Something I love is to receive a publicity package from a reputable PR agency, open it and see that it contains new music from a band that lives a few blocks away from me. The new Yip-Yip album (In the Reptile House) arrived in exactly that fashion — with a note that I should check out their July 9 show at Will's Pub, just like a real touring band. It made me realize that slowlyslowlyslowly, the cream is rising in Orlando. Bands that would have been criminally marginalized in the Matchbox 20 era are finally able to generate the audiences and hype they deserve, simply by being original, creative and, most importantly, working in a smart and reasonable way to get attention. The giddy grind of Yip-Yip's electronic assault will never sell a million records; it will probably never sell more than a few thousand. But at the end of the day, I'm ecstatic that they — or Sol.illaquists or Summerbirds or Inkwell or any of the many other excellent hometown bands making small national waves at the moment — are providing a more balanced (and interesting) view of this city's music scene than a parade of A&R-friendly pabulum.I sound like a broken record on this point, and for that I apologize, but hear me out: I recently pulled up an article written in this paper in November 1999 by my predecessor. This article — again, written nearly seven years ago — clearly pointed out that though Orlando had recently experienced a burp of major-label notoriety, the effect of that notoriety was not entirely desirable. The disregard with which so many of this city's bands were treated by the labels they signed to — I'm talking to you, Steve Burry … and JoJo … and Mighty Joe Plum … and Virginwool … and Virgos Merlot — should have been a klaxon in the ear of aspiring musicians, but alas, it was not. It's easy to understand why: So many of the people mentioned in that article — all of whom still peddle the same outmoded dream, none of whom are musicians — are still around, clinging perilously to the hope that they can find one more band to 10-percent-piggyback into obsolescence.
The smarter (and better) popular musicians in this city have, for the most part, moved on — either out of town or into the comfort of entrepreneurism. They're staying far away from the dangerous dreams of the music business and, in effect, have cleared the field for new players with different ideas of success. It's this new metric that, despite the protestations of the 10-percenters, dominates our current music scene, and that's something we should all be proud of. I'm still getting my brain around what this really "means," but I'm sure it's good. I just hope it lasts.
The date is set: Sept. 26 will see the release of As if We Existed, the Anti/Epitaph debut of collectivist hip-hop crew Sol.illaquists of Sound. I haven't heard it yet, but there's no reason to think that it won't make everyone involved — especially the Orlando scene that occasionally supports Swamburger and crew — incredibly proud … Speaking of pride, the video for Summerbirds in the Cellar's "Trains" (directed by Mike Goubeaux) won first prize in the Scion XPress Fest music video competition. I don't know what square cars have to do with top-notch indie-rock videos, but if you've seen "Trains," you know that Goubeaux deserves the $20,000 prize … Marc With a "C" releases a new album Aug. 26. It's called Life's So Hard, and I can't help but think that the title is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. Then again, this could be the point where he drops the smartass-on-acoustic-guitar bit and starts sounding like Tim Buckley. Or not ... Don't miss the Legendary J.C.'s at The Social on Friday (July 7); they'll be recording the set for a live album and I guarantee they will tear up the place.
Speaking of Friday, July 7
So go to the Social, but you'll need to go late. Why? Because a Rockcrit Battle Royale is going down at 8 p.m. at Redlight Redlight the same night, pitting me against Orlando CityBeat's Bao Le-Huu. Bao has seen fit to do a little pre-match smack-talking (as have I), positing that I'm some obscurantist snob and he's somehow a "man of the people." The problem with that is twofold: First, he'd have to be a man. Second, how can you accuse a Van Halen fan of being a snob? Yeah, I'm likely to whip out some Peter Brötzmann or Erkin Koray as a trump card in our iPod battle, but his implication — that someone with good taste is incapable of enjoying simpler and more visceral pleasures — is laughable. Come and see what a real man's music collection sounds like and witness a sonic ass-kicking.