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Diversifying their artistic vision, progressive dance duo Daft Punk just released their directorial effort Electroma on DVD. And, boy, is it, ummm, arty. It’s a high-concept film that’s mostly an exercise in style. It’s completely devoid of dialogue and features abstract imagery, striking landscapes and robots. Obliquely peppered in are existential themes of loss, futility, the soullessness of modernity and the quest for humanity … I think. OK, all I really know is that they cleverly placed an unexpected image of a vagina in with footage of desert dunes. Sold!

The Beat

What’s unfortunate about Nashville’s Paper Route (the Social, July 15) is that they have all the tools but they lack taste. They showed the technical sophistication of pros in their live playing and layering but opted to use it all for a kind of melodic melodrama that would let even Coldplay wear the pants. There was a ton to work with – ambient electronics, some nice guitar gauze – yet somehow the net result was utterly unremarkable. They even managed to rob a lap steel of its uniqueness and possibility. Now that takes effort.

The one bright spot was supernova drummer Gavin McDonald, whose attacking style shone with vigor and snap. Packing fury, passion and precision, he’d be a standout drummer even in the loudest or most technical of bands. How he ended up here defies reason. No simpler way to put it: This band is a waste of his time and talent. A passable drummer wouldn’t compromise Paper Route’s aesthetic one bit, but with a more inventive band, McDonald could take flight. You can put Ferrari rims on a Geo but it’s still gonna be a fucking Geo, ya dig?

After our big Best of Orlando party (Club Firestone, July 17), things got off to a slow start in the quest for musical inspiration. Good or bad, I just needed something to perk the antennae. Local band Matador (Back Booth) wasn’t doin’ it for me. The Dave Quattro (Tanqueray’s) made my eyes glaze over. After all, what is there to say about cookie-cutter jazz-funk, really? Nothing. Though it’s worth mentioning that they’re all named Dave, I suppose.

I finally hit some pay dirt with (hed) p.e. (the Social), but that’s only because they’re just the kind of awful that slaps you out of any stupor. If the congress of rap and metal in one room won’t do it, the rambling of a retard revolutionary (frontman Jahred) is enough to raise ire. All his anti-establishment flapping may have been earnest, but it sure wasn’t intelligent. Then again, you can’t expect to have your political diatribes taken seriously when you’re wearing face paint and a tilted baseball cap. Anybody interested in hearing Insane Clown Posse’s position on domestic policy? Exactly.

The Little Debbies (Peacock Room, July 19) made quite the splashy debut. Comprising ladies from notable local bands like Jeanie and the Tits, Milka and the Black Noise, they’re making a bid to fill the girl-group void left by the disbanding of the Tits. Unfortunately, that’s not gonna happen right away. Stylistically, they threw it all out there, mixing surf, rock, punk and metal willy-nilly. More often than not, that’s a bad idea. In order to distill some sort of vision out of their ball of rock, they seriously need the ears of an editor. They’ve got spirit, but currently they’re sort of formless. It was their first gig out, so due lenience granted. Stay tuned.

This week’s best in show goes to Austin, Texas’ Electric Touch (Back Booth, July 20), who laid down big, Brit-kissed rock & roll that was slinky, tuneful and infectious. Major credit, too, for their showmanship. Never mind that there were only about 20 people in attendance; these guys played like they were rocking an arena. By the set’s halfway point, they had managed to thaw the thick ice of a small, unacquainted audience and had a handful of people dancing.

The Doctor Is Out

There will be no This Little Underground next week because I’m taking a short vacation. Awww, I KNOW! But aside from your boy here, even shitty bands deserve a break too. So all you stinkers out there, breathe easy. Next week, it’s on.

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