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Best South Florida Music 2011: Mineo - Beach Season

County Grind is counting down 2011's best local albums in South Florida. Monitor our progress here.

Writing and singing about the sun could easily turn corny, but on Beach Season, Boca's Mike Mineo avoids falling into this by never trying to use the sun as a poetic device, or means to a further end. Rather, Mineo is singing about THE SUN. Minutes into the opening "Subtropic Sunrise" the listener realizes that Mineo knows the sun on a heart level, and is delivering his glorious vocal using its energy. Elsewhere he channels nightfall, human longing, and most importantly, joy.

The mood is joyful throughout the ten eclectic songs -- which could be collectively described as progressive, tropical, soul-pop. Whether he is singing about the day's first light peeking from beyond the oceanic horizon or challenging emotions, there is always a sense of humor present in his approach, which makes the music very fun to hang out with. Of course, Mineo's skillfulness and dedication, and that of the album's many contributors -- including Grammy nominated recording engineer and producer Matt Wheeler -- stand out just as much as the singer-songwriter's good attitude.

Mineo employs his limber voice creatively, confidently, and with wonderful feel. His sense of rhythm is deep and he sensitively merges his voice and guitar work, with the rest of the music as it moves through his unpredictable compositions. Within a given song, the band can evoke playful, Vampire Weekend-inspired pop, Stevie Wonder-style soul grooves, and spacious psychedelia. In an album full of fun and sweetness, one of its most transcendental moments comes in the featherlight harmonies of Mineo and his lady singers in "Beach Guava."

Beach Season is an exciting step forward from his 2010 debut Eccentricity. The wackiness still runs wild, but the follow-up is more refined in the writing, performance, and production. It is a more concise offering and the sound is top notch. Within Mineo's "Beach Season" is a mad, coming-genius at work and a primal force of nature exploding into space--with excellent accompaniment and direction. The result of the interplay is an album of extremely healthy and infectious tunes.

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Travis Newbill