Are you a last-minute holiday shopper like me? Well, stop it. Didn’t your mother warn you that chronic procrastination gives you hairy palms?

To help you avoid that unsightly fate, here’s a worthwhile gift idea for that music aficionado in your life (though, if you’re a regular reader of this impossibly fashionable column, it’s probably you, in which case just cut this bad boy out and hand it to your generous loved one).

Remember, it’s always important to appear respectable, particularly if you aren’t. It’s even better when you can pull it off without compromising your true subversive values, and the cool new hardcover by Abby Banks titled Punk House: Interiors in Anarchy is your ticket. On the outside, it appears like that most hallowed symbol of scholarship, the book; but inside are colorful glimpses into communal punk life in collective homes, squats and warehouses across the nation, six of which are in Florida. Don’t worry, it’s mostly pretty pictures so it won’t tax your literacy too much, but the few words that do appear dripped from the pen of none other than Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.

The beat

Once upon a time, the forebears of the Swedes used their fierce warrior strength to conquer. Now, being much more progressive these days, their main weapons are IKEA and Volvo. But it’s tough to get that warm plundering sensation through design savvy alone, so they still cling to their beloved death metal. And on Nov. 27, Dethklok – I mean, Amon Amarth – ripped into Club Firestone with a hammering orgy of Odinism. Evoking grandiose Viking lore through epic, pummeling songs, it was quite the macho opera. And I dunno what headbanging conquerors typically drink (mead? Infants’ blood?) but I now know all that matters is that it’s swigged from a drinking horn. Imagine a longer episode of Metalocalypse without the irony. Good times.

Nov. 30 was the latest edition of my semi-regular local showcase, The Bao Show, at Redlight Redlight. The point of this one was to prove that, despite what we’ve come to expect, acoustic shows don’t have to blow. Very few artists around here embody this precept as ably as Thomas Wynn, who’s been spreading Southern soul for some time through a couple of excellent roots-rock bands. In this solo performance, it was simple to see why. This guy feels it with every fiber in his being, and so will you when you watch him play.

Justin Beckler, who’s not only Wynn’s guitarist but a criminally overlooked singer/songwriter in his own right, also delivered a strong set. Kissed with folk, blues and twang, the thoroughly American soul of his music pumped with big heart. After such a strong showing, consider this my formal entreaty for him to gather a band to replicate his recorded glory live. One of his sets will show you that passionate grit and mainstream appeal aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive things. If Mofro’s success is possible, then Wynn and Beckler ought to be on deck.

Rounding out the bill was Louis DeFabrizio. The Gasoline Heart frontman is known for the connection he has with his audience, but this set was a reminder of how his preoccupation with involving people in the performance can lead to choppy action. He seemed unable to complete one song without some sort of interruption, which sucked when it happened during one of my faves. The result was that the big melody and genuine vigor of his music never struck the groove I know it’s capable of.

Nov. 28 called for double duty between the Social and Crooked Bayou. Headlining the former were locals Kingsbury. The somber, Calla-esque beauty of these luminaries may be understated, but they proved again in a nice set that they are the masters of mood. Because they’re not flashy, they remain one of the unsung highlights in the local indie scene. It seems that, outside the city’s music cognoscenti, they enjoy precious little support. Does it honestly take smothering promotional tactics for a band to get noticed by you guys? Say it ain’t so.

Over at Crooked Bayou, Floridas Dying brought down Columbus band Psychedelic Horseshit for a good set of wiry post-punk that sounded like early New Order frayed with ragged punk strands. Then again, with fried pickles to soak up the whiskey, things never seem bad.

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