South Florida's Ten Best Local Releases of 2010

The methodology for this list was simple: Any local recording that made a huge impact in 2010 would be considered. This included EPs, mixtapes, Mediafire .zip files, Bandcamp profiles, split cassettes, and ringtones. Music consumption in South Florida shouldn't be confined by technicalities or "official release dates" — that would be lame. And yeah, we still love the Surfer Blood dudes, but Astro Coast already got props last year.

Based upon feedback from readers and our regular freelancers, what follows is heavily biased and heavily entertaining commentary about what comprised our schizophrenic South Florida scene in 2010.

Sumsun — Samo Milagro

Sumsun's Samo Milagro  will  make  your ears gleam.
Lorraine Cornillie
Sumsun's Samo Milagro will make your ears gleam.

The story behind Judson Rogers' first full-length is chock-full of subcultural trivia, travel stories, and leaked singles. "Samo" is a reference to both Jean-Michel Basquiat's former tag name and the location of the Greek Tunnel of Eupalinos, for example. Judson wrote some of the album in what he describes as the "beautiful" local climate and the rest while working on an apple orchard in North Carolina. All of it fed gems like "Ants" and the whirring, danceable glow of "Call It Home."

With a palette of such colorful influences, playing Samo Milagro on your headphones feels like your ears are gleaming. Sumsun's lush, bounce-heavy rhythms — perhaps designed for a disco somewhere in space — are sharply cut here, though he loses none of that head-in-the-clouds dreaminess that defined his preceding singles. "Whales," at the album's midpoint, has a slowly dropping backbeat reminiscent of Sade, a waterfall of delicately rippling synth, and enough soul to be one of the album's most languid and scorching moments. Monica Uszerowicz

Afrobeta — Do You Party? EP

Although Miami duo Afrobeta has long been a favorite on the local party circuit, 2010 saw production mastermind Tony Smurphio and frontwoman Cuci Amador bust out to the big time. This meant a spot on a main stage at last spring's Ultra Music Festival and a trip through Europe that included a gig in Ibiza alongside Booka Shade.

A deal with Do It Music Group yielded the short but punchy EP, Do You Party? After earlier releasing frothy freestyle, Afrobeta's eight tracks here (three of which are remixes) add heft to the low-end, with Smurphio often beefing up his beats into electro-house territory.

Stretching her vocal capabilities, Amador raps, sings, and even screams on "Play House." "Two Different Worlds," meanwhile, is a breathy ballad that swims through new wave while threatening to bubble over into a banger. If this is just a taste, the full-length, due out next year, should fully propel the band into the international dance music stratosphere. Arielle Castillo

Beings — Beings

Beings blends elements of punk-rock, shoegaze, and heavy-ass rock together in a classic and catchy album for the ADD generation. From the cavernous opening of "Naysayer" all the way through the epic closing track, "Fire Goddess," these eight songs take the listener on a schizophrenic and psychedelic trip.

With a work ethic centered around brainstorming and "everything goes" experimentation, Miami's Ivan Marchena, Mike Nela, and Betty Monteavaro write songs with more movements and melody than a Brahms composition. Engineered by Torche's Jonathan Nunez, the drums are heavy and booming, the bass is melodic and driving, the vocals are urgent and borderline taunting, and the guitars are from outer space. Highlight "Zombie" begins like an army of cavemen on amphetamines clubbing a woolly mammoth to oblivion, eventually rockets into the jet age, and then ceremoniously crash-lands on Earth, unscathed. Jose Flores

The Dewars — Songs From the Neverglades EP

The Dewars' six-song EP, Songs From the Neverglades, is one of the most off-center offerings we heard this year, but we would not change one bizarre-o minute of it. Ranging from the breezy freak-folk heard on "Strange Change," to the demented wobble-rap-versed funk of "Playground Mediasma," this collection of askew songs from the twin brother-fronted outfit proved to be a dark-humored, multitrack splendor.

With their matching vintage glasses and clashing wardrobes, Anthony and Zachary Dewar masterfully hone in on Leonard Cohen's idiosyncratic high baritone and channel Syd Barrett's lyrical wanderlust as well, while demonstrating an unabashed adoration for '60s pop that would pair it nicely with Elephant 6 bands like the Olivia Tremor Control or Neutral Milk Hotel. "The Noise Boys" is the group's pièce de résistance, beginning with phantasmagoric whisperings that crescendo into the refrain, "Keep down the noise boys"; it is the ultimate battle cry for bands having to deal with pesky neighbors. Alex Rendon

Mayday — Stuck On an Island

Lil Wayne's buddies Plex Luthor and Bernbiz, originators of Miami hip-hop powerhouse Mayday, recently beefed up the group's lineup with battle star Wrekonize, and a stellar cast of live musicians — even a conga player. This proved to be the magic formula for Mayday, which over the last couple years has climbed back up to the top of the heap.

The hunger and fierceness is palpable on the group's most recent album, Stuck On an Island, a 19-track whopper that, of course, traffics in funky hip-hop anthems like the title track. But it also displays a broad stylistic bent in the deeper cuts. "Picture Perfect," for instance, features Slip N Slide chanteuse Shonie and comes off as a female-friendly slab of moody soul. "Worst Case Scenario," meanwhile, features the Money Making Jam Boyz and is nominally a rap song, but is really built on aggressive, distorted guitar. Arielle Castillo

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