Zzzz … gobble … zzzz … snort, SLURRRP … Huh? Oh, right. Music column.

The Beat

New Orleans eccentric Quintron rolled his production into town once again (Nov. 26, Will's Pub). Like an underground rocker gone carny, he uncorked the cartoonish haunt of his organ-robed music, tagging punk, electronica and rock & roll. However, there's no clearer personification of his offbeat theatricality than the remarkably skillful, often subversive and pretty psychedelic puppet show he and wife Miss Pussycat put on before the musical performance.

Also good was opener Garbo's Daughter, a local, all-female garage trio and a likably ragged homage to the girl-pop heritage. Though modern-sounding, their stylistic point of reference is decidedly vintage, so of course that means a Phil Spector beat had to make an appearance in their set.

In fact, it's precisely the beats of drummer Kristin Messina that make this band distinctive. Though not one of the best technical drummers in the city, she's certainly one of the greatest, with a thrilling, unpredictable style that often explodes without warning into rumbling fits. Definitely one of Orlando's top girl groups going right now.

Rounding out the bill was the blues-punk murderousness of the Hex Tremors. Returning from hibernation, the deadly Orlando duo unleashed a bunch of new songs that are more straight-ahead rockers than the lunatic punk they've perfected. And, yes, they're still one of the best acts around. God, this band makes me happy.

Just as they had deservedly risen to serious prominence and wide critical acclaim, it looks like there's big-time upheaval in the world of Torche. Clearly something's up, as they played sans guitarist Juan Montoya and frontman Steve Brooks was sporting a fresh shiner (Nov. 25, Back Booth). Dunno if these two facts are causally linked — the band has yet to make an official statement besides confirming that they are now a three-piece, but some vague reporting has appeared on the Lambgoat and Brooklyn Vegan websites.

As a lean and mean trio, their aggression was a little less heavy but more athletic. Still, with a hard-gunning onslaught and one of the best guitar sounds ever, Torche continues to be among Florida's greatest contributions to metal. Who knows, maybe Brooks and his new cowboy hat will fuse together and become the next Al Jourgensen.

Despite the halcyon name, Boston's Clouds is a hot, dirty vortex of classic hard rock and punk toughness. These redlining revivalists are undeniably backward-looking but know how to kick it full steam. Though it's another spin-off from esteemed metal- core band Cave In, Clouds rocks with its cock swinging loose. Thankfully, they were a hundred times better than former Cave In frontman and now-solo Stephen Brodsky, whose head-scratching Anti-Pop performance was an unformed thought at best.

Speaking of old school, Q-Tip is back with a new, actually released album, The Renaissance, and it's a return to something more organic and soulful than the glammy, club-thumping flirtations of his early solo work. Despite making the crowd wait 40 minutes past the typically ironclad HOB schedule to hear the new stuff, he pretty much saved hip-hop, at least for a night (Nov. 28, House of Blues). Tip's patented balance of smooth and hype was transmitted with maximum fidelity, affirming that he's still a showman par excellence. It was more than a show — he came to put on a spectacle, with a full band a la the Roots. In fact, this sumptuous backing is what made the concert exceptional.

The set was bathed in golden-era warmth, even dropping some Tribe numbers, but this was no revival tour. He easily could've stacked the bill with old-schoolers and probably had more ticket sales, but instead young indie-rap pistols the Knux and the Cool Kids were tapped.

The openers took a while to warm up but ultimately delivered quality performances. Hipster-hop brothers the Knux, who have the stuff to be the next "it" act, deal in style-busting rap that pushes the envelope by refusing to be constrained by hidebound hip-hop tradition. That, and by daring to wear tight jeans.

Though they're somewhat overrated, Chicago duo the Cool Kids did produce some salient moments. When their occasionally lazy flow didn't get in the way, their beat construction was able to shine.


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