Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: South Florida veteran musicians provide a welcome return.
For all my grousing about the lack of original music here in South Florida, I do have to admit that, over time, there have been some exceptional artists to emerge from our environs.
While national attention has eluded many of the more deserving, that in no way diminishes their efforts. It has prompted some of them to relocate in hopes of finding their fortune elsewhere. So while our loss is some other locale's gain, we can still point to them with pride and refer to them as exceptional alumni.
Finally, there's Tim & Adam's eponymous debut, a slightly psychedelic offering whose chirpy vocals and swirling set-ups bring to mind the Cocteau Twins, Tegan and Sara, This Mortal Coil, and others of that ilk. Both Tim and Adam are veterans of previous South Florida combos, Tim being a member of the Postmarks, and Adam a graduate of I Am Stereo. Oddly enough, their initial outing as a duo doesn't resemble the sound of either of their former acts in that it leans toward more celestial realms. Still, it does boast a strong set of contenders, among them the frenetic "Forest for the Trees" and the catchy "Candy Store." Discover more at timandadam.com.
A tireless and talented troubadour, Jim Camacho first made his mark in the Goods, a band that was widely acknowledged as one of the most impressive outfits to ever emerge from South Florida, circa the late '80s and early '90s.
The band's national exposure was short-lived, but Jim continues to exercise his abilities, splitting his time between Miami and New York City. The release of a new five-song EP Everywhere marks his first collection of all new songs since his critically acclaimed album Beachfront Defeat in 2009. He worked with a talented group of musicians on it, including co-producer, engineer, Forward Motion label chief and multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo (more about him later) and longtime drummer Jordan Welch.
Highlighted by its irrepressible opening track, "Big Little World," Everywhere provides yet another example of Camacho's extraordinary talents, skills he's honed in his recordings and concerts, as well as in his active involvement in theater, film, and television. The recipient of numerous awards -- including New Times kudos for Best Songwriter and Best Acoustic Performer, as well as recognition for best album of 2009 -- Camacho recently held a CD release party at the Van Dyke on Lincoln Road on Miami Beach which brought out several luminaries from the local scene, including the aforementioned Mr. Perdomo, the irrepressible Chris Alvy, and Rich Ulloa, long regarded as the patron saint of the local music scene.
Keep up with Camacho's array of activities at jimcamacho.com.
Like Mr. Camacho, Arlan Feiles was another of those venerable South Florida stalwarts who got his start under the auspices of an exceptional outfit, in his case, the band Natural Causes. Like the Goods, they were proteges of the late, legendary producer Tom Dowd, a man who spent a great deal of his career at Miami's own Criteria Studios.
However, after Arlan went solo, his output has been somewhat sparse. Now living in New Jersey, he's rebounded in recent years with two albums that show he's actually upped the ante in terms of his songwriting skills. The excellent Weeds Kill the Wild Flowers, released two years ago under the banner of Arlan Feiles and the Broken Hearted, shows him in a classic singer/songwriter mode, traveling terrain that falls midway between Elton John's piano balladry and the rugged everyman stance of heartland troubadours like Seger and Springsteen. That album followed the equally impressive Come Sunday Morning, a collection of stripped down songs that brings to mind the dusty designs of Woody Guthrie and early Bob Dylan.
Both efforts are exceptional and well worth investigating, and each proves he's long overdue for a place in the national spotlight. Hey Arlan, come on back and visit the homestead once in awhile. We miss you! Until he does, you can visit him at arlanfeiles.com.
Getting back to Mr. Perdomo. Although he's relocated to Los Angeles and seems to be making some real inroads into the industry out there, it's fair to say he's still one of our own, given that his roots remain in South Florida. Equally important, his Forward Motion record label continues as active as ever, with a steady stream of new releases by up and coming artists. The label's latest offering comes from singer/songwriter Melissa Thatcher, whose new Forward Motion release The Streets of Silverlake sounds like Kate Bush-meets-Judy Collins. A sumptuous pianist, she frames her bare-bones melodies as sprawling entreaties -- stark, sumptuous and resonating with emotion. The six song EP spotlights vibrant, operatic vocals that enhance the drama and stir the sentiment.
Check her out at forwardmotion.com.
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