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Spring hasn’t even sprung yet and there’s already some blossoming on the local boutique label front. A few weeks ago, I introduced new estro-punk imprint Lipstick Pickup. Now, Phil Siegenthaler (guitarist of sadly defunct post-hardcore band the Punching Contest) is set to launch Sleepy Bird Orphanage, a label focused on experimental music. Midwifed by Chris Cucci, it shares a loose collaborative tie with local indie paragon Post Records.

The debut release will be a solo record by Siegenthaler’s former bandmate, Nick Sprysenski, under the name Crutch & the Giant Junshi; it drops Feb. 29. Sprysenski eschewed an industry-standard Tuesday release because, as he puts it, “When the opportunity to do anything on Leap Day presents itself, you just kind of do it.” Oh, those crazy, experimental dudes. Sleepy Bird Orphanage’s next release will be an LP by the persistently odd Happy Valley later this spring.

FMF 2008

Get your submissions for this year’s Florida Music Festival (May 14-17) in yet? Well, put down the bong and hop to, ya bum. Luckily, the organizers have decided to show clemency to lazy-assedness with an extended deadline of March 10. Just go to and submit your MySpace or PureVolume page.

The beat

Feb. 17 was one heavy night at the Social. Even though it was headlined by the famously thick D.C. psych-rockers Dead Meadow, their last Orlando appearance was a much dreamier, more gossamer proceeding. This time, they came correct and brought the sonic tonnage on which their reputation is built. Phew! Even their newer, more atmospheric material was delivered with added live weight.

Continuing the sick streak of surprise discoveries I’ve made lately were local openers Strangers, who were like the lovechild of the Black Angels and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, which therefore equals totally dope. Their tall psych-rock sound came in swirls of echoey, reverbed sweetness. Unquestionably one of the most exciting local bands I’ve heard in a long time. With the similarly good Future on Films in Space emerging as well, psychedelia may just be the next microtrend in the Orlando underground.

Feb. 19 at Back Booth brought scrappy Athens act Pegasuses-XL, whose debut album The Antiphon (out this week) is a must-own. They sported synths overdriven enough to please fans of the damaged disco that’s currently owning dance floors, but enough organic touches – spastic human voices, a real drummer – to keep things dirty. The guys’ live execution was as fast and loose as my use of the English language (and nearly as awesome), and they played with both humor and desperation. Their highly textured sound is what happens when fried electronic music is played by a punk rock band: wild, experimental glory.

Forty-eight hours later, the Social hosted Joe Lally, best known as the bassist of Fugazi. Not surprisingly, he brought an ace band that made the thoughtful dynamics of his work breathe with more life than his recordings might suggest. Equally impressive was the singular grace with which he handled the small turnout, never neglecting to engage the few who gathered in a sincere way. Lally turned the show into an intimate affair rather than a vacant one, and ended the set with some a cappella down amongst the crowd. This is a guy who knows how to make his performances special.

Cop this

Earth Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord) Lonely, panoramic drone-metal that lumbers willfully with the hypnotically primordial steps of a sloth. Still, a noticeable shift toward vernal, more halcyon pastures.

Son Lux At War With Walls and Mazes (Anticon) Demonstrating a highly developed sense of volume and void, this debut showcases quivering, experimental electronica crafted by emotion and the human touch.

Experimental Aircraft Third Transmission (Graveface) Near-term nostalgists will want to wrap themselves in the pensive, swerving sheets of melodic shoegaze and romantic, moody post-punk herein.

Caroline Herring Lantana (Signature Sounds) Supple, traditionalist country-folk painted with a distinctly feminine grace.

Ladyhawk Shots (Jagjaguwar) Informed by the lethargic heavy side of early-’90s indie rock, the ragged rock of this sophomore album shows glimpses of greatness.

Pegasuses-XL The Antiphon (Ernest Jenning) Short memory, bub? See above.

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