After you hear a true punk frontwoman with this much intensity, it's impossible to go back to Paramore-quality frontwoman punk. Flees' lead singer/screecher Elyse Perez has all of the weapons of a Chrissie Hynde, a Kathleen Hanna, and even an Iggy Pop packed into her holster of a larynx. From the versatility of this South Floridian's pipes, she could probably sing opera, but she apparently preferred to get a bunch of tattoos and smoke more cigarettes. When someone so fierce tells you "Drink Me," it's not optional — it's something you should have done for her already. Aside from giving off a 'tude you won't trifle with or try to replicate, Perez can do it while looking quite scrumptious, dare we say. Perhaps we dare not, for fear of getting our timid asses handed to us.
MillionYoung's (AKA Mike Diaz) practically put the chill in chillwave with his billowy, midtempo electronica infused with distant vocals. This musical laptop wünderkind from Coral Springs has garnered many favorable reviews, and there's little doubt why after hearing his dreamy, tropical reworking of Mary Tyler Moore's theme "Love Is All Around." And considering Diaz's bookings this year — opening for British upstarts Two Door Cinema Club here in the States and traveling to points near and far in Europe during the summer — it looks like South Florida will have to share its soundtrack master with the rest of the world.
In some parallel universe, Jon Hunt and Jim Radford might be brothers — so alike and yet so different. In the real world, however, the family they share is the Art Institute, where Hunt currently teaches and where Radford taught not so long ago. Both traffic in a sort of cracked realism, although each puts such a different spin on it that the requisite comparisons and contrasts are often exhilarating. Hunt is a trippy postmodernist with a strong surrealist streak. Radford opts for neo-classicism. Together they make for a strange but satisfying symbiosis that this little exhibition cheerfully exploited.
There's an anger shared among old Communists — over their own blindness, over the hideous betrayals of Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot — that Gordon McConnell, as an aging and embittered English Marxist, captured perfectly. McConnell's rage seemed queerly particular: More in the way he glanced around the room than in anything he said. He seemed most of all angered that history has reached a moment when nothing much needs overthrowing. His was the anger of a brilliant and vibrant old man, itching for revolution just for the hell of it, and doomed to misery because it will never happen.
What we like about musicals is the music. What we don't like so much is all the silliness that so often accompanies it. The too-big emotions. The absence of character development or subtlety. The bombast. Well, Vices had none of that shit. It was all brilliant, catchy music with lyrics that were in turn moving, mysterious, creepy, and funny, tied together with thrilling modern dance, courtesy of A.C. Ciulla. Great stuff. Let's see more like it.
The vocal chops Delray Beach's Mike Mineo showcases on his debut album of eclectic pop, Eccentricity, almost make "blue-eyed soul" sound like an insult. First of all, Mineo's eyes are far too chestnut brown for that kind of comparison to pan out. Much like R&B revisionist Jamie Lidell, nothing Mineo does with his voice is completely rooted in the Stax sound, the Motown sound, or the Simon Cowell sound. You can tell that this self-identified goofball has heard and internalized enough of all three styles to be able to inflect flawlessly and tell a unique story through his cracked point of view. It's refreshing to hear someone with a gift for phrasing and wordplay who doesn't have to take himself too seriously either. Admittedly, he approaches Stevie Wonder's timbre on "Believe" — close enough to set off goose bumps. Once you start playing Mineo's music, it's hard to stop hoping to find that same sensation.
The title of this tiny show, which was shoehorned into the Art and Culture Center's smallest display space, is a nifty inside joke that works on multiple levels. First, there's no such artist as Balbone Martinez — the moniker melds the names of collaborators Michael Balbone and Emily Martinez. Then there's the subject matter of several of the works, which appropriate Christian iconography for subversive ends. And finally, there's an implicit dig at two subsets of contemporary museumgoers: literalists who analyze everything to death and the terminally clueless, who never quite seem to "get it." That's a lot of baggage, but these dozen words carry it quite handily.
Brash, ballsy, tuneful, and strange, the musical called Vices rolled back the years at the once-fusty old Caldwell Theatre and made it young again. It was written by a whole flock of songwriters: Michael Heitzman, Ilene Reid, Everett Bradley, and Susan Draus, from a book by Heitzman and Reid. They took on the loose theme of, you know, "vices." The play is a sometimes-violent clash of styles and sensibilities, sewn into cohesion by A.C. Ciulla's inventive, multidisciplinary choreography and director Clive Cholerton's unifying vision. It marked the beginning of a new era for the theater and opened up whole possibilities for the musical genre in general.
So — Laffing Matterz didn't face much competition for this commendation, but that doesn't mean it doesn't kick ass. One of a dozen extremely competent servers brings you a very-decent three-course meal, and then the whole wait staff mounts the stage for 90 minutes of raucous, topical song and dance that is politically acute and naughty enough to make the elder half of the audience blush. New Times' fave: a number in which the actresses morph into a troop of Broadway-obsessed Afghani ladies and then jazz-finger across the set in burqas, singing show-tune classics with Talibanized lyrics.
Always hustling, West Palm Beach's Schife and production partner OhZee have left an imprint on most of South Florida's major hip-hop albums released during the past two years. Rick Ross, Trina, DJ Khaled, and Trick Daddy have all employed Schife's machine-gun snares, booming bass, and insipid keyboard lines. On top of that, Schife can write a booth-clearing hook, and with a cigar-aged voice that can storm out a microphone, he often jumps on his productions as a performer. Additionally, Schife fronts his own group, Karbeen Mafia, featuring members Toe Down and G-Boi. As evidenced on the recently released No Nutz No Money mixtape, the group holds down some of the grittiest rhymes in the 954. As Schife says on "Getting to the Money," "Every time you see us in the building — it's going down."
"Getting to the Money" by Schife & Toedown (Karbeen Mafia):