperative spirit of the Grand Collab, the action moved down to the floor in an impromptu cypher that involved featured rappers AMiAM, host TKO, Mateo Henley and anyone game enough to step up. It was a moment.
It's serious business any time Georgia standouts Black Tusk come to town (July 2, Will's Pub), but my scope was pointed more at a couple of rising Florida acts this time.
A new local band making increasing ripples on the scene lately, Bhavachakra deals in progressive black metal with some unusual undercurrents. Their storms come like a full-blast hydrant but are occasionally cut with passages of intricate and atmospheric melodies. They play a demanding style and they're not the tightest right now, but at least they're not typical.
Tampa's Meatwound, however, was absolutely searing. It's actually a perfect time to climb aboard because they're just about to release a debut album, Addio, on July 24 via Magic Bullet Records, and it's one bloody beast. On record, they're like Unsane's long-haired cousin, spiking nasty, gut-scraping noise rock with metal extremity. While others fix on the kill with a gunning attack, Meatwound's bloodlust is in the butchery, relishing every grisly knife stroke of the act. It's a sound that's hairy, septic and impressively savage. Live? Holy fucking shit, they are an inferno, with a roar that's hellish and gigantic. After you hear those dirty, clawing bass lines, you'll need a shower.
Meatwound is one of the most credible and imminent threats in heavy music to rise from around here in a while. These Florida boys have the goods and they've got one huge shell of an album locked and loaded, so strap in.