After a quiet 2011, West Palm Beach’s The Band in Heaven (TBIH) started off the new year with a fantastic albeit horrifying music video (below) and a 7” vinyl released on Jan. 20 by HoZac Records, whose catalogue includes releases by Blank Dog, Black Lips, Dum Dum Girls, Davila 666, Mark Sultan, UV Race, and South Florida’s Teepee and Jacuzzi Boys. The Chicago label was seduced by TBIH’s slow-burn drone and the disturbing images that Alice Cohen wove together for the trio’s “Sleazy Dreams” video.
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.