Ten South Florida Albums that Tried to Change the World

The sweet, sweet sounds of SoFla

6.) Mary Karlzen, Yelling at Mary (1995)

We all know what happened with this one: Back in the mid-'90s, Atlantic Records signed up-and-coming Miami singer Mary Karlzen, promising her she was going to be the next big thing. Then, the story goes, they fucked her over and threw her away. Now, dusty old American tale-telling like Karlzen's may be tough to market, but whatever: Atlantic, mired in internal upheaval and business struggles, dropped the ball when it dropped Karlzen. Sure, the Tex/Mex tale "St. James Hotel" may come off as a girly ghost of Steve Earle, while "Dimestore Life" steals sentiments from Tom Waits' "Heart of Saturday Night." And despite her wholesome appeal and refusal to be silenced by the corporate sliming she suffered, there may be stronger female singer-songwriters policing the same district. But the hope South Florida music fans felt when a major label swept Karlzen off her feet -- and the letdown when she came crashing back to earth -- was an exhilarating ride just the same.

7.) Marilyn Manson, Smells Like Children (1995)

High on more than just life following his first pairing with industrial mogul and sugar-daddy Trent Reznor, little Brian Warner still had something to prove. A long way from the band's Fort Lauderdale breech birth as the Spooky Kids (now available on DVD!), the Smells Like Children EP shows how the band evolved from papier-mâché schlock to sci-fi trickery. Ghoulish, irreverent, twisted, and cartoonish, with unauthorized Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory samples and other verboten sound bites, this EP was actually neutered for public consumption. "Abuse (Pt. 1)" and "Abuse (Pt. 2)" were excised before it was officially released in October 1995, and most of the other offending material was deleted. Key word: Most. The sampled/spoken word piece "May Cause Discoloration of the Urine or Feces" is calculated to disturb moms across the country, while "Everlasting C***sucker" and "S****cky Chicken Gang Bang" aren't exactly, you know, for kids. Three covers ("Sweet Dreams," "I Put a Spell on You," "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger"), especially "Sweet Dreams," smell profoundly careerist, as if all involved knew that Manson couldn't become the bogeyman under America's bed without a Eurythmics song to clear the dust bunnies. Original promotional copies of Smells Like Children fetch big bucks on eBay. It reportedly remains the most bootlegged item in Manson's catalog.

8.) Trick Daddy, www. thug.com (1998)

As they come squished through his gleaming gold grill, Trick Daddy's words are hard to understand. But his message isn't: www.thug.com is a fearsome reality show, a hand-held view of the bottom end of the Dirty South. Still, his domain name, www.thug.com, paints Trick Daddy as mack daddy on "Stroke It Gently" and "I'll be Your Other Man" while blowing off steam on "So What" and "Nann Nigga." The latter track introduced the tough-as-gristle Miami rapper to urban airwaves, along with a foul vixen named Trina, who went on to eclipse her mentor with 2002's tight-ass joint Diamond Princess. Trick's still thuggin' and collaboratin' at a righteous rate, but log on to www.thug.com for the best summary of the man's mush-mouthed mystery.

9.) Puya, Fundamental (1999)

Rock en español's heavy-metal hybrids have produced plenty of proto-Sepultura thud-packers, but Fort Lauderdale's Puya really struck ganglions with its MCA debut, Fundamental. An explosive combination of crushing metal riffs, melodic bass lines, skewed salsa, and Spanglish vocals, this Latino rap-core touchstone didn't sell nearly what it should have. Puya's puertoriqueño vibe infuses "Oasis," "Sal Pa' Fuera," and "Retro" with timbales and horns for a sort of worldly-wise take on nu metal. Brazenly tinkering with such a formulaic and blinkered genre proves that Puya's got big balls, which didn't shrink even as its relationship with MCA soured. The unique and brave mix of Fundamental seemed to encapsulate a whole generation of Latin American anger, maybe not in the most erudite manner but with the speed and brutality needed to make its case. Nonpoint and others attempted, with varying degrees of success, to emulate this posture, but Puya was there -- and here -- first.

10.) Dashboard Confessional, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (2001)

More than slightly silly when seen through the rearview mirror, Dashboard Confessional allowed Boca Raton's Chris Carrabba to earnestly introduce emo-core to the entire country. Pubescent girls and MTV Unplugged all lined up to wring sleeves to The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most's pity-me party-poopers. At the height of the album's popularity (it scanned shitloads of copies, you know), only the hardhearted could stay unmoved as soft voices shored up the set list night after night. The hit single "Screaming Infidelities" inspired achy-breaky sing-a-longs from tough guys as well as their smarty-cute girlfriends. But TPYHCTFTM is of most use to adolescents enduring the pain of pulling off a recent breakup's Band-Aid over and over again. Enduring Carrabba's pain over and over again is a lot harder than it sounds.

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