By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
The swamps and warehouse squats, Carol City and Coco's Nightclub, South Beach and the megaclubs — our city's music scene is the product of so many split-up, spliced, and remixed sources that any attempted overview of its output will inevitably seem insufficient and incomplete.
But here at New Times, we don't sweat that kind of stuff. We charged ahead, dug into the massive stacks of music clogging our cubicles, and proceeded maniacally with our end-of-the-year list-making. The result: An unranked, non-genre-specific rundown of Miami's best albums, EPs, and mixtapes released over the last 365 days.
So scan our picks, send us your grievances, and stay plugged into CrossfadeMiami.com 'cause we'll be running through another ten favorites online.
Over the last half- decade, Rick Ross has hustled endlessly, becoming one of hip-hop's swaggest stars. Despite a couple of public relations shortfalls (such as the whole Officer Ricky debacle), he has kept a pristine profile by dropping critically acclaimed singles and albums nonstop since his official debut in 2006. Continuing that streak, 2010's Teflon Don proved to be one of the year's top albums, both locally and nationwide. Backed by summer anthem "B.M.F." and sultry single "Aston Martin Music," the album not only reaffirms Ross's lyrical prowess and production savvy, but re-ups his cred as King. David Rosario
Bulletproof Tiger: Starving Hearts EP (Self-Released)
It's not very often punk rock's aging, bony body gets a shot of hot, new blood. And while South Florida's proud old punks are by no means stale or slipping, it's good to get some fresh corpuscules rushing through the veins. One such dose of the red stuff: Bulletproof Tiger, a local power-trio who have given their Miami heroes and peers a rush of revitalizing energy with ornate, layered, and experimental tunes. The Starving Hearts EP is bubbling with youthful angst, introspection, and beauty — not to mention healthy red cells. Abel Folgar
Suenalo: Live at Transit (Self-Released)
Though the group consists of relatively young cats, Suenalo has established itself as one of our local scene's granddaddies with a smart, hard-grooving fusion accurately described as "the sound of Miami." Appropriately, Live at Transit is exactly what it claims to be — SoFla's best party band letting loose on one of the Little Havana stages it helped make famous. It was all recorded over two extremely memorable nights last year. Or maybe they weren't especially memorable — it all depends on what you were drinking and how dangerously you danced. Christopher Lopez
Panic Bomber: Discipline EP (YYZ Records)
Our love affair with Miami's most quixotic musician continued in 2010 thanks to the quiet release of the Discipline EP on Canada's YYZ Records. After dropping his first full-length, Getting On My Mind, in late 2009, this three-track EP released in March seemed like an afterthought. However, Discipline features some of Panic Bomber's strongest compositions to date. The title track reeks of such electropop sinfulness that if it were Lady Gaga singing, the song would have already reached the upper echelons of Billboard's Hot 100. Meanwhile, "Can't Sleep" switches gears by laying down an Ibiza-ish house-vibe spiked with Bomber's signature falsetto vocals and a live horn section. In the end, it's that kind of complexity that sets Panic Bomber apart from local crops of electropoppers. Jose D. Duran
J. Nics: The Stimulus Package EP (Self-Released)
This young uptown Miami rapper has risen tremendously since releasing his first collection of tracks in December 2009. After polishing his craft on mixtapes, J. Nics graduated to the big leagues in late 2010 with his first official release of all-original material. He calls it The Stimulus Package. From opener to very last beat, J. Nics's trademark Southern drawl and intricately composed rhyme schemes make the listener hopeful he's Miami's next big thing. And even though this 10-track EP was both produced and released independently by Nics and team, it still sounds better than most of the year's cash-fat, major-label rap releases. David Rosario
Lil Daggers: King Corpse EP (Livid Records)
There's something about a limited-edition record that makes you want to go out and get it despite an already overflowing collection of vinyl. More enticing still? Miami psychedelic rock and roll crew Lil Daggers bringing the heat on a four-song release. Their 2010 EP features melodramatic, grungy tracks such as "King Corpse" and Miami-flavored "Ya Tu Sabe," alongside menacing ass-shakers such as "Hungry." Frontman Johnny Saraiva's trademark mumbled whines cut so sloppily through the dark and dirty lo-fi goodness even The Doors would be proud. A final note: You'll need relatively long hair to jam to this one, so start growing it out. Christine Borges
Afrobeta: Do You Party? EP (Do IT Entertainment)
Since 2006, Afrobeta has peddled sugary electropop to Miami's small music scene. But the pair's marketing machine hit high gear in 2009 when they hooked up with Ultra Music Festival co-founders and Do IT Entertainment label bosses, Russell and Charlie Faibisch. The partnership resulted in more than just exposure, though. Do You Party? provides hard proof of Afrobeta's superior songwriting and production skills. And sure, singer Cuci Amador coos with more attitude than ever on cuts such as "Play House" and the title track. But it's electro-ballad "Two Different Worlds" that shows the duo has hooks to match its new 'tude. Next year, with another slot at Ultra Music Festival and a promised full-length, Miami could finally have its answer to West Palm's Surfer Blood. Jose D. Duran