This Little Underground 

Our live music columnist celebrates Relief in Abstract’s 2-year anniversary and checks out Matrimony and Laney Jones

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In case you didn’t know, other national-level things besides miscarriages of justice happen around here. Just take the 2-year anniversary of Relief in Abstract (July 10, the Social), the Orlando electronic music label I called “best new label/scene” in last year’s Underground awards. No doubt lifted by the tsunamic surge of flagship act XXYYXX, the event was packed and buzzing with a line down the block. What a difference 10 million YouTube hits makes, eh?

Here’s some good news involving a black teenager in Sanford for a change: The 17-year-old XXYYXX (born Marcel Everett) has been wagging cognoscenti tongues for a while now, but he is straight blowing the fuck up now. Synthesizing hip-hop abstraction, chillwave hues and out-of-body frequencies, the kid has tapped into some sort of zeitgeist. And with a vibe that’s as ambient as it is bass-heavy, his live sets make entire clubs feel like a giant, collective womb under grooving hypnosis. He’s on a tour that’ll take him across Europe for the rest of the summer and then he hits major North American cities in autumn. And he launched the big journey right where it began, here, with his friends and labelmates.

But it looks like Fortune Howl is also turning some heads nationally in advance of the July 30 release of his album Earthbound, an impressive work that could very well make him Relief in Abstract’s next star.

Relief in Abstract has had a special vibration around it from the start. With the breakout success of some of its artists, it looks like fever pitch may be just around the corner for this underground society. Maybe this is the next Orlando wave I called for last week. They’re organically, proudly of this soil and they do legit work. As I see it, there are few current contenders worthier than the RIA crew.

The Beat

After Record Club (July 8, Lil’ Indies) – where North Avenue Studio’s Dave Plakon took us on a dizzying voyage through Miles DavisBitches Brew – I ran over to the Local. Located in the space that long housed local pizza institution Alfonso’s, the College Park bar just started blipping on the concert radar recently, due seemingly in part to the small concert exodus from the mysterious, sudden shuttering of promising Mills Avenue spot Orlando Nights. Seeing it operate under notable turnout for a pop-punk bill, the spot’s still feeling its way through being a live venue. The setup’s not pro-level or permanent, but the layout’s not bad for a floor show and there’s ample room. Still, let’s see how the residents will receive a young live music crowd, a vibe to which College Park hasn’t been historically hip. But perhaps the Local’s enough on the strip’s edge to be left alone.

The first and last time I saw North Carolina’s Matrimony was in 2011 opening for Langhorne Slim. They were already impressive then. But since, they’ve sharpened their sound and chops even further and are now signed to Columbia Records, and every bit of the added experience shows. Their latest performance opening for Matt Pond (July 11, the Social) was a fine-etched bridge between folk and indie rock that’s got more traditional fire than their gentrified indie peers and more freshness than their strict constructionist contemporaries. They may not fit perfectly in either of the two camps, but they pack all the virtues of both. And what makes it all fly is their triumphant songwriting. The gestalt is traditional yet forward, and that’s no small feat.

Considering the major folk renaissance going on in pop music right now with the Mumford tide, the timing’s riper than ever for Matrimony since they’ve probably got more guts and soul than any of the big names right now.

But ain’t nothing wrong with trad either. Young Mount Dora singer-songwriter Laney Jones is a little bit folk and a little bit jazz, but all old-time. And at her album release party (July 12, Lil’ Indies), she and her band packed the little house and waxed it all in golden, time-frozen amber with their charming Americana sound. But it’s all in her voice, and it’s a thing that brims with as much sweet innocence as it does rich craft.

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