Radioboxer, which formed right here in the Magic City from the remnants of a previous incarnation called Falaz, has earned a strong fanbase around town thanks to their honesty and sincerity. And of course, because they really rock out. The band crafts alternative yarns built on thoughtful storytelling, while still grinding out distorted chops and meandering through dreamy, noodling melodies.
Recorded in the City of Progress' very own The Shack North Studios, this 12-track album varies stylistically from song to song, but remains cohesive in its unrelenting shimmering. "Radio Broke My Heart" charges along until the chorus whisks you to a No Doubt show circa '92. "Placebo Effect" haunts with breathy vocals and quirky synths. "The Killer" is a song befitting a soundtrack -- Desperado, perhaps. "Don't Shoot at Me" is a melodic acoustic ballad with pointedly clever lyrics. And those are only a few highlights. -- Christopher Lopez
Ours For The Taking (JMB Records)
Look past the complicated MySpace presence, deliberately goofy promo photos, hell, even the hair of this Miami threesome. Jacobs Ladder is not yet another color-by-numbers pop-punk band. Sure, in some of the tunes there are hints of that genre's penchant for choral whoa-oh-ohs and sweeping melodies, just made for crowd clap-a-longs. How else would this band be so wildly popular on the national all-ages circuit, which it's traversed for basically the past three straight years?
But listen to the whole of this self-released EP, produced by New Found Glory's Cyrus Bolooki. The hookiness eventually gives way to some real band-nerd weirdness. (In fact, the threesome first formed back in 2002, when all were rock ensemble players at Beach High). There is interplanetary prog, astral reggae, even a tiny bit of vaguely jazzy noodling. Somehow, it all works out into a tight, bright thing that translates into high-octane live shows that sail along on waves of good vibes. This record is a worthy snapshot of it all. -- Arielle Castillo
Pussy Rot EP (Self-Released)
Typically, Dade County's musical rep is all about rappers, electronic stuff, and super-polished indie jangle. But more and more, there seems to be a twisted parade of locally grown experimenters, extreme freaks, and serious weirdoes swarming the scene at places such as Sweat Records, Churchill's, and the American Legion. Few among these newborn noiseniks, however, are odder, darker, or more unpredictable than Miami-based psychedelicists Ice Cream.
Thus far, the only recorded document by these inner-city Floridian creeps is a six-track slab called the Pussy Rot EP. If pressed for a description, you could characterize it as the collected midnight screams of undead evil hippies risen from the primordial muck of the Everglades. Or, maybe, a long, terrifying zoom into the hairy depths of Satan's throat. Either way, there's no denying the joyfully deranged power of bad trip sing-alongs like "Little Children," "Oh," "Meadow Where the Sun Was Born," "W.H.O.R.E.S.," "Destroy All Planets," and "When Hell Swallows the Kids." This Ice Cream crap is scary good. -- S. Pajot
Before It's Too Late (Self-released)
Much like the flesh-eating protagonists of its songs, the debut by Boca Raton's Zombies! Organize!! packs quite a bite. Its marriage of crunk-y breakbeats with homages to the walking undead left us in a voodoo spell for most of 2009. Truly, the trio's homemade full-length is unlike anything else we've heard this year. Songs like "Trioxin" and "Zombie Manifesto" play like out like hybrids of Night of the Living Dead with L'Trimm's "Cars That Go Boom." Pro-Tools whiz Lil' Bobby Deadie is the master behind all the eight-bit booty shake loops heard here, like on the dryly named "I Like Turtles." Then there are lead vocalist MF Mars' rapid-fire, helium-pitched, foul-mouth rhymes; try imagining what Betty Boop would sound like as a horrorcore MC. It's the sugar on top that gives this ghoulish bass its unfettered zip. -- Alex Rendon
Dreaming in Stereo
Dreaming in Stereo (Dying Van Gogh Records)
Under the new name Dreaming in Stereo, local whiz kid Fernando Perdomo proves that he's a genuine one-man band, a master of reliable hooks, deep textures, and instrumental arrangements that enable these melodies to soar. Likewise, his lyrical twists offer a knowing view of the music biz and the various pitfalls that otherwise snag the unsuspecting. "Steal This Song" rails against the blight of illegal downloads, while "I'm Not Gonna Move to L.A." affirms his loyalty to the South Florida scene. That's admirable, but considering the savvy and strengths shown here, he's certain to snare success regardless of where he resides. - Lee Zimmerman