A Year in South Florida SoundsA Year in South Florida Sounds

Some top local albums from 2009.

Below is a selection of New Times music writers' favorite local albums from 2009. This is by no means exhaustive and appears in random order. For the full list, visit Crossfade, New Times' music blog, at blogs.miaminewtimes.com/crossfade.

The Pretty Faces

Another Sound (self-released)

myspace.com/theprettyfaces

Another threesome leading the new fresh wave of Palm Beach County bands, the Pretty Faces are Canadian expats whose transplanted sunny Boca environs seeped into their feel-good vintage rock. Take jangly, '70s-style power pop, add sweet male-female tradeoff vocals from a foxy young husband and wife (awww, gag!), and shake and stir with a barroom swagger. Voilà, Another Sound, a fun album that's still shot through with a piquant, bittersweet mood that's great for those existential hangovers. "Right On the Money" especially deserves frequent rotation. ARIELLE CASTILLO


Surfer Blood

Astro Coast (self-released/Kanine Records)

myspace.com/surferblood

After only a handful of months playing under this band name, the West Palm Beach quartet (now a quintet) struck upon a magical indie-rock formula in the studio in the middle of last year. The band crafted tender melodies over scuzzy guitar riffs and unpredictable bombast; the result would become the brilliant debut LP Astro Coast. Somehow these fresh-faced kids, barely out of their teens, managed to cull the best parts of our favorite '90s bands. There is Weezer's youthful post-punk glee, for one, as well as the Jesus and Mary Chain's Beach Boys-through-distortion hiss. It's all packaged and sealed into one phenomenal album. Songs like "Slow Jabroni" — with its wall of reverbed vocals over addictive hooks — and "Catholic Pagans"— exquisite quiet-loud-quiet Pixies catharsis —hint at the enormous potential these South Florida youngsters have. It's no wonder this originally self-released album was snatched up by major label Kanine Records and will be released nationally come January 19. ALEX RENDON


The Shakers

Good Enough (self-released)

margatepunkrock.com

If you grew up during the '90s and are nostalgic for the new-school punk sound — before it became completely spineless — check the by-now-classic Margate punk band the Shakers. The sound is reminiscent of so many acts from the Warped Tour's early days, complete with tunes about suburban disenchantment ("Suburban Prison"), the school board ("PTA Mom," which includes lyrics like "PTA mom put a ban on drugs, PTA mom put a ban on guns, PTA mom put a ban on fun... Fuck you, PTA mom"), and being, what else, "Seventeen Again." The band's latest album, Good Enough, falls somewhere between a raspy version of Fenix TX and the Bouncing Souls, buzzing with major chords, rapid-fire drumming, and the gruff vocals of lead singer Pat Stahl. It would behoove the youngsters around the area to check out what punk is, or, rather, what it was about a decade ago. ERICA K. LANDAU


Stonefox

Back on the Wire (self-released)

myspace.com/stonefoxmusic

We've waxed rhapsodic enough about Stonefox, so we'll keep this short. This dark-horse record from deepest Boca pretty much blows the rest of the tricounty area's real rock 'n' roll out of the water (OK, so the fourth guy actually lives in Atlanta). The band's rollicking, bluesy riffs boil with punk energy and attitude, achieving a rare musical balance that appeals to hipsters and bikers alike. ARIELLE CASTILLO


Panic Bomber

Getting on My Mind (self-released)

panicbomber.com

Panic Bomber is the brainchild of Miami's one-man dance spectacle, Richard Haig. He first gained local notoriety as showman keyboardist for Miami prog rockers the Jeanmarie until he grew tired of being in an indie band. One listen to his debut solo electro-techno-disco concoction Getting on My Mind and there's no question Haig's made the right move. He's definitely a true madman on the synths: Check out his orchestral-electro work on "A Giant Tortoise." But he also demonstrates a versatile vocal range too, going from piercing Bee Gees-style falsettos one minute to a baritone croon the next on the album's title track. His accessible lyrics add a personal touch that will win over those pensive college-radio types as well. ALEX RENDON


Mr. Entertainment and the Pookiesmackers

¡Socialismo Americano! (self-released)

myspace.com/mrentertainmentandthepookiesmackers

A staple of South Florida's musical community for more than a decade, Mr. Entertainment and the Pookiesmackers traverse psychedelia, Latin rhythms, and pop rock. This time around, they infuse their sound with leftist concepts and an album-cover homage to Sgt. Pepper's on their fourth album, ¡Socialismo Americano! The two standouts on the record start with "The Looker," a fun, memorable song with touches of classic rock, alternative, and Latin rhythms with breezy vocals. Then there's "Center of the Universe," which sounds like a slowed-down take on "Back in the U.S.S.R." Palatable and poppy, it will be stuck in your brain for days. The rest of the record retains the whimsical qualities of these songs and covers topics such as Miami-Dade County Jail and war, keeping with the politically charged theme of the album. ERICA K. LANDAU


Murderous Rampage

Murderous Rampage (self-released)

myspace.com/murderousrampage444

Metal group Murderous Rampage is as hilarious as it is brutal. The overall aesthetic can be gleaned from videos featuring mannequins turned into zombies and a number titled "Eating Drinking Shitting" (those words pretty much make up all the lyrics of the song too). Lyrically, the songs navigate the absurd — "Programmed to Kill" includes the lines "We're gonna kill you, we're gonna eat you, we're gonna eat your heaaaad." Musically, the band revs up with fist-pumping choruses, thrash-metal riffage, and Tommy Newman's guttural vocals for a loud, gritty, short-and-sweet punch in the face. Fun fact: Lead singer and horror aficionado Newman recorded the vocals for the album in the nude. ERICA K. LANDAU

 
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