The area's music community is down another esteemed member in Brett Tanner, who just lost his battle with cancer. I didn't know the drummer personally but I know his thundering work with the exceptionally ferocious Junior Bruce, and it's truly our loss.
Although that's a devastating hit, what's up this week is the national dialogue about our scene down here. While Vice stunk Orlando up the week before, Paste magazine sorta came correct on the record for Florida music in their 50 States Project series. Although my own personal list of "10 Florida bands you should listen to now" would look pretty different, this list – which includes Orlando's Day Joy and Levek – does not suck.
On the festival front, full details on the next edition of the avant-garde-minded Accidental Music Festival (accidentalmusicfestival.com, Nov. 8-18) won't be announced for another few weeks or so, but it's shaping up to be significantly grander than last year's ambitious debut. This time, event father Christopher Belt has officially involved Deerhoof. Wow.
Enigmatic new local band Boy Division caused some palpable rumblings in the belly of the city's underground with one of the most buzz-thick debuts in some time (Aug. 6, Peacock Room). Emerging in an aura of intrigue before a full and fully piqued crowd, they ripped a charged performance of their so-called "death wave," a dark, wiry merge of post-punk and New Wave. As their moniker amply suggests, their thing is more than a little inspired by Joy Division with the singer channeling Ian Curtis in a slavishly convincing way. The songs posted on their Bandcamp page are titillating but, live, they roar with even better, louder guitars. It's been a while since anyone's made bleakness this electric and, in sum, they're a pretty exciting package.
Immediately after, I ran straight downtown to watch Dirty Projectors (the Beacham) to see if they might somehow click more with me face to face. Alas, no thunderbolt of clarity. The added size and energy of the live show helped, and they're a talented band, but it still didn't connect all the way for me. Perhaps this band and I will never be perfect dance partners, but it's difficult to argue that their music isn't tremendously willful in its intellectualism and experimentation. While that may occasionally yield moments of surprise or even genius, it can also be the antithesis to intuition and soul.
Jason Ferguson discussed in last week's paper how weird and unorthodox Lindsey Buckingham's approach to pop craft was, and he's absolutely right. But after seeing Buckingham's performance (Aug. 7, the Plaza Live), all I have to say is that he at least lands mostly in all the right places, something I can't say about Dirty Projectors' self-consciously oblique ways. Transmit all that pop instinct through his exceptionally bright expression and you've got something special. And seeing it live and up close is exactly that.
Although I've got to admit ignorance on much of Buckingham's solo stuff, I do know how definitive he was in the prime years of Fleetwood Mac. And besides his remarkably intact guitar heroics, most impressive and moving is the fact that he still has the fire in his belly and in his heart. That's a beautiful thing to see from such an accomplished artist at this phase of his career. Yes, he's a master performer at this point, but he still feels the full rapture up there. The Plaza brings another impressive master to the stage.
Chicago's Russian Circles always kill live (Aug. 11, Will's Pub). But apparently I wasn't the only one eager for a first live glimpse of L.A. opener Marriages. Using a similarly heavy rock reference point as their parent band Red Sparowes, the trio's drama-rock is a dance of elegant despair that rolls in black as midnight and with the weight of a hundred atmospheres. Emma Ruth Rundle's mournful, unsettled vocals are melodic in a way that often seems less intent to charm your ears than to claw your soul. Motoring it all were Greg Burns' deep bass lines, which throb with a patient insistence that seems without beginning or end. And they completely wowed the packed room.
And speaking of Los Angeles, good luck there, Dwight. Don't worry about getting lost, big boy. Shaq's already paved that road for you.