In a pop world where satisfaction is measured by how long a song sticks in listeners' brains, nothing is stickier than a Shufly hook. That's due to the songwriting duo of Scott Smith, whose short, sharp lyrics always seem truthful without every word being troublingly profound, and lead guitarist Mike Sharpe, whose melodies stroke rather than tax the brain. Smith and Sharpe have also had the good sense to seek solid backing in the form of percussionist Mario Palacios, drummer Paul Voteller, rhythm guitarist Mandy Rua, and especially bassist Matthew Coogan, an ensemble that adds depth and musical interest to the shiny surface presented by the frontmen. Just ask any of Shufly's rabidly faithful fans -- regular attendance at the sixsome's shows will leave you feeling "Wonderful."
The pop-radio wars have just begun. Dance-only upstart WPYM-FM (93.1) calls out the big dogs at Power 96 to put up or shut up. Power takes the bait and responds decisively. Sure it plays more commercials, and it saturates us regularly with hip-hop we've heard before, but Power still spins the better dance music, particularly after hours, and it gets bonus points for effectively mixing two very distinct and progressive urban sounds. It doesn't hurt to have competitors dropping Power 96's name so ridiculously often. Latin grooves still reign in the Magic City, but like it or not hip-hop is now and dance is the future. Power has them both covered and plenty of advertisers to keep it in business.
People sometimes wonder just how New Times selects "Best of Miami" winners. It is a highly scientific process devised long ago by a select committee of experts and requires the participation of more than 100 judges from around the world who take up residence in the Magic City for the entire year and do nothing but eat, drink, and listen to music, giving themselves over to every form of diversion and recreation without ever losing objectivity. There is also a lot of bullying by wannabe winners, but we ignore that. Relax, Lee. The judges love the Square Egg, especially those hailing from Hong Kong and Mombassa. What's not to love about a man who can deliver a rap smoother than his pate, celebrating the virtues of womanhood while slinking low on the down beat in just the way your mama warned you about. And the band? All that jazz-funk-hip-hop-blues-soul spooned together promiscuous-like, feeling up your backside, lapping at your ears. We need to be lobbied on this? Just let it flow, baby. The Square Egg will take you there.

Think of sound as a galaxy, a shimmering play of lights. Think of guitars, horns, and keyboards as so many sparkling arrows, so many zodiac signs, pointing to the glowing nebula of Rocky Ordoñez's and Erica Boynton's angelic voices. That is how you would see the sound that Christopher Moll, the band's big bang, has created. The six-piece ensemble is not just the brightest star in South Florida's indie firmament but also the surrounding pattern of light and dark, the whole flickering texture that leads the eye there. Our only complaint is that we don't get to See Venus enough.
Being a cineaste in Miami means making your peace with malls. Over the past few years most choice indies and foreign flicks have landed at either the eighteen-screen South Beach Regal or one of the area's other multiplexes -- not our hit-and-miss art houses. So getting your celluloid fix has meant braving arena-size crowds and nightmarish parking. Fortunately the new Intracoastal Cinema has stepped into a comfortable middle ground, consistently earmarking several of its six screens for art fare. Even better, Mitchell and Nancy Dreier, the couple who own the Intracoastal (as well as five Broward theaters including the Gateway and the Sunrise), have moved past the usual Miramax suspects to spotlight such fare as the joyously whacked Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation, Charlotte Rampling's haunting comeback Under the Sand, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's timely Kandahar. Plenty of free parking just steps from the front door, big screens, cushy seats, and (in stark contrast to most multiplexes) a relaxed air all combine to make moviegoing an experience instead of a trial.
This ain't the Waverly in Greenwich Village or anything, but it's as close as Miami gets. Part of the pleasure of going to the Cosford is meandering through that gorgeous, lush (and very non-NYC) University of Miami campus. The magic room on the second floor of Memorial Hall is where we get to see, a year or two after the New York crowd does, the recent labors of European directors and their counterparts in the Americas and elsewhere. Among the films on Cosford's multinational marquee this year were French director Jean-Pierre Ameris's Bad Company, a tale of twisted adolescent love and sex; Runaway, an English-Iranian documentary by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini set in a women's shelter in Tehran; and Israeli director Joseph Cedar's Time of Favor, a drama involving a Jewish soldier who plans a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. And let's not forget the latest screen gems from Canada. "Maelström [director Denis Villeneuve's 2001 opus] is the most celebrated work in French Canadian film history," Cosford's program guide proclaims. The theater screens two films each week. Movie nights are Friday through Sunday. The downside to the Cosford: It's closed during the summer. The schedule is online at www.miami.edu/com/cosford. Admission is five dollars for the general public, three bucks for senior citizens and university employees, and free for UM students. Take Granada Boulevard into the university and look for the signs, which will take you to Campo Sano Avenue and the parking lot. Best to call for directions.
Heartily pounding out the rousing "St. Louis Blues" or gently improvising on the tranquil bossa nova melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobim, eminent pianist Eddie Higgins always puts his indelible stamp on the keys. The Massachusetts-born and raised musician gravitated to Chicago to study at Northwestern University and stayed twenty years. Countless Windy City club dates together with a long list of greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, and Cannonball Adderley morphed into a twelve-year tenure at the London House, where he led the trio. The moments out of dark, smoky rooms have been spent touring the world and in recording studios as a solo artist, an arranger, or a sideman to the likes of Wayne Shorter, Jack Teagarden, and Coleman Hawkins. Thirty-two years ago, Higgins landed on the sandy shores of Fort Lauderdale and has been plying his deft skills around South Florida ever since. His elegant playing can be heard at various concerts and during the week at the Van Dyke Café on Lincoln Road. Just make sure you catch him in the high season. In the summer, he escapes to Cape Cod.
Film and theater directors and actors, poets and writers have been allowing audience members to have at them for years in frank exchanges about content and merit, seriousness and triviality. Now the Rubell family, boutique hoteliers and major art collectors, are applying the principle to visual artists. Several times a year accomplished artists like Jeff Koons, Andres Serrano, Ross Bleckner, Cindy Sherman, and Damien Hirst will display their work and appear in the cozy Bamboo Room of the Rubell's Beach House hotel to talk about art with fans and perhaps less-than-fans. So far this year's artists have included Rineke Dijkstra, the famed Dutch chronicler of youth at bay (April 25), and Maurizio Cattelan, the impish sculptor who portrayed Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite and got the art world all upset (May 2).
Okay, so it's not an album, it's a three-song EP, but then, as they say, it's not the length that matters, it's what you do with it. And this little disc is more an act of protest than a digital artifact. Dismayed by the faux-phenomenon surrounding Brit crit darlings the Strokes, the Hair did what any angry underemployed all-too-inventive band would do: stroked back. Jeff Rollason and friends burned up a batch of stroke-anti-stroke sarcasm to distribute to unsuspecting fans at the Strokes Billboardlive show -- and the songs don't sound half-bad! If, as the original rock critic Lester Bangs claims, David Bowie's stardust-sparkling whine was a response to the carefully posed amateur cool of the Velvet Underground (who the Strokes flagrantly rip off), there's just as much whiny sparkle here. And as legend has it, Strokes pretty-boy frontman Julian Casablancas even signed a copy!

Most of Miami's rap hopefuls dream of the day their big break arrives in the form of a major-label record contract. Once they've signed on the dotted line, so their thinking goes, everything else is automatic: fame and fortune, groupies and gold teeth. Right? Not always. Take local emcee X-Con, whose independently issued single "Whoa! Lil' Mama" generated enough of a buzz to snag a deal with major Elektra. And if you opened up glossy hip-hop mags such as The Source, XXL, and Vibe last winter, you were greeted with full-page ads announcing the imminent arrival of X-Con's debut album. But good luck actually finding a copy of Dirty Life in the stores: The execs over at Elektra unceremoniously dumped X-Con from their roster immediately upon his album's release, cutting all promotional support, even refusing to answer questions about the matter. A somewhat chagrined X-Con isn't talking either about this mysterious career setback; rumors have been flying, citing everything from an aggrieved CEO with a personal beef to an abrupt change of heart over the rapper's commercial prospects. As to the latter charge, the curious can decide for themselves by rooting around Morpheus or other sites. Your downloads won't get X-Con any closer to MTV, but they won't put any change in Elektra's pockets either -- a dirty life, indeed.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®