Best CD Recorded At Miami International Airport

Miambient Volume One

If the opening montage on this compilation of chilled-out groove artists sounds like it was recorded inside Miami International Airport, that's because it actually was. Coproducer Mark Christopher plays it coy when asked just how he persuaded a ticket attendant to do a terminalwide broadcast over the airport's PA system for "Miambient voyagers -- destination South Beach." But he freely admits to standing on the tarmac with an outstretched microphone to capture the roar of a landing plane. It all adds up to the perfect intro for this cool collection of mostly local, dubbed-up and dreamy, laid-back electronic beats.
Some local musicians pitch a fit about the lack of a live music scene. After arriving from Los Angeles last year, pianist Arthur Hanlon set out to create a scene. Hanlon's monthly gig at The Globe in Coral Gables, where he jams with a quintet of outstanding local Latin players, is one of the most spirited Saturday night parties in town. Weeknights Hanlon can be found stroking the ivories in the Gaucho Room at the Loews Hotel, where he performs a mix of his original works (which he describes as "Motown blues with a Latin flavor") and piano-bar perennials. The baby-faced 32-year-old also released a CD of his Latin-tinged jazz, titled Encuentros, this year. Hard work never sounded so sweet.
The Balloon's pop lifts the better elements of late-Sixties songcraft (they even cover a Kinks tune) and incorporates them into a driving, urgent approach that leaves all the sissified alternacrap on the radio facedown on the ground. Tommy Anthony has long been one of South Florida's top songwriters, and he has the voice to carry his hooky-but-never-smarmy tunes to lofty heights. A listen to the CD Real will suggest that it was recorded at a major studio by a top-gun producer, its production values best described as glossy yet thick. In fact it was recorded by the band in Anthony's bedroom studio on consumer-grade equipment. The quartet's exhilarating live act takes those tunes to the next level. Anthony's front work receives immaculate support from guitarist/keyboardist John Allen, bassist Michael Quinn, and drummer Omar Hernandez (who backs Raul Di Blasio as well). If the group's sound reflects the late Sixties, so their career strategies embrace grassroots hippie ideology. No big-label deal. No video. No flavor-of-the-day hype machine. With nothing more than placement at the listening booth, the CD sold out at Tower Records in Chicago and Minneapolis. Miami, too, knows what time it is: New Times readers chose them as Best Rock Band last year. While waiting for the Balloon to take off nationally, Anthony tours as a guitarist for Jon Secada, a Four O'Clock fan. Now that's pop.
No surprises here. WDNA's nightly Latin-music marathon owns this category for an obvious reason: Latin music, especially in Miami, must include Cuban music, and WDNA is still the only area radio station consistently playing material from the island. That said, Fusion Latina deserves extra credit for airing a variety of Latin sounds as well as the viewpoints of its DJs; for playing the latest independent releases before they hit the streets; and for keeping listeners up-to-speed on the pan-Latin scene while teaching listeners about the evolution of Latin music through strategically programmed classics. Nightly from 8:00 to midnight, WDNA is the only Latin music outlet worth listening to.
After five years of kicking it locally and fathering some considerable buzz, The Artist Formerly Known as Trick Daddy Dollars has ridden his easy-swinging beats and hard rhymes into the Billboard Top 10. His first LP, Based on a True Story, cracked the R&B Top 100; his followup, www.thug.com, has pushed even higher, with the single "Nann Nigga" rising as high as number five on the rap chart. That tune's rude and riotous exchange between Trick and female rapper Trina is as nasty as Luther Campbell ever wanted to be, but Trick's sound features slower beats, slicker raps, and more melodic flourishes than Luke's brand of booty bass. Other standout cuts are street anthems "For the Thugs" and "Hold On," and the Blowflyesque "Suckin' Fuckin'." Trick, born and reared in Liberty City, achieved national airplay while on the locally based Slip-N-Slide Records, which has since inked a distribution deal with Atlantic. That means Trick Daddy's next release should soar to an even higher level.
From 1998's "Best Solo Musician" item about Midon: "... Hear him quickly before a major record label snaps him up." Snap. Now that Raul Midon is signed to BMG US Latin, you might think success has changed the long-time Miami resident. But the only thing that's changed is his name: The multilingual artist now goes simply by Midon. His debut CD, Gracias a la Vida, a collection of Latin classics, hit stores in January. Even so, our urging was a bit off. His busy gig schedule still allows for plenty of local shows in varied venues in various configurations (trio, solo, sitting in for jams). The flamenco-style guitarist's performances soar beyond the confines of a CD, with Midon adding skittering scats, surreal improvisations, and his signature trumpet tone (created vocally) to boleros, jazz standards, and bluesy originals. A man, a guitar, limitless musical accomplishment.

Prolific conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas is so in demand he often needs to appear in two places at once. On any given Sunday he can be found at the Lincoln Theatre in South Beach conducting an afternoon performance by the New World Symphony, where he's artistic director. Just a bit later, there he is on the other coast, wielding the baton at a San Francisco Symphony concert broadcast at 9:00 p.m. on WTMI-FM (93.1). What's even more amazing than Thomas's apparent faster-than-the-speed-of-sound feat is the amount of advertising during this two-hour broadcast: Commercials run only between works. An unusual approach for revenue-hungry WTMI, which has resorted to playing more movie soundtracks and hackneyed orchestral versions of hackneyed show tunes in an effort to widen listenership. Apparently on Sunday nights some things are still sacred.
With song titles such as "1 Horse Town" and "Cowboy Ways," the Holy Rollin' Hellfires are a little bit country, but a bootload of rock. After a series of rhythm-section changes, the Beach-based Hellfires solidified, released an eponymous CD, and can now be found detonating their yee-haw ya-yas from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys. The dinner-plate-size belt buckles worn by singer W.D. McKelvy (a.k.a. Billy Velvet) and the preponderance of cowboy hats among fans have more to do with Reverend Horton Heat than they do with Garth Brooks, while the stompin' cow-punky tunes about drinking, driving, and women strike that universal chord in male American rockers, spurring bouts of drinking, driving, and chasing women.

While WLRN-FM's (91.3) overnight institution Clint O'Neil remains a favorite, WDNA-FM's (88.9) Steve Radzi edges him out solely for the diversity of his playlist. Each Saturday beginning at noon, Radzi works his way through the entire history of Jamaican music, from early-Sixties ska to Seventies dub, from Eighties dancehall to the latest records fresh off the boat from Kingston. Try this simple and fun experiment: Take a radio along on your next Saturday-afternoon beach trip. Tune in to Radzi's show. Then attempt to argue the fact that nothing makes a better accompaniment to the rolling waves and crackling sand than Radzi's rock-steady selection of thick, skanking grooves.

Best Band To Break Up In Past Twelve Months

Fay Wray

Is it really the end? We fear it is. On a Saturday in February, guitarist Rob Coe and producer Jeremy DuBois are in the upstairs room of North Miami's Tapeworm studio, mixing songs for a new Fay Wray album. The following Thursday the fiery, clever, and (this description is becoming a cliché) Replacements-like band is playing its rip-roaring farewell show at Churchill's Hideaway. Always a bit tenuous (singer/lyricist Jeff London lives in Gainesville), the band made its live mark with mosh madness that often left its lead singer bloody and bruised. Although the urgency of the live act shattered London's lyrics into shards of shouted rage, on record the cleverness and irony come through loud and clear. London left the group to move to Denver. Until the reunion, spin those discs.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®