Seeing the inimitable Anthony Bourdain speak this past weekend at the Florida Film Festival evoked two themes that apply particularly well to music: passion and context. If we want our scene to be something meaningful then we have to burn with the former and value the latter. OK, now it’s your turn.

Damn, is Mumpsy just cold workin’ it or what? A few short months ago, the local indie-pop band won the garage-pop category in Sufjan Stevens’ worldwide Christmas song contest. Now, in the latest victory of the Great Mumpsy Takeover, they’ve won round two of the Collegiate Nationals Music Championship held by CMJ and CBS College Sports. They’re being flown out to play San Diego’s Wave House on April 18 with No More Kings (whose ass they will totally outplay). The other notable prize is the inclusion of one of their songs on a CMJ CD sampler. Toldja they were going places.

Man, fuck Girl Talk. If you’re into the postmodern guilty pleasure of mashups, San Francisco DJ Mike Relm is who you should be diggin’. His breathless beat juggling and totally ill scratching make his peers look downright geriatric. Oh, you’ve never seen one of his sets? Well, dry those sad puppy-dog eyes ’cos his new DVD, Clown Alley, just dropped and it’s a pretty good representation of the dopeness he brings live.

The mashup genre is not an intellectual one, it’s about sticking your ass out and shakin’ it. And Relm’s pop-cultural magpie schtick – which involves both furious turntablism and fully integrated video mixing – is the most three-dimensional take on the party. (Some of the videos are actually shot in 3-D, glasses included.) Combining videos, skits and live footage, the hilariously fresh DVD is like the visual marriage of the Books and Negativland set to a club-bangin’ soundtrack.

In the evolving Matt Butcher phenomenon, the talent possessed by the auspicious local musician has never really been in question. But it wasn’t until the unveiling of his brand-new six-piece band, Matt Butcher & the Revolvers, March 29 at Back Booth that his genteel country aesthetic truly crystallized.

What was once potential is now sterling, cogent actuality, and Butcher can at last be crowned the area’s Prince of Americana. This lush, outstanding performance shone for a shit-ton of reasons. For one, it had the full wingspan of a real ensemble effort, complete with pedal steel (woo-hoo!) and organ. Most important, the songs were there. Melodically precise and brimming with conviction, his music hasn’t come alive with such spirit since his days with the Heathens. Mark it now.

The Haven was the scene for one mighty sick heavy metal bill on March 27. Winter Haven’s Mountain Ov Dawn delivered a wicked, ripping onslaught. The music is solid, but more work is needed to fit the vocals into their sound more convincingly. Right now, they stick out like a pimple on an otherwise righteous face. And, no, that cheezed-out echo effect isn’t helping.

Afterward, Illinois’ Minsk effectively drained every single scintilla of hope from my soul, y’know, in a good way. The sonic shroud they laid out in thick, impressionistic layers was a crushing pall of doom. Getting through their set – which I swear was comprised of, like, two interminable songs – was like wading through a river of tar. Being that dejected ain’t easy, so hats off to them.

Once Atlanta’s Zoroaster went on, though, they blasted the lethargy out of the room like that boss air gun on No Country for Old Men.No dis to the other worthy acts that night, but Zoroaster’s one of those bands whose commanding grip just makes everyone else seem like amateurs.

Their sludge metal rumbled with such a menacing, Southern sense of urgency that their exhilarating set felt like a herd of bison rampaging through the club, only with lots of totally sweet fog and strobes. The flattening hammer of their music is unequivocally one of the most promising forces in metal today.


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