The Waterford Landing is a group of four extremely creative musicians -- Alex Caso (synths, vocals), Ed Matus (electric guitars, synth, drum programming, vocals), Richard Rippe (synths, electric Fender bass, vocals), and Neil Rippe (drum set) -- who, with the release of their self-titled debut album (which you can buy for $12 at www.appliedchaotics.com) and constant live performances (see myspace.com/thewaterfordlanding for dates and locations), have amassed a solid local following. In fact this is their fourth Best Of award. The Waterford Landing is a pop band in the best sense, capturing the catchy yet personal, thoughtful spirit of Dark Wave/New Wave greats like Magnetic Fields, New Order, Cocteau Twins, and Joy Division, all of which Caso lists as influences. "Skylark," the second song on their album, is a perfect mix of warm synths, catchy melody, danceable drums, and heartbreaking lyrics. The Waterford Landing is very much an electronic band, but that doesn't mean you'll find the band members behind laptops at live performances; instead they'll be turning up the distortion on their guitars (Matus might be handing someone in the crowd his axe) and letting the "wall of sound," as Caso calls it, blast through the speakers.
Tango music is meant to be seen and heard. The tango fest, an annual nine-day extravaganza, features the best in tango music from Buenos Aires. This year the festival will grace the Deauville Hotel, and the Orquesta Gente de Tango will play live sets every night. The bandmates promise such a vast repertoire that they won't repeat a set even once over the duration of the festival. In their off-time, the Gente de Tango members will give clinics to aspiring musicians. But that's just one element of the music: Not only will you get to hear incredible, authentic milongas, but also you can watch tango greats such as Eduardo and Gloria Arquimbau (of Tango Argentino and Forever Tango fame), Fabian Salas and Carolina del Rivero, Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Ermocida, and other legendary couples perform flinty boleos, graceful ochos, and romantic tango waltzes. Single women who wish to dance get an extra boost: This year there will be ten "Taxi Dancers," those sexy Argentine tangueros who will switch partners to keep everyone's feet busy. If you can't make this year's festival (May 26 to June 3), check out the music and dancing at founder Lydia Henson's Tango Fantasy Milonga at the American/Czechoslovak Cultural Club (13325 Arch Creek Road, North Miami) from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. every Saturday.
We can all learn a lot from Trick Daddy. What are dub deuces? How does one get low to the floor? And how does one get that cream? If we pay attention, we could end up like Trick: with six cars, including a green monster truck in front of our mansion. Trick, who put Miami on the mainstream rap map with his four gold albums, is all over MTV and the radio, dominating the charts with songs like "Sugar (Gimme Some)" and the Ozzy Osbourne-sampled "Let's Go" from his latest album, his sixth, Thug Matrimony, which is headed for platinum status with 804,000 units sold. There is also word of an MTV series called Cookin' with Trick Daddy, in which he will make anything except chitlins because they, as he says, "smell like ass." The real reason Trick deserves this award is that, along with his devotion to children, his work is not cliché. Trick's authenticity strikes a chord, which is why he has spawned so many "Dirty South" copycats. He's creative and versatile, able to make a booty song, but also politically thoughtful (listen to the single "Amerika"). Trick is definitely a savvy businessman, turning Slip-N-Slide Records into a blue chip from scratch, but he's not selling empty boxes. His production is always catchy and interesting, and his lyrics are consistently creative and truthful.
Three young MCs -- Afterlogic, Newsense, and Parable -- all Miami natives, form the hip-hop trio SoulWhat?, which can be seen making the rounds at live music venues including I/O and Metropolis. But it is from the giant, borderless trunk called the Internet -- using a simple Website and a PayPal account -- that they deliver their fun, smart hip-hop full-length Rewind: Bringing Back the Future, released in 2005. Rewind may be one of the most important albums to come out of Miami in a long time. It's one of the very few to deliver the creative, thoughtful lyricism that has been almost nonexistant in the local music scene. Like all great hip-hop music, Rewind reaches listeners because the performers, with no pressure from a record label, use the album as a medium to actually say what they feel, and can get creative with sound. One of the tracks, "SoulWhat? vs. Beck," samples Beck's mid-Nineties hit "Loser," which along with the trio's brilliant flow makes for an interesting and wonderful mashup. "Gift of Gab" is laid-back and smooth, like Common's earlier work, with a perfect, mellow electric jazz guitar loop. But there's really no need for a review when you can buy the album for only $2 at www.soulwhat.net.
Romulo del Castillo and Josh Kay, Miami natives who form the electronic duo Phoenecia, started Schematic Records in 1996 in Perrine with friends Push Button Objects and Seven, founder of Chocolate Industries, the label that debuted Prefuse 73. "We are an artist-run label/collective. We have no intent on running a real business," Castillo says. "If it sells, great. If not, great." Schematic boasts an impressive roster of electronic musicians, including Secret Frequency Crew, Otto Von Schirach, and Dino Felipe, all of whom are receiving heavy rotation on radio stations such as the University of Miami's WVUM (90.5 FM). The label seems to attract and encourage amazingly creative, diverse artists from all over the world, ranging from the loud, distorted Hearts of Darknesses (listen to "Air Guitar" on their 2003 album, Music for Drunk Driving) to the low-key melodic beauty of Secret Frequency Crew (check out "Aqua" on the group's 2005 album, The Underwater Adventure Hop Secret Treasure). Despite its founders' claimed lack of business ambition, Schematic has artists whose albums are featured on iTunes, so you can hear samples of the work for yourself.
Calling Shuttle Lounge a band is like calling the online community World of Warcraft a videogame. Like the latter, Shuttle Lounge is an environment, a lifestyle. Stuff happens, some of it bad, most of it thrilling. The members of Shuttle Lounge -- Dik Shuttle, Ca$$iu$ Casio KRS "le juan" Love Sebastian Bacherach de la Fenderr Rrhodes, Deuces, Major Whitey Herzog, MalcomxXx, and RavelSTEIN, are inhabited presences who are in character for each and every second of every performance. (And there are a lot of performances, most of them at Churchill's, but ShuttleLoungeLand laps all across SoFla.) The band calls itself a "lounge act," hence the name, and the shtick does include quite a bit of Bill-Murray-as-that-guy-patter, but the lineup is straight-ahead rock: several guitars, some horns, and a really large drum kit. Shuttle Lounge has cover tunes and it has original tunes, but what it seems to excel at is a sort of original-cover mashup, sometimes writing new lyrics for existing melodies and often throwing snippets of lyrics -- a kind of "found poetry" approach -- from other songs as well as au courant pop culture catch phrases into band-written scores. Even if you don't get Dik Shuttle's asides about the inadequacies of parking on the swale or living in suburban Broward County, a Shuttle Lounge live show is infectiously entertaining, and, yes, maybe this is the "lounge" influence too, even a little classy. Even at Churchill's.
Despite his affinity for street performing, Jesse Jackson is not homeless or down on his luck. But if the slim, scruffy guitar player on Lincoln Road asks if he can play you a song, let him. Don't worry -- despite sharing a name with a famous outspoken reverend -- the soulful folk singer won't preach to you. You will, however, leave a fan. And with numerous gigs at venues like Stop Miami, the recent Langerado Festival, and Churchill's, he's acquiring lots of followers -- and it took him only five years.
A spacy hippie chick raised in Miami, Raffa Jo Harris is half of folk duo Raffa and Rainer. Her beautifully sensitive ballads are about coincidences, friends, love -- all the sweet things in life -- and they're usually prefaced with a kind of story-behind-the-song. She's often compared to a sweeter Joni Mitchell, and, says one fan, she can make the hardest person go all mushy. Perhaps her next gig should be on I-95 during rush hour.
19th Hole Bar and Grill at the Biltmore
A sexy librarian walks into another bar. She is still looking for the perfect man, but tonight she settles for the companionship of a perfect martini. Over the years her fickle taste has migrated from gin to vodka. (Go ahead and call her a heathen, but James Bond jumped the juniper berry ship and never looked back.) A year older, a year wiser, and the bar code on her library card a little worse for wear, the bibliophile has gone dirty but still wants class. This swanky bar set in the terribly romantic Biltmore Hotel has the feel of an intimate parlor, with brocade settees, warm candlelight, and black-and-white photos adorning the walls. The charming Octavio mixes a superb beverage -- shaken with enough vigor to splinter the ice without diluting the spirits -- and is happy to lend a sympathetic ear as the librarian scans the room for a traveling businessman who'd be happy to pay for her $14 cocktail (yes, it's a bit much, but that's what you pay for top-shelf in this town). As she sips her seductively smooth and salty libation, the librarian spies a diamond-studded Cartier timepiece on a handsome suit. He extends his hand to make her acquaintance, but the flash of a gold wedding band immediately redirects her gaze across the bar, where she spies a rugged outdoor type holding a Bill Bryson book in one hand and a martini in the other. She smoothes her skirt and lets down her hair before she crosses the room to see how the next chapter of her delicious novel will unfold.
There's no denyin' that hip-hop/reggae artist Fitzroy has sprung like a lion onto Miami's modern multicultural music scene this year. In only a matter of months, the Bajan journalist-turned-singer became a bar-hold name, packing the house at Jazzid, Transit Lounge, and the patio of Stop Miami, while he swung his massive mane of dreads and sang to the Most High. His sound has a modern, urban flair, enhanced by echoing hip-hop and sound bytes to create a naturally mystic ambiance. Add that to a strong voice, a knack for contemplative lyrics, and a whole lotta stage charisma, complete with cheeky Caribbean humor. His business card reads, "Fitzroy: Available for weddings, birthdays, exorcisms, and resurrections." The artist is packaging those ritual practices on his album Paradise Low, which he hopes to release this spring.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®