Headed to South by Southwest this year? Me neither. Like high-quality Florida music? Good enough! To celebrate their official festival showcase (Mar. 19, the Ghost Room), respectable Tampa label New Granada is giving away a 12-song sampler of the participating bands at newgranada.bandcamp.com. It features good, homegrown acts like the Pauses, Sleepy Vikings, Sunbears! and King of Spain, alongside formerly local New Roman Times and Athens' Venice is Sinking.
In other, more local music festival news, the submission deadline to play the 10th annual Florida Music Festival is fast approaching (Feb. 28). If the mainstream is your demographic, apply now at floridamusicfestival.com.
Another night, another weird show at Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall (Feb. 15), this one helmed by local experimental duo Glen Runciter. To get a fix on their sound, refer to my use of the word "experimental" above. In their case, this means that it's more about performance art than a conventional concert. With drumming that resembled Lightning Bolt on training wheels and keyboards that sounded like a drunken guitarist, the bashed-out set seemed almost as improvised as it was rehearsed.
But, again, it's about the overall presentation. And the visual component consisted of a laptop playing Hannah Montana episodes and costumes, the most striking display being party boy Tim Murray cross-dressed Golden Girls-style. Although ostensibly channeling Bea Arthur, his impressively horrible ensemble of a ladies' sun hat and an animal-print jumpsuit was more of an OBT version of Blanche Devereaux. Throw in grimy face paint that's either good Rambo makeup or bad blackface? Sure, why not. So, if you're into the strange, this is the band for you. And on wardrobe alone, this performance wins.
Also playing was Bog Body, another two-piece project fronted by Glen Runciter member John Contos. Although he spent a lot of the time puzzle-faced, trying desperately to follow Contos' erratic playing, credit goes to drummer Greg Longshore for making an earnest attempt at imposing some kind of order. Even his evident skills weren't enough to wrangle this set into intelligibility, but it was one hell of an effort.
If you missed getting a free download card at the Loud Valley album release party (Feb. 16, Back Booth), you can score it on their Bandcamp page (loudvalley.bandcamp.com) for a paltry five bones. With a second permanent trumpeter on board, it really showcases the increasingly spaghetti-western edge that their live shows have been cultivating.
Just as big a deal was that this bill also featured Athens' Futurebirds, a band I'm completely infatuated with right now. With a dream-twang so layered and reverb-rich that you could swim in it, they embody the sweet marrow of traditional country music but with a forward-thinking rock attitude - like an old soul in new clothes. Such melodies, such sonics - this band is the complete package. They've really been working this town lately, so reward them with your attention so they keep coming back. Believe me, that's something we want because they're one of the best bands of the New South right now, and they haven't even really popped yet.
Well, local indie-pop band Mother Night has officially called it quits. Besides featuring a really good Thermals cover, their final show (Feb. 17, Will's Pub) was an upbeat sendoff for the hook-happy factory that used to be known as XOXO.
But there may be a saving grace in a new project currently in the works involving Mother Night's Noah Kussack and Kyle Raker - including Country Slashers' former frontman Jason Smith among others - seriously called the Motorboatin Boys. I've heard one of their punk-rollicking demos, and it's good enough to openly campaign for this band to actualize, especially for those who miss the Slashers' anthemic swagger.
Easily one of the evening's highlights was Boston's Pile, who kick out a noisy style of rock that's as meaty as it is melodic. Like heart-filled post-hardcore, their music is capable of a surprising range of mood and style. And they're the ideal band for people who like hard music but are capable of more than one mood.
With no fireworks or glitz, just solidly crafted indie rock, Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene (Feb. 13, Firestone Live) impressed in a tasteful, mature performance. In fact, their generous two-hour set was one of the better, most clear-sounding shows I've ever heard in this sometimes challenging venue.