Why stand in line to see dance music's biggest stars when you can hang with them at home?

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The Winter Music Conference and M3 Summit are a dance-music lover's yearly dream, a paradise of sound for even the most jaded ex-clubbers. It almost takes extra resolve to not be completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of creativity that splashes over the city as artists from throughout the U.S. and Europe descend on our shore, intent on showing what they've got. Thousands upon thousands of new music releases will exchange hands and be played at local clubs, hotels, bars, and other venues during the next two weeks, previewing fresh sounds that may not actually see release until much later this year. Rest assured that we will bring you coverage of the finest music picks as they become officially available.

Here at New Times, though, we're nothing if not practical. We understand it's not easy to spend weeknights waiting in what can be truly fruitless and deflating lines at South Beach night spots. Whether people are limited by time, money, or intolerance of horrible velvet-rope dopes, sometimes it's just much more rewarding to duck the crowds. But why should you miss out on all the great music? You shouldn't. Here are some recommendations of albums that are already in stores from artists who will appear at various venues throughout Miami for WMC/M3 (check out www.wintermusicconference.com and www.m3summit.com for specific event info). Use them as a starting point to explore, and you'll see there are many fine and even some groundbreaking tunes out there. This is just a slice of life, but it's an intimidating marketplace that's often difficult to dissect.

The British Isles always seem to send a fair number of (dance) troops over here. They're easily spotted; just look for the sunburns. But before that, check out the UK's legendary Coldcut duo, forefathers of sample-based music. Their new album, Sound Mirrors (Ninja Tune), features the wordplay of top Brit MC Roots Manuva. Also worth hunting down is their stunning 70-plus-minute DJ mix for the Journeys by DJ series (JDJ). It's more than ten years old but still stands as among the more expertly arranged compilation mixes on the market. Singer/producer/electro-R&B wunderkind Jamie Lidell was much celebrated in 2005 for his debut, Multiply (Warp), a must for anyone who appreciates some true soul.



Also from Britain: London nightclub Fabric releases amazing DJ-helmed collections about every other month. Recent volumes from Bugz in the Attic and Diplo really stand out; the former's disc will hip you to the polyrhythmic funk the band calls "broken beat," while the latter's album mixes fun songs from the Eighties (think Yazoo and the Cure) with the latest in Brazilian baile funk, a style set to have a huge presence among the M3 Summit events. Original techno-rave terrorist The Prodigy will hit the Ultra Music Festival, but the band's new Singles (XL) set is a safer way to consume the group's career highlights without landing in a mosh pit. Lady Sovereign is a hotly tipped performer signed to Def Jam; no doubt her local appearances will be packed, but her recent Vertically Challenged EP (Chocolate Industries) comes with a DVD in case you feel like just chilling. And Radio 1 DJ extraordinaire Gilles Peterson pairs up with Germany's Jazzanova for the two-disc Kings of Jazz collection (BBE), an insightful blend of vintage jazz and current stylings.

Stateside there's San Francisco's OM Records, which has released a collection dedicated to the festivities called OM Miami, featuring several new artists in addition to label stalwarts like Afro-Mystik and Colette. Happy to escape the fog, they'll also be easy to spot in the crowd. Detroit's 3 Chairs (Theo Parrish, Rick Wilhite, and the enigmatic Kenny Dixon Jr.) are local techno legends and should be international superstars; check their self-titled album on their own 3 Chairs label and feel the funk. If some East Coast attitude sounds more suitable, there's the deep, tribal, tech-savvy house music of Satoshi Tomiie, a twenty-year veteran of production who recently brought out the three-disc mix compilation ES (SAW Recordings). Or try Go Commando!, a mix by New York's James F!@#$% Friedman that mashes freshly pressed and mightily sexy European electro-groovers with Big Apple techno-voyeurs.

Try to keep your clothes on, though, all right?


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