Amid a heavy touring schedule, synth soother Judson Rogers — stage name: Sumsun — has released Avey Oliver, a new EP via Halocyan Records. Available now on iTunes and due out on vinyl in February, the five-track release features “New Piano”, a song with the gentle-sun, receding-tide, drum-circle ambiance that both pegs Rogers as a South Florida native and makes him a coveted party starter wherever his turntables take him. Here’s the new video for “New Piano”, which somehow emits the scent of sea breeze when you listen to it on full volume.
The final digital single in the beko 100, “Water Shadows” is yet another transporting aural experience crafted by Sumsun, the stage name of West Palm Beach-based electronica artist Judson Rodgers. As mentioned in the Miami Music Guide, Sumsun will be performing live with Millionyoung (aka Mike Diaz) at the Vagabond on Friday, April 13 (full details). Until then, close your eyes and wade into “Water Shadows”.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, Beached Miami is presenting a tri-county showcase on the Electric Pickle’s soothing back patio with Sumsun from West Palm Beach, Can’t Stop and The State Of from Miami, and Honey Train from Fort Lauderdale. DJs Rich Medina, Tim Green, Brad Strickland, and William Renuart will also be on hand to man the decks indoors. For full details on the show, visit the Facebook event page. Here are a few words about each of the bands.
Sumsun: Spearheaded by West Palm Beach native Judson Rodgers, Sumsun creates electronic soundscapes with a chillwave palette that transport listeners to a land where the rain is warm and everyone dances. In 2011, Sumsun opened for Neon Indian and Sleigh Bells.
Thursday was a good day for South Florida music. First up, Miami’s Jacuzzi Boys made a big splash by signing to Hardly Art, the label home of retro-rock acts and art rockers like Hunx & His Punx, Fergus & Geronimo, and Carissa’s Wierd. Already with a 12” live vinyl release on Jack White’s Third Man Records (get it here), the Jacuzzi Boys now find themselves in a more permanent musical home with huge possibilities. Seattle-based Hardly Art is the sister (daughter, really) label of major indie player, Sub Pop Records, which is 49 percent owned by Warner Bros. Needless to say, distribution shouldn’t be a problem.
Kicking off their tour tonight in Atlanta, the Boys will head into Michigan’s Key Club Studios as soon as next week to start recording their Hardly Art debut. From the label’s website: “The next full-length LP from the Jacuzzi Boys will be released on Hardly Art this fall. If 2010 was any indication, 2011 is the year the Jacuzzi Boys come busting out of the tropics, naked as the gator and twice as toothy.”
Call it signing-day optimism, but even as toothy as a gator sounds promising.
Congrats to WVUM 90.5 (aka “The Voice” aka “Keep It Locked”) for bringing home mtvU’s coveted Woodie for Best College Radio Station. MTV walked in on the unsuspecting station Thursday afternoon to announce the good news. Not a network to waste genuine human emotion, MTV will air WVUM’s reaction to their win when the Woodies broadcast live from SXSW on March 16. (Expect a CGI Charlie Sheen to make an appearance.)
Last night Zitfest kicked off at the Orange Door in Lake Park, which is about 60 miles and a quarter of a tank of gas north of Miami proper. If this were a local event, the decision to go would be a no-brainer. The lineup includes many of South Florida’s best bands, including the Jacuzzi Boys (who played a great set last night) and the Jameses, Guy Harvey, Sumsun, the Dewars, and Plains (all on today’s roster). Beyond that, the ticket is cheap ($7 for one day) and the beer is, too. But before you decide to venture across two county lines, you should know that Zitfest does not meet the full definition of a “fest”. It is confined to a bar in a strip center alongside railroad tracks — i.e., there are no festival grounds — and there is only one food vendor. Zitfest’s only legitimate claim to being a fest at all is its lineup of stellar bands, which of course is the most important part. My point here is that Zitfest is not for the blasé festival goer looking to catch a little music and re-up on hemp anklets. But if you’re game for drinking beer and rocking out all day, go.
Here are some pics from last night.
Listen: Zitfest starts tomorrow night, and for the couple of reasons you may not be planning to go — the name grosses you out, the venue is an hour-plus north of Miami — there are plenty of really good reasons you should make the schlep. First of all, the lineup is stacked with many of South Florida’s best bands (even with Lil Daggers dropping out), some of which are on the verge of bursting (like zits — get it?). These include several members of the West Palm Beach contingent (the Jameses, Sumsun, Cop City/Chill Pillars, Dewars, Guy Harvey, The Band in Heaven), the Jacuzzi Boys, and the Vivian Girls-approved girl band Snake Hole. All told, the Zitfest I lineup is responsible for six of the top 10 tunes on our SoFla songs of 2010 list, so you know you’re in for some good listening.
The one substantial argument against attending all of Zitfest is Rachel Goodrich’s Saturday night so-long show at Jimbo’s on Virginia Key. Honestly, we might sacrifice Zitfest’s superb Saturday night lineup to make it over to Jimbo’s for what promises to be a euphonious, open-air farewell. But it is a hard call, especially with the one-two punch of Guy Harvey and the Jameses taking the stage close to midnight over at the Orange Door.
So, what is a South Florida music lover to do? The answer is smile. Having to decide between damn good music over here and damn good music over there is a damn good dilemma — and a new one at that. Other cities should be so lucky. Nonetheless, as Dubya would say, what we have here is a decision point. Where are you headed? Here a few videos to help you decide.
This has been a very important year for South Florida music, with no shortage of spectacular acts, songs, and albums coming out of the scene. Yes, South Florida has a scene now, and finally one with some damn good homegrown music as its foundation (thanks in large part to the crop of stellar West Palm Beach talent). Besides the Jameses’ Pitchfork debut and the Dewars release of Songs from the Neverglades — one of my favorite albums of the year — we also saw the emergence of Jared McKay and Colin Foord’s Discosoma Records, the continued forward thinking of Lolo Reskin’s Sweat Records (which is bringing No Age back to Miami again in January), and Surfer Blood’s “Swim” getting re-released on Rough Trade Records. All in all, as Frank would say, it was a good year. To celebrate it, and South Florida’s evolving music culture, here are my favorite 15 SoFla tracks of 2010.
15. “Vampire” by Axe and the Oak – While every song from their Record Store Day 2010 EP is dripping with greatness, “Vampire” attains the heights of Franz Ferdinand cum Bauhaus. It isn’t the best track on the 6-song EP (see below), but it is most representative of what makes this trio tick.
14. “Greenpoint” by BFGF – Like most of Chris Video’s music, this song dares you not to shake, wiggle, and bob. With “Greenpoint”, BFGF takes sinister aim at EDM, plucking and placing goth rock elements within their usual synthetic landscape.
Indie darlings Surfer Blood may seem the exception in West Palm Beach, a town better known for harboring the nation’s oldest gefilte fish consumers than producing great music. But fortunately for us, the reverb-spewing quintet is part of a crop of talented West Palm Beach bands — including the Dewars, the Jameses, Sumsun, the Hear Hums, singer-songwriter Evan Mui, The Band in Heaven, Cop City/Chill Pillars (as well as their tamer side project, Love Handles), Guy Harvey, and Weird Wives — all of whom know and support each other.
And while a “scene” usually signifies a single style of music, West Palm Beach isn’t pinned to one genre. Far from it. From ambient freak-folk to chill electronic to revamped post-punk to supersonic pop rock, the music scene up north isn’t easily boxed in. But it is easily enjoyed. To get you on your way, here is a closer look at several of the bands making damn good music only about an hour north of Miami. With Zitfest I coming up on Dec. 17, you might want to get acquainted with the West Palm scene in a hurry.
With the release of Songs From the Neverglades this year, the Dewars’ proved themselves one of the most interesting pop music bands to come out of South Florida. Ever. “Playground Mediasma” would sit comfortably in Beck’s catalogue, “Pete the Pedophile” aligns right with Grizzly Bear’s acid-slumber rock, “If the World Was Gonna End Today” signals the Kinks — always a good thing — and “Keep Down the Noise Boys” won’t leave my head despite its relative mediocrity.
Track after track, twin brothers Anthony and Zac Dewar traverse the pop of today and yesterday and still manage to have a sound of their own. Now home after touring the U.S. with Surfer Blood, the Dewars are in the process of recording their second six-song EP. The release date is still up in the air, and a few unidentified labels have expressed interest in releasing the band’s new material.