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14 local artists who are reshaping the Orlando music scene 

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Sean Shakespeare

Of all the young new MCs in the Second Subject crew – the local label and collective overseen by Solillaquists of Sound's Swamburger – Sean Shakespeare is the brightest and readiest. He's known as a member of hip-hop triad Table for Three alongside notable rappers TKO and Jamar X, but his new solo work is his most focused. His collaboration with the battle-tested Swamburger has produced some standout sounds that are a modern reboot of the kind of literate and technical rap that is hip-hop in its most elevated state. With that partnership, Shakespeare has a new 11-track album (Bloodline) in the can and slated for release before the end of the year. From what he's been showing on stage, it's got all the ingredients of a distinctive new voice ready to assert itself. And in addition to a short tour with Carnage the Executioner in January, that voice can be heard next at the Second Subject Sunday Sampler on Dec. 10 at Mills Avenue wax den Remix Records. – BLH

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANDREAS VOLMER
  • Photo by Andreas Volmer

Alterity Chamber Orchestra

Alterity Orchestra are a real-time exercise in sonic exploration the likes of which has never been attempted in Orlando's creative music/avant-garde circles. To wit, a group of promising and adventurously-minded classical musicians are being steadily put through their paces onstage with tutelage from high-shelf practitioners of the avant arts like Chris Belt and Thad Anderson, with a musical brief squarely focused on the works of contemporary classical composers. And the experiment is bearing spectacular sonic fruit – Alterity's ensemble performance of Quartet for the End of Time at the Timucua White House was like a sonic séance (in all the best ways), and the October debut of the full, 15-piece Orchestra at Factur playing the works of John Adams and Julius Eastman dazzled attendees. What's next? Expect the unexpected. – MM

  • Photo by Vikka Perez Puelles


Synthwave is in full renaissance right now and probably the best – certainly the most textbook – example of the genre in Orlando is Troy Simpson's Moondragon. Like our own resident Jan Hammer, he's fast become the go-to opener when notable national names like Perturbator and Gost roll through town. But his commitment to the neon age of the '80s goes beyond just action-sequence synthesizers. With perfectly curated and edited vintage video that's an equal part of his live show, a Moondragon concert is pure time travel. His latest album, Grand Prix, released in September, is a total retro adventure that's a sonic narrative to the history of Formula One racing. All it would take for this synth crusader to write the next score for Stranger Things is one dark turn. – BLH

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JIM LEATHERMAN
  • Photo by Jim Leatherman

Ray Brazen

Lo-fi troubadour Ray Brazen is an underground lifer and true believer, a welcome reminder that you can reach a certain age in your musical life and keep pushing forward, instead of retreating to the comfy confines of a fedora and some righteous Clapton covers. Part of a lineage of eccentric home recording going back to Syd Barrett and filtering through Daniel Johnston and Sebadoh, Brazen was bitten by the creative freedoms of the lo-fi revolution in New York in the late '80s, where spontaneity was the only rule. Brazen relocated to Central Florida in 2004, and continued cranking out records – including a heartfelt paean to local newscaster Wendy Chioji. Brazen has, of late, found kindred spirits in the Illuminated Paths collective, who have reissued a sprawling sampler of earlier works and provide the encouragement for him to continue to let his freak flag fly proudly. His methods are refreshingly the same: Bash songs out on a fuzzed-out electric guitar, record the results, and release them on hand-dubbed tapes. For Brazen, "get weird" is more of a sacred commandment than a glib, normie catchphrase. – MM

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