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So, is that ass still red from the beating I gave it last week? GOOD. Maybe you’ll get off it more this year. Anyway, enough holiday rest and recuperation. The only “R&R” this column recognizes is rock & roll, so back on it, suckas …

The beat

It’s pretty clear that I’m a downtown guy. There are many reasons for this, but let’s just say that my time comes at a premium and I don’t like it wasted. But in the spirit of freshness that a new year implies, I checked in on a relatively new entrant to the live scene Jan. 3. An offshoot of the biker-friendly Junkyard Saloon on North OBT, the Dungeon gives stage primarily to heavy metal bands, hence the appropriately evil name. Headbangers, genuflect before your goats in thanks, ’cos your prayers have been answered with a specialty underground venue made to your order. With a shed-like atmosphere, it’s intimate, unpolished (except for the surprisingly clean toilets) and metal as fuck.

This night saw all sorts of extreme forms of the genre. Long Island’s Revenance blasted a torching combination of groove-thick metal and grindcore, made distinct by singer Joe Marchese’s voice modulations, which shifted on a dime between the requisite vomit vocals, static-drenched pig squeals and DJ-style scratch sounds.

Similarly grind-y were Pompano Beach’s Implosive Disgorgence. God, dontcha just love metal band names? Personally, I’m envious of anyone given the freedom to play fast and loose with the English language and come up with incredibly fancy meaninglessness. Oh, wait. Never mind.

I’m still trying to decide whether the dance moves busted by several high-spirited kids in attendance are a new trend in the young metal scene or just moshers-in-training still working out the kinks. I practically dropped out of the womb and into a pit, so allow me to impart some knowledge. Swinging your elbows like a Muay Thai fighter having a seizure may pass at a metal show, but don’t go doing that shit at a hardcore show. It’ll get your teeth spilled on the floor like a fumbled pack of Chiclets. Oh, and outside a capoeira demonstration, throwing those goofy martial arts-inspired kicks will get you laughed out of the club. But learning curve aside, I say rock on, you crazy Billy Elliots.

So the verdict on the Dungeon: It’s a solid joint and a good response to the growing local metal scene. Get to know it. Bang! Next.

Other good local findings were at Taste Jan. 5. Young retro-rock trio the Black Rabbits were totally green and stiff but incredibly likable. In addition to singer Jetson Black’s strong vocal similarity to Julian Casablancas, their simple but effective formula of solid melody and simple rock & roll vim bore more than a passing resemblance to the Strokes.

Closing was the hit-and-run garage-pop of Hot Hands. Comprised of drummer Kristin Messina and guitarist Jeffrey Howard (whose collective résumé includes Jeanie & the Tits, the Courtneys and the Sharp Objects), the girlfriend-
boyfriend duo bashed out a set that was exactly like my first kiss: amateurishly sloppy but totally awesome. Besides enjoyable music, the ridiculous exchanges between the two made the performance virtually a comedy act.

Meanwhile, it seems the members of acclaimed Gainesville post-hardcore band Hot Water Music were all headed for waters deeper in melody, though not necessarily together. Singer Chuck Ragan went on to explore rugged folk terrain alone, while the remaining formed the Draft and pushed their punk sound into meaty rock territory. At a punk bill Jan. 4 at the Social, the Draft’s huge hooks and memorable melodies flourished with a set full of fist-pumpers. By the way, all you HWM fans will want to mark Jan. 19 on your calendars; it’s one of only four dates of their super-limited reunion tour and it’ll be at our House of Blues.

Mumpsy reps

They may not have landed the ultimate prize in Sufjan Stevens’ big holiday song contest (“The Great Sufjan Song Xmas Xchange”) but local indie-pop hotshots Mumpsy did win “Best Garage Pop” for their entry “Left Alone on Christmas Day,” making them one of only 10 category-winners out of over 600 entries. Download it at Convinced Orlando can hang now?

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