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They came. They recorded an album. They left. Well, while here they also attended a Marlins game, went to the dog races and jai alai, and ate Italian a lot. They = Air Miami, composed of Mark Robinson, Bridget Cross, and Gabriel Stout, the former two refugees from indie-pop uber godlets Unrest, who between 1987 (Tink of S.E.) and 1993 (Perfect Teeth) released five full-length albums plus scads of EPs, singles, and compilation tracks, many of them on Robinson's northern Virginia-based TeenBeat Records.
"Unrest toured in Miami, playing at Washington Square in the winter of '93, before we did Perfect Teeth," explains Robinson, speaking over the phone from TeenBeat HQ. "And we just thought it was a really cool place." Cool enough that when Robinson (guitar, vocals) and Cross (guitar, bass, vocals) dissolved Unrest (it also included drummer Phil Krauth) at the beginning of last year, they not only decided to record their next band's first album in Miami but also worked the city into their new name. "When we were thinking of band names," Robinson recounts, "I came up with the idea of doing something with an airline, and both me and Bridget were thinking of place names, and so Air Miami was chosen."
Robinson and Cross, along with nineteen-year-old drummer Stout (from the Michigan-based We Are Like Charlie) and producer Guy Fixsen (guitarist for English lush-pop darlings Laika), repaired to North Miami's Criteria Studios for two weeks in early May to cut the thirteen-song me. me. me. (4AD/TeenBeat). "After we found out who'd recorded at Criteria, like all the Saturday Night Fever stuff, we really wanted to record there," notes Robinson. Once ensconced, guess who they spy? "Julio Iglesias was recording while we were recording," Robinson says with a giggle. "He said 'Hola' to me." Released this week, me. me. me. brims with the same kind of thoughtful pop that characterized Unrest's final two albums, zigzagging between zesty little raveups such as "World Cup Fever," "Dolphin Expressway," and "Neely," and strummy, languorous stuff such as "Seabird," "Afternoon Train," and "Bubble Shield." Comparing Air Miami to Unrest, Robinson says of his new band, "The songs are a lot shorter, and that definitely was a conscious thing. And Bridget writes more songs, so it's attempting to do more of a 50-50 thing with her."
Air Miami's presence in town did not go unnoticed. "We've gotten a lot of letters from people in Miami who knew we were there," Robinson relates. "And they're like, 'What, Bridget and Mark are too stuck-up to play when they come down here?' I mean, like a lot of people. I was like, 'What is the big deal?'