This Little Underground 

Shit's tough out there, man. Everyone's having to get awfully creative just to get by. Take the Pauses, for example, who aren't even above good old-fashioned panhandling.

The Orlando indie-pop band is trying to scrape together enough cheddar to record their debut album with acclaimed producer J. Robbins — $4,500, to be precise. To that admittedly "impractical and pretentious" end, they're soliciting donations on their website ( The bum who levels with you and says he wants money to buy beer is better than the typical con whose pretense of needing "food" often means "crack." At least it's honest and you know exactly where your cash is going.

This space isn't an open billboard, so I wouldn't even bother mentioning it if this incredibly promising band weren't completely worth your while and support.

What's more, the Pauses — boldly engaging in yet another unjustly maligned practice — are whoring out prime CD booklet space to officially recognize every person donating $15 or more toward the realization of the record (just like Jill Sobule's fan-financed California Years, released earlier this year, though she charged more for a thank-you listing). I'm donating and so should you.

The beat

Hey, scenesters out there who complain that the Social is too impersonal: The new summer concert series Garage Days should change your mind. From the clandestine back-alley entrance (reminiscent of the old Simon's up in Gainesville) to the intimate back-bar space, the setup of this night feels like an entirely different club altogether. With no fancy light show or physical separation between performer and audience, it's a purist's heaven. Even though the event I attended was open to the public, it felt private, like some underground music society meeting, a layer that any scene worth its salt needs.

The recent all-local one (July 13) featured excellent sets from Watch Me Disappear, Hurrah and particularly Basements of Florida. The new development for Basements, who are probably the city's most thrilling band right now, is that their roster has gone from three to five members, adding ex-Summerbird Tyson Bodiford on drums and Attachedhands principal Henry (no last name, please) on bass. Let's see now, that brings the count to three bassists and two drummers. I mean, c'mon, that already sounds badass on paper. Live? Oh yeahhh, big-time boner. Basements' mix of dynamism, drive and electricity just got exponential. What makes this rhythm project fly, besides strength of concept, is that they explore technicality without getting lost in it. The result is maximum thunder and fierce momentum.

In fact, it's an MO that Watch Me Disappear should just go ahead and commit to. The moments in their newer songs in which they've taken a more streamlined attack are glimpses of where WMD's next level is, and it's the promised land.

Nowadays, there's way better music on TV commercials than there is on the radio. That's why I went to see Rabbit (July 17, the Social), the kinda new Central Florida jingle factory that recently hit it big on a Honda Insight ad (the one that takes place in a parking garage) with a fetching song that sounds suspiciously like the White Stripes' "We're Going to Be Friends." Anchored by songwriters Devin Moore (Bloom) and Ashton Allen (Big Sky), Rabbit's indie pop is absolutely perfect … for 5-year-olds. To be sure, their melodic confection is well-crafted with hook, economy and snap. I just can't quite decide whether I want to pinch its cheeks or wrap my fingers around its neck.

Earlier that night played the Avett Brothers (House of Blues), who are one of those rare miracles in music. On paper, the progressive folk of these North Carolina boys is true and deep enough to be a little challenging to those outside the genre. But somehow, against all odds, they've become a breakout band, possibly on their way to becoming the White Stripes of the folk world. Though the dramatic spike in their fan base is good for the band, it's not necessarily a good thing overall. It's great that more people are getting hip to quality music, but the new fans skew heavily toward college students just passing through hippie-ville and the aging post-patchouli set, which is often the death knell in terms of credibility. As long as they avoid playing down to the crowd and stay in tune with their inner compass, their standing as one of the most exciting modernizers of the American folk vernacular will be all but guaranteed.


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