1. SUFFOCATING HUMIDITY w/ Tumbleweave, Universal Expansion, The President (Aug. 4 @ the end; $??)
The President is Jason Handelsman, a talented experimental singer/songwriter with a litany of former projects who is also a former crack addict and Miami New Times staff writer. While Handelsman’s self-destructive past is now the stuff of Miami underground legend, the 38-year-old’s second album, Experience Sobriety (Roofless Records), is a major accomplishment of bare-bone recording, self-deprecating reconciliation, and home field loyalty.
Thursday night’s show will be a one-man “interactive” rock opera, a “15-20 minute song about the installation of drawings and found objects that will be on display in the gallery.” Handelsman has also put together a companion 60-page booklet of drawings and lyrics entitled “Untitled Rough Draft Manuscript for The President’s Reality Show”.
The child of West Palm’s incestuous music scene, Universal Expansion is made up of members of Guy Harvey, Cop City/Chill Pillars, and Weird Wives. The collective serves as a long-form experimental outlet for these talented WPBers, who, in their other outfits, walk a narrower sonic path.
Also from West Palm Beach, Tumbleweave’s Ben Mendelewicz and Matt Cutler describe their music as “jew wave”. Wiseass labels aside, this drum and synth duo ignore the waves entirely with the irreverent intensity of sound collage artists like Dan Deacon and Matmos.
2. Toxic Holocaust, Krum Bums, Holy Grail (Aug. 10 @ Churchill’s; $12)
Released in June, Conjure and Command is the most aggressive release to date by Portland, Oregon, thrashers Toxic Holocaust. Normally a one-man wrecking crew in the studio (as TH’s previous three albums), frontman Joel Grind teamed up with his touring band to record Conjure. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll stop dressing like a glammed-up Ramones cover band, but don’t count on it.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, The Krum Bums might be the metal-friendliest punk band you’ll ever see. Their brand of riotous melodic punk is capped off by unexpected screaming harmonies (they’re a 5-piece) and technically-gifted musicianship, something not always found (or wanted) in a punk band.
3. El Ten Eleven (Aug. 11 @ Bardot; $??)
Thanks to a buffet of pedals and some heavy looping, El Ten Eleven, an instrumental rock duo out of Los Angeles, will easily fool you into thinking they’re a much larger band. Most, maybe all, instrumental bands reach for atmospheric sounds and experimental noise to compensate for the lack of the vocal element. Not Kristian Dunn (double-neck combo bass/guitar) and Tim Fogarty (drums, acoustic/electric), two tech-savvy veterans who traffic in cohesive breakdowns without yielding to filler.
4. PLAINS, Little Beard, North&south (Aug. 12 @ Grand Central; $??)
Fresh off of the release of their s/t debut album and a mini-tour that included Chicago and New York dates, PLAINS should deliver a laid back, welcome-back kinda set. If for some reason you haven’t heard Plains yet, get thee to a set of headphones. As I said in my review, it may prove to be the best local album of 2011.
Little Beard have been on the scene for the better part of two years, but to date have only released a four-track digital EP (recorded by Guy Harvey’s Adam Perry and The Jameses’ Dan McHugh). The band’s brand of twee pop calls to mind originators like Tallulah Gosh, who were influence equally by ‘60s girl groups and The Ramones. Add a significant dose of shoegaze pop to the mix and Little Beard has accomplished an addictive blend of poppy old and hazy new.
North&south is an instrumental Miami trio that mimics the ebb and flow of Explosions in the Sky. While mimicry may be a product of unimaginative songwriting, the buried compliment here is they can play epic waves of atmospheric rock pretty well, as heard on their 7-song EP Ghost. Whether they can do so without sounding like another copycat band remains to be seen.
5. Shit Robot (Aug. 13 @ Grand Central; $15)
Dublin native Marcus Lambkin (aka Shit Robot), a frequent James Murphy collaborator and DFA Records artist, is headed to town to ease Miami’s LCD Soundsystem withdrawal with the varied textures, layered synths, and moderate tempos that make tracks like “Tuff Enough”, which features Murphy on vocals, sound like LCD songs. After releasing a couple of singles and EPs in four years, Shit Robot released his first full-length, From the Cradle to the Rave, in September 2010. The album featured Murphy and LCD cohort Nancy Whang along with Nation of Ulysses’ Ian Svenonius, The Juan Maclean, and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.
6. Purity Ring (Aug. 13 @ Bardot; $10)
If you love music that may give you a seizure, keep reading. Earlier this year, Purity Ring released its debut 7” (Transparent Records) “Ungirthed”, a song equal parts menacing android and helpless little girl. Purity Ring’s menacing android is Corrin Roddick of Gobble Gobble, and Megan James is the darling little voice weaving through the glitchy machinery. Since the 7”, they’ve reworked a couple of other artists’ songs like Disclosure’s “I Love…That You Know” and Hard Mix’s “Memories”. Purity Ring’s Bardot show is the first in a 16-stop tour through September before the band heads back on the road with Neon Indian and Com Truise for another 11 shows in October.
7. The Chant, Charlie Pickett (Aug. 13 @ Churchill’s; $8 presale, $10 door)
At the center of the local ’80s punk scene — along with contemporaries Charlie Pickett and the Eggs, The Eat, and the Psycho Daisies — The Chant was one of the best bands to ever come out of South Florida, playing punky swamp blues reminiscent of Johnny Thunders and The Gunclub. But The Chant moved to Atlanta just after releasing their debut, Three Sheets to the Wind, in 1986.
“Miami was in the throes of yet another period where all the original music clubs had closed,” says lead singer Walter Czachowski, who never left Georgia. “Atlanta was happening then and it was still within shouting distance of home.”
After 12 years, The Chant disbanded in 1996 when guitarist Gregory Dean Smalley’s suffered an AIDS-related death. This last March, after 15 years, Czachowski and company played their first reunion show in Atlanta. Pickett then convinced Czachowski to come back to his old stomping grounds.
“Charlie called us up in May and insisted we come down and do a show with him,” Czachowski says. “We’re only doing this for fun. And it will be, count on it.”
8. Summer of Weirds II (Aug. 19 @ Churchill’s; FREE)
The second annual Churchill’s throwdown once again features all sorts of musical wackos. Although you’ll assuredly have to endure a healthy portion of shitty sets, you’ll also see hahahelp!, This Heart Electric, Pockets of Lollipops, Ant Parade (Tampa), Snakehole, and Luma Junger. A once-monthly event, Summer of Weirds is a great way to discover new sounds. Though I didn’t attend last year, I ended up hearing about Hear Hums and Viking Funeral from people who had gone. My money’s on Ballscarf to pick up a few fans.
9. Alison Krauss and Union Station (Aug. 20 @ The Broward Center for Performing Arts; $55.55)
Damn that’s a steep ticket, but damn Paper Airplane is an incredible album. Released in April, Paper Airplane is Krauss’s first album with Union Station backing in seven years. Krauss’s last release was Raising Sand, a collaborative effort with Robert Plant that won a Grammy in 2009 for Album of the Year. Paper Airplane is an introspective affair with meditations on love, loss, and regret. The Union Station return is just as important as Krauss’s gorgeous wail, as they provide Krauss (and us) with a strong full sound that should translate to an amazing concert. Her translation of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day” is pure poetry.
10. Silkie (Aug. 25 @ The Vagabond; $??)
I’ll preface this entry by admitting that dubstep is not high on my musical totem pole (stop hitting me). That said, Silkie’s City Limits Vol. 2 has had a stable spot in my rotation since its June release and may have expanded my mind a bit. The London producer pours a sophisticated palette of samples into the cavernous bass for which the genre is known. Silkie incorporates prominent melodies and a footing in jazz to create a sexier breed of dubstep.
+1. Shroud Eater, Bulletproof Tiger, Wolfhunter (Aug. 27 @ Beezlebub’s Café; $5)
Billed as a “Sexy Saturday soiree”, this sludgy metal showcase is actually a must-see for Miami metalheads. If you still haven’t seen or heard Shroud Eater yet, punch yourself in the face. They are two-thirds metal beauty in Jean Saiz (guit/vox) and Janette Valentine (bass) steeped in late-80s/early-90s stoner metal. Felipe Torres on the drums ain’t bad either. Livid Records’s Bulletproof Tiger is perhaps Miami’s most underrated punk band. They rightfully describe their sound as a “child death rattle” and their volume may just kill you. Be sure to give Wolfhunter a hearty metal welcome as they come to town from Naples.