Miami's Ten Best Uncategorizable Bands of All Time
Rat Bastard: Totally uncategorizable.
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
South Florida has long been a creative refuge for varied musical genres that have grown with little outside influence and a decidedly Floridian twist. This can be seen in our punk rock, metal, rap, and jazz.
Another of the better aspects of Miami's music scene has always been the relative freedom with which musicians of different genres will share a bill. Anyone remember that time the Crumbs split a night with drum 'n' bass artist Egg Foo Young?
If this town had the nation's ear like New York City or Los Angeles, these ten best uncategorizable bands would've been household names by now.
10. Recluse DNA
At the height of the power violence/sludge/hardcore punk days of the mid to late '90s, Recluse DNA was a band comprised of a revolving door of musicians like Henry Rajan, Paul Lewin, Dan Norris and Jorge Alvarez among others. These guys should've been bigger because their mesmerizing, articulate and cosmically symbolic numbers managed to grab the attention of punks and jazz lovers alike. Wouldn't you just love to have this party raging in your hi-fi at home? Did we mention that they were the first and quite possibly only band ever to use a didgeridoo onstage at Churchill's?
9. Scraping Teeth
Call it confrontational all you want but when you set out to recreate the painful misery of a full-throttle experience on your dentist's SY3086 and Spin Magazine votes you the "Worst Band in America," the time for jokes is clearly over. Aside from giving Frank "Rat Bastard" Falestra a platform to annihilate common decency with, they also inspired the following gems of poesy from this publication's music editor Sean Pajot back in 2012: "Some sucked. Others really sucked. But only Scraping Teeth sucked so bad that it was like giving head to a dude who's stuck on the shitter with diarrhea." Rat Bastard for ever.
See also: Miami's 20 Best Punk Bands of All Time
Thirty years in the making and one of the earlier units to bring a touch of the avant garde to South Florida, PUNTO has been the brainy brainchild of aurally quixotic proportions of Gustavo Matamoros and Armando Rodriguez Ruidiaz. Using varied instruments and a knowledge of acoustics, sound and digital applications, PUNTO's work is as much music as it is highbrow art. Daunting and heady on paper, their installations and set-specific pieces work on theoretical constructs that are actually thoroughly enjoyable compositions of modern classical fare.
7. Awesome New Republic
When ANR jumped into Miami's music scene back in 2003, this casual duo packed a much needed wallop into a stale state of affairs. Call it coincidence but their timing with Lauren Reskin opening Sweat Records couldn't've been better. This was what Miami needed. Call them danceable, jangly indie pop rock or whatever you want. ANR doesn't gel well with such pegging, oh no, there's more to these guys that just doesn't seem satisfied yet. We wouldn't be surprised if their next effort revolves around the application of synthesizers on children's nursery rhymes as interpreted by a syphilitic hermit. And it will be good. Really good and danceable too!
See also: Miami's Ten Best Metal Bands of All Time
6. Out of the Anonymous
What happens when you get Buffalo Brown, Henry Rajan and a couple of alter egos like Darth Vibrator under the guidance of Ulysses Perez? You get Out of the Anonymous. OOTA's remarkably low-key comings-and-goings was for a while, meticulously catalogued and thought-provoking. Is it ambience? Trip-hop? World? Acid jazz? Electronica? It doesn't matter because all answers are right and wrong. What OOTA did do and do very well, was capture a sci-fi-like paranoia that is cinematic gold. Three or four full-length releases are out there, you should seek them out.
5. Laundry Room Squelchers
This will not turn into the Rat Bastard Celebrity Hour but for what it is worth, the Laundry Room Squelchers have been either the cause or cure of my many years of ear infections. Thanks.
4. To Live and Shave in LA
Well, fuck it, maybe it is the Rat Bastard Celebrity Hour but when you spend a lifetime creating sonic chaos that teeters on the cusps of aural cocaine and virginal defilement, you've earned your hour for sure. Falestra, along with Ben Wolcott and Tom Smith were joined through their 14 years by a lively cast that featured a number of illustrious Toms, Dicks and Harrys like Andrew W.K., Thurston Moore and Don Fleming among many others. Play anything from their extensive catalogue the next time you have some snoots visiting from a "progressive" town like NYC, LA and/or even Boston.
3. Otto Von Schirach
Otto's a Cuban German man of many interests. His eclectic musical senses have taken him through the worlds of industrial music, breakcore, digital hardcore, hip-hop, Miami bass and elctronica. Looking like a taller and more muscular version of Mario Moreno who fell into a stylish vat of lysergic clothing, Otto's done plenty of damage unto the world on labels like Ipecac and Schematic and with musicians like Skinny Puppy and Atari Teenage Riot. He's been thoroughly interested lately in a more tropical approach to machismo and has turned out some decidedly thick booty jams even your mama can enjoy while knowing the whole tongue-in-cheek attitude of the proceedings. Que tipo más lindo.
See also: Miami's Ten Best Ska Bands of All Time
2. Harry Pussy
Fun fact, did you know that you could actually take a shit on a Puerto Rican whore in an emergency room? Bet you didn't know that your AvMed insurance covered it either. Built on love, Bill Orcutt and Adris Hoyos brought a bucket of influences to the table and executed one of the more influential experimental/noise rock outfits south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Their sexually charged and vociferous output enjoyed the ear of the Stillbreeze record label. Orcutt went into a state of semi-musical retirement to focus on other areas of interest and Hoyos experimented in different settings when they divorced in 1997. As of a couple of years ago, Orcutt's back with guitar in hand performing his signature free improvisational music and has had a number of very well received albums released.
These lists are never truly about listing our locals in a particular order, but try as we may to point that out, we always get some discord happening in the comments below. This one time, we will give the #1 spot to the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet because they've been doing their particular brand of weird longer than anybody else we listed today. Formed in 1967 and with a pair of short hiatuses in the '00s, NRBQ is closing in on their fifth decade of existence and Terry Adams and current crew are showing zero signs of slowing down. It's great to know that they've had the ears of notable musicians throughout their years and that they have flourished as artists. Hopefully the name-dropping bozos of the future will remark how truly Miami NRBQ has been because let's face it; an eclectic take on a standard is what we've done best here in our continuous geographical isolation, whether you can easily peg it or not.
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