Last year Volumen Cero won Best Local Rock Band. So why is it pop this year? Musically the quartet, whose name translates to Zero Volume, tries on everything from power pop (the hit single "Hollywood") to Sixties-influenced Brit-pop. Frontman Luis Tamblay's voice is moody and evocative and versatile. The band's ability to play around with genres instead of bashing out garage and punk rock draws comparisons to similar-minded bands like Blur. That doesn't mean Volumen Cero is pop, per se, but rather that it is pop-minded enough to know it takes more than one approach to make a great album -- which, in this case, would be last year's Luces.

Readers Choice: Inner Voice

One of the Nineties' more beloved Miami underground rock outfits returns with a vault-scraping collection: previously unreleased studio sessions from 1997, a live-on-WLRN-FM set from 1992 (yes, Virginia, WLRN once aired rock and roll amid the NPR gabbing), and from that same year, a raucous live show from the now-defunct Beach club Washington Square. As this CD's title implies, the Holy Terrors have disbanded (keep your eyes peeled for the latest Interpol video on MTV and you'll spy Terrors drummer Sam Fogarino thumping away), but the music here is by no means of historical interest only. Underneath the paint-peeling Pixies-ish onslaught of guitars, and singer Rob Elba's often-shrieked vocals, is an unerring sense of songcraft. If nothing else, this was a group that knew a killer pop hook definitely makes the bitter medicine go down. For old fans, this archival release is a welcome reminder of the Holy Terrors' fearsome attack. For newcomers, it's proof the words Miami and genuinely exciting rock haven't always been mutually exclusive.

With a golden tenor and fabulous hair, Walter Lino has gracefully worked a multitude of piano joints in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. He's developed a cult following of drunks, sweater queens, and off-key beer-belters who take refuge around his baby grand for a dose of piano-and-bourbon therapy. And Lino delivers with virtuoso phrasing and twinkling eyes. One moment he seizes attention singing a dramatic flamenco or an Edith Piaf chanson. The next he lays back and lightly improvises behind the din of tipsy conversation. Try requesting, say, "Bali Ha'i" and Lino will likely vamp the South Pacific anthem while teasing you to step up and sing. Don't be shy. As one of Miami's classiest acts, Lino won't let you look bad.

JJ. Andre. Jorge. They've put together a "Latin" sound all their own, a slinky-violined, smoothly percussioned, poply tropical sound that sets them apart from the rest. And though the world knows them through their two outstanding CDs (the last, Caraluna, got them serious airtime) and tours, only Miami can call them "local." And how much more Miami can you get than this sound made by Jorge Villamizar from Colombia, André Lopes from Brazil, and José Javier Freire from Puerto Rico, who hooked up at the University of Miami. The trio is currently red hot, and we call them the best Latin band.

With the ever-evolving form of rock, it's not a stretch to say a band that combines hard guitar with house beats and rap lyrics falls into this category. This band's not afraid to try that mix of hip-hop and drum and bass and then kick in a few guitar riffs to back it up. The new technology age is here, and this band fits right in. To top it off, the members sing in Miami Spanglish and blend four nationalities, not including their parents'.

Readers Choice: The Voz

They aren't from Miami. They hail from Fort Lauderdale. And they may not be innovative, plying a brand of sleazy garage punk (à la the Queers circa Grow Up) that's been bandied about for years. But it doesn't matter. The Heatseekers have that elusive quality, that totally unquantifiable rock and roll thing that moves audiences and propels their songs along like a drunk in a '57 Chevy, careening between the highway guardrails. They go down like bourbon and make you want to fuck or fight or both. Josh Menendez, garage-rock DJ and the driving force behind the mod-themed weekly party Revolver, says the Heatseekers always get the crowd going. "They have a lot of energy and a great stage presence. Definitely one of the best shows in town."

Readers Choice: dear starlet

The recent passing of legendary producer Tom Dowd returned the Hit Factory Criteria to the media spotlight, reminding us all that the North Miami studio was the creative birthing spot for so many seminal albums, from Derek and the Dominos' 1970 Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs to the Bee Gees' 1977 Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to Bob Dylan's 1997 aesthetic return-to-form comeback Time Out of Mind. Yet what often gets overlooked is the appeal of the studio itself. Indeed it wasn't just Dowd's own production techniques that had drawn a musical who's who to work with him here. As important as the sounds being laid down on any session is the equipment being used to capture it -- and this studio's analog-style mixing boards, vintage microphones, and sumptuous wooden acoustics have artists from Christina Aguilera to DMX catching flights into Miami when it comes time to record. Accordingly, studio time at the Hit Factory Criteria is pricey, and a few weeks' worth of work can easily produce a hefty six-figure bill; this isn't the spot to cut your garage band's demo. But if you're on a major-label budget, the dizzyingly infatuated look engineers take on when gabbing about the equipment at hand seems justification enough for running up that tab.

Frank Consola is the hardest-working man in Miami radio. At least nonprofit radio. He's on the air twenty hours a week at community-supported WDNA-FM, Miami's "jazz and rhythm station." Monday through Friday Consola is at the console hosting 88 Jazz Place from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. He does this as a volunteer -- without pay. How's that for dedication? The Brooklyn-born Consola has been pitching in at the station since the late Eighties. How's that for commitment? The show itself is an eclectic mix of jazz styles, varying from day to day. One highlight is the "Top Ten at 10," a Wednesday feature at 10:00 a.m. in which he counts down the week's top-selling jazz albums.

January 2002 saw Miami's only full-time classical station, WTMI (93.1 FM), convert to modern dance music. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and for a time the occasional hour of classical programming on public radio was the only place to get a taste of Brahms. In September 2002, however, WKAT switched from Spanish-language radio to 24-hour classical programming, including one hour reserved for playing symphonic works in their entirety without interruptions. "It's ballsy of them to run something without commercials, considering that they're a commercial radio station," says host Matt Gitkin, a University of Miami theater professor who also hosts WKAT's The Open Road, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Gitkin got the gig because he could "pronounce the composers' names and the names of the pieces" and says that for his first few months on the air he had constant phone calls from grateful music fans. "People really missed having something like this on the air -- especially something like Symphony at Seven, where you might get a 36-minute piece with no breaks."

If you can get past the self-conscious college-kid precociousness of the VUM DJs, Wednesday night features two rock programs worth listening to. First up: From 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. distort your speakers with the mono stylings of It Came From the Garage. This fuzzed-out blast of garage rock is unabashedly primitive, and beats the hell out of the latest Puddle of Mudd, or whatever passes for hard rock on FM radio these days. By 10:00 p.m., listeners have been loosened up by the garage rock and maybe a few drinks, so VUM drops all pretense of punker-than-thou coolness and indulges in straight-up big hair riffs with Metal Revolution. The program, on the air until 1:00 a.m., is perfect for those who still secretly love harmonized twin guitar solos and the rumble of double-bass drums, and for those who never hung up the jean jacket with the skull and crossbones patch on the back.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®