South Florida's Ten Best Local Music Releases of 2015
A sampling of the local goods.
From hip-hop to garage-psych and everywhere in between, local musicians from all genres showed out in 2015, helping put our humble, homegrown scene on the map and defining South Florida as a spot to watch for truly ambitious, experimental, and accessible new music.
10. Lori Garrote, Subject to Change EP
Self-released April 9
The former singer of the New and AKA switched gears this year with the release of her solo EP, Subject to Change. With a tinge of grunge and Alanis Morissette-like vocals, Garrote pours emotion into each of her finely crafted songs. After growing jaded with handing out music she felt didn't truly represent her, the Miami-based musician began working on this gem of a debut that, in her words, reflects exactly how she felt at that point in her life. Working with Ferny Coipel of fellow Miami band Humbert allowed her to be hands-on and to have an overall interactive production experience. This positivity certainly shows in her songs, and her confident vocals shine through on each track. In "Undertow," she describes feeling overwhelmed in terms of a powerful ocean: "I cannot find my wave/Currents control my sway." Garrote has a way of painting common feelings through heartfelt lyrics and melodies, which is why she had one of the best releases of this year. — Olivia Feldman
9. Rick Ross, Black Market
Released December 4 via MMG/ Def Jam Recordings
While critics have given South Florida's Rick Ross fair ratings on his seventh studio album, Black Market, sales say otherwise. The 17-track effort to keep Maybach Music Group ahead of the game includes features from Nas, CeeLo Green, John Legend, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Future, the Dream, and DJ Premier, though it's managed to sell only about 65,000 units since its release earlier this month. While we nod our heads to singles "Dope Dick" and "Peace Sign," we can't help but wonder who Ross is sneak-dissing in "Color Money." The project took alleged shots at a handful of rappers and delivered a clear bullet to the heart to Slip-n-Slide Records, his first label. "Sorry," featuring Chris Brown, took over the airwaves, making it hard to get out of our heads, and "Ghostwriter" is a close runner-up as crowd favorite. Overall, Black Market is something to vibe to for the meantime. We will soon forget it once 2016 rolls around. — Cristina Jerome
8. Jangle Leg, Half Way There EP
Self-released May 8
From a one-man band to a Janglin' Duo to a full-fledged gaggle of swamp rockers, Lake Worth's Jangle Leg has seen much growth since lead singer Chuck Callaway started the project three years ago. Although Jangle Leg has been a longtime fixture in the South Florida music scene, Half Way There and the release of its first music video, "Rock Bottom," officially put the band on the map. Having five members has suited them well, giving their music a much fuller sound that Callaway long desired. Their first release is full of ditties about partying too hard, getting stranded on the side of the road, and just hanging out with the boys. Twangy bass lines from Marvin Ray Hawkins keep the music flowing, even with its dirty-country sound, and Felix Maldonado's banjo strums add powerful kicks that make you want to get up and dance. Jangle Leg's fierce spirit makes Palm Beach County proud. — Olivia Feldman
7. Shark Valley Sisters, Vera
Self-released February 24
Though Vera is very much an album of 2015 in the sense that it exists only as a digital release, the sounds that emanate from it hark back to yesteryear, right from its twangy opening cover of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole." Americana, blues, and straight-up Texan rock all rear their heads in the course of seven songs that elapse over 17 minutes. Though women's voices do make their presence on the album, most notably on the song "Opening (Sister's Lament)," the Shark Valley Sisters are comprised of two men who aren't even brothers. Singer/guitarist Rob Elba, formerly of the band Holy Terrors, narrates songs with a voice reminiscent of a more laid-back Dave Grohl, and drummer Fausto Figueredo (once of Load) pounds their beat into place. Vera has a noirish aura that would be a perfect soundtrack if ever there was to be a season of the TV series True Detective set in the Everglades. — David Rolland
6. Plastic Macca, Sensation and Is Here
Self-released April 14 via Dippy Records
After releasing five albums in six years with his band Ex Norwegian and before that under the name Father Bloopy, Roger Houdaille abruptly shifted his handle and turned his attention to a new project he dubbed Plastic Macca. (For those who are curious, the name is taken from the phrase tagged to the so-called "Paul Is Dead" conspiracy theories.) Not content to make a splash with one album alone, Houdaille released two albums simultaneously — Sensation and Is Here — and combined them on a single disc. As with his earlier outings, Plastic Macca's emphasis remains strongly pop, but this time around, the focus leans toward a more British rock varietal, with the Beatles, the Kinks, the Move, and the Who serving as templates. Looser and less structured than his previous material, Plastic Macca is awash with swooning harmonies and enticing melodies that are sublime and sumptuous and, not surprising, totally accessible. The 2015 double release enforces Hordaille's stature as one of the most proficient and prolific musicians in recent South Florida history. — Lee Zimmerman
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