By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Heavenly is the word that best describes the all-grrl pop-punk band A.K.A. Capitalizing on their sexuality and the name recognition of vocalist/guitarist Lori Garroti's almost-famous brother, Joey G. (a member of the Crumbs' side project, the Basicks), the band has made a pretty impressive impact on the scene, though with only ten shows under its belt, the Miami trio is a long way from making it big. That's not to say the buzz is all hype. An upcoming interview with Closer magazine; the support of other noteworthy groups like Morrison Poe, 10 Sheen, and Bikini Kill; a high-energy stage presence; and catchy songs such as "Woah, Woah" and "Pursuing Me" have secured this group a place in the ranks of South Florida's music scene. -- Kris Conesa
A.K.A., Kazarina, Stay Hit, No Peace at All, and DJ 9Ft Lucifer perform at 10:00 p.m. Friday, June 25, at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave. Call 305-757-1807.
The Brand crew will stop at nothing to log its hometown into the annals of South Florida rock history. The group is now venturing into the party/promotion scene with a weekly event at the Diamond Lounge, Plaid Fridays. Call these shows a seedier version of Poplife. The cover charge is seven bucks, but either plaid clothing or a valid driver's license with a Hialeah address will knock two bones off the fee.
This June 25 brings the rising styles of Street's musical ambassadors, the Secret PE Club. Formed by scene veteran Ed Artigas, these sultry larks (including former members of Oprah's Dildo and Laundry Room Squelchers) kick out a punkish/indie/power pop sure to please the locals. Joining them for the party are Bling Bling, Humbert, DC-3, and the Brand. There will be a DJ spinning rock records in between and after the acts so you can get your dance on. The drinks are affordable, and there's a 24-hour pizza joint in the strip mall in case you get the munchies. -- Abel Folgar
Secret PE Club, DC-3, Bling Bling, Humbert, and the Brand perform during Plaid Fridays at 9:00 p.m. Friday, June 25, at Diamond Lounge, 1161 W 68th St, Hialeah. Tickets cost $7. Call 305-558-6959.
Suenalo Sound System
Nothing makes us more proud to live in this city than shaking our asses to the dirty, toe-jamming, funkdafied groove of Suenalo Sound System. It is impossible to watch these guys in action and not feel like you're witnessing an orgiastic musical experience. Congas, horns, synthesizers, and, like, ten people onstage at any given time, each with a wide range of musical influences spanning Seventies psychedelic electro funk to salsa, hip-hop, and island rhythms, seamlessly converge to form a sound that uniquely personifies Miami.
If they have any flaws, it's that they are too good at what they do. Their sound is so in tune with the pulsating oscillations of our vibrant surroundings, it's hard to imagine outsiders truly appreciating the amalgamation of cultures expressed by these Little Havana natives. Much like black beans at the local KFC, we just don't think anyone beyond the borders of the Republica De Miami will get it. Viva la Republica! -- Kris Conesa
Suenalo Sound System performs at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, June 26, at Paco’s Tavern, 3425 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Call 305-673-5888.
Armand Van Helden
Most DJ/producers in dance music are somewhat faceless, but not Armand Van Helden. His stern, ghetto-fabulous demeanor and pencil-thin beard is not only a trademark, but an amusing cliché and the basis for comedian Ali G's act.
Van Helden's beat-driven sound, just like his image, is unmistakable. After a two-year hiatus, he released his first mix CD last April, New York: A Musical Odyssey. On the disc, he blurs the line between house rhythms and rock riffs with a turntable journey through the New York club scene, deftly cutting up Eighties records and his own productions. Though his retro rock approach might make him seem like a Johnny-come-lately, the album has a distinct, authentic back-in-the-day vibe. Its three Van Helden originals even sound like they could've come out twenty years ago, especially his tribute to freestyle, "Let Me Lead You." -- Humberto Guida
Armand Van Helden performs at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, June 26, at crobar, 1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-672-8084
Piebald, Jealous Sound
If you've ever sat in your third-period trigonometry class and daydreamed that Ben Folds hooked up with the guys from Weezer to record an album (and, really, who hasn't?), then boy, do I have a band for you: Piebald! Don't let the third wave ska-style name throw you off: This is a peppy, punky, piano-flecked foursome from Boston that's kinda emo in the way that a band whose best song is called "Holden Caulfield" can be, yet goofy enough to avoid coming off like bellyaching buffoons.
Opening up for Piebald is the Jealous Sound, an emo supergroup without the superwhine that includes former members of Knapsack, Jawbox, Shudder to Think, and Sunday's Best. Unfortunately this L.A. quartet is also without the supersongs. If Jimmy Eat World ever pulled a hamstring I'd stick 'em in the lineup, but beyond that I wouldn't give 'em much playing time. -- Michael Alan Goldberg
Piebald, the Jealous Sound, Spitalfield, and Northstar perform at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 27, at the Factory, 2674 E Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $10. Call 954-564-7625.
Ride Wit’ Ya Boy
With an unmistakable hit-and-run flow that would sound at home on the Crescent City blocks alongside the Hot Boys, Ran Rover unleashes a local aesthetic free of booty bass, bikinis, and palm trees. Indeed with eighteen tracks, Ride Wit’ Ya Boy is a legitimately fat showcase for the 23-year-old Carol City native, and his “Game in Me” and “Run Wit Us” pop and slice with the natural charisma of a talented J-Kwon. But then there are the beats. The latter has a novice Playskool spin on the old Ludacris/Neptunes jernt “Southern Hospitality.” Meanwhile “Oooh” swipes Mr. Cheeks’s “Lights, Camera, Action!” and mixes it beneath the title chorus.
Incidentally, part of the appeal of Ride Wit’ Ya Boy resides in hearing Ran Rover effortlessly weather such varied and occasionally bizarre tracks, then shine over the somber bounce of “Concrete Jungle” and the dark ghetto pop of “Ran Rover (Hotter Than a Flame).” It’s an entertaining and thorough introduction, especially for the Miami hip-hop scene. With a few heavyweight producers by his side, one can foresee 106 & Park in his future. — Hunter Stephenson