It's not always obvious from what we're exposed to in this dance-centric part of the state, but Florida used to be a fairly reliable bastion for rock 'n' roll. Just check out the list of former homeboys the Allman Brothers, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Buffett, the Mavericks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Gram Parsons are but a few of the artists who emanated from the Sunshine State... and that list doesn't include all the geriatric rockers who migrated here to retire on their residuals. However, lest anyone think our rock fare is tied to rocking chairs, look only as far as the Ditchflowers, a rookie outfit spawned from two bands once considered Florida's finest. Ed Woltil, formerly of Drive Thru Church and the Headlights, and Brian Merrill, onetime leader of the nationally renowned Barely Pink, anchor this affable ensemble, whose debut album draws from the melodic influences of Paul McCartney, Squeeze, and Steely Dan. While Woltil writes most of the songs, both he and Merrill share the bulk of the singing and instrumentation responsibilities. Their 12-song set is effusive and accessible, with the limber shuffle and sway of "Home Away From Home," "My Next Life," "All the Time in the World," and "Spend My Life" guaranteeing an easy embrace. When Woltil and Merrill trade off vocals on "Hearts Caved In" or opt for a breezy ballad like "Boys" or cushion their harmonies on "Since I Met You" and "Aunt Marie," the Beatles-like banter is ever so obvious. So thank the Ditchflowers for affirming Florida's ability to nurture new music and Carried Away for providing their bright and sunny start-up.
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