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Subtropical Spin

Two of the most outstanding -- and outstandingly named -- punk-rock outfits to emerge from the late-'80s/early-'90s South Florida scene were Chickenhead and the Funyons. Chickenhead released a solid seven-inch on Emil Busse's Fourandahalf Records and a great song about assassinating Fidel Castro ("Young Fidel") on the Lookout!/Kill Rock Stars Slice of Lemon compilation. Though there was plenty of talk of a record tentatively titled The Funyons Versus South Beach coming out, it never actually did. What the Funyons did do, however, was get hassled and arrested by numerous South Florida police agencies for taking their acoustic guitar/trash percussion punk to the streets of Miami. And there was the DIY concert at Wrigley Field before a ballgame that will be etched into many a Chicagoan's mind for eternity.

So in Onion Flavored Rings, we have drummer Eric Lyle, formerly Iggy Scam of Chickenhead, and guitarist Steve Milano of the Funyons joining forces with bassist Paul Curran of Bay Area überpunk outfit Crimpshrine. And whaddaya know -- they've made one of the best punk-rock albums of the year. Milano's self-deprecating approach to songwriting about girls, science, and doom rides along with Lyle and Curran's rock-hard rhythm section to yield quirky yet deeply satisfying songs that blur the lines among folk, country-fried garage, and pop-punk. All 12 two-minute tracks are well-executed and fully realized, proving that past musical stints for the unit were not ill-spent. Soft, midtempo numbers like "Venus" and "To the Grave" balance well the aggro-prop of slightly harsher tunes "Positively Treat Street" and "Laughing." Imagine Blythe Power and Ani DiFranco without the pretentiousness. Lyle and Milano have been longtime Florida expatriates, but it's nice to see them rekindling ties by releasing this record through Gainesville's No Idea Records. Two Minutes' Enlightenment makes it easy to keep their music in mind, though their physical presence is dearly missed.

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Abel Folgar

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