R&B, for cool kids at least, has been out in the cold for years, looking in from the outside as hipsters embraced every genre from roots country to cumbia to metal. Now, finally, R&B looks ready to re-enter the fold of what's cool, relevant, and fresh, as artists such as Frank Ocean and Abel Tesfaye not only receive wide-spread accolades from music critics but also sell tons of records and concert tickets. Growing in that same vein is Miami's own Steven A. Clark, who imbues his soulful songs with a distinct gravity. Somehow he doesn't lose the airy elegance and grace from note to note that's always been characteristic of the best R&B songs, from Seal's classics to Ocean's modern odes to smoothness. Clark's body of work — a debut EP, Stripes, and the follow-up LP, Fornication Under Consent of the King — showcases a diverse sense of style and a keen sense of musicianship that become all the more palpable when you take into account that nearly every one of the songs, which can all be downloaded at Clark's website, was not only written but also produced by this silky-voiced, provocative singer-songwriter. Listen to tracks such as "F.U.C.K. Pt. 1" and "The Haunting" and it's tough to argue the point that R&B is damn cool again. Even better, thanks to Clark, Miami has its very own contribution to the world of grooving seduction and lyrical lovemaking.

Grand Central

Who would have thought the once-bratty Johnny Rotten (né John Lydon) of the pioneering mid-'70s UK punk band the Sex Pistols would front a follow-up group that would still have any sort of creative verve in the following millennium? Yet when Public Image Ltd took the stage at Miami's Grand Central last October, they put on a brilliant, vital show with musicianship and social consciousness to boot that would shame most hipster acts of today. Many a young musician could learn something from PiL. For aged punks/postpunkers, the talent onstage was consistently impressive, and — in an even rarer move for Miami shows — they started right on time. Guitarist Lu Edmonds occasionally played an electric saz (a Middle Eastern stringed instrument) and shone during songs that never lost their unrelenting groove. Lydon's voice shifted and morphed from warbles to buzz-saw growls and barks across many a meandering song, including back-catalogue highlights such as "This Is Not a Love Song" and "U.S.L.S. 1" to brand-new numbers like "Reggie Song." The audience, which ranged from late-'70s punks to kids who grew up in the '90s MTV alternative nation, mostly nodded along, though an even older crowd managed to pogo for a few minutes at a time. Aging legs in the crowd or not, PiL barreled through a two-hour set as a brilliantly preserved relic with nothing to prove. They were skilled, mature musicians putting on an earnest show for a crowd more interested in the music than making an appearance on the scene. In the Magic City, that's a rare achievement indeed.

Have you seen that new video for that Kodiak Fur song "Lips"? It's crazy. There's this superhot blond chick. She's like a hooker or something. She goes over to this dude's hotel room and strips down to her lingerie. Then she leans over the guy and just starts sucking. I mean, this chick is like a human Dyson vacuum. She doesn't let up. She's slurping up every last drop, and then when she's done, she licks her lips to make sure she's got it all. Wait, Mom, ew. I'm not talking about a porno. Why would I tell you about that? It's like some artsy music video for a promising local electro-dream-pop quartet. She's not sucking, you know — she's like some demon sucking the life force out of this dude's mouth. They barely even touch. It's like some special effects. You used to drag me to all those French films at the art-house cinema when I was a kid, so I just wanted to get your opinion on what you thought it, you know, meant. Never mind!

Little Hoolie's Sports Bar & Grill

Some bars are dubbed "dives" based solely on cheap prices and low lighting. But others earn their cred based on more fundamental assets: a perpetual cloud of cigarette smoke, well-worn pool tables, deep-fried foodstuffs, and a colorful cast of constantly inebriated characters. Little Hoolie's has earned its stripes the real way — through years of doling out stiff drinks to thirsty boozers from Kendall and South Miami. Roll up to the strip mall and easily snag a spot in the ample parking lot. Drink a cheap pitcher or two and take the stage for a round of karaoke without fear of ridicule. Play a game of pool with a wannabe hustler. Nosh on the famous Hoolie's Blue Balls, fried ham-and-Swiss-stuffed chicken ($7.95). Happy hour starts at 11 a.m. weekdays, so you've got a whopping nine hours to get your discounted-drink on. Plus you can score $9 domestic pitchers when the Dolphins, Hurricanes, Marlins, and white-hot Heat are playing. It's a southern comfort zone all its own.

Magnum Lounge

Magnum is like that old friend who, no matter how many years pass between visits, always stays awesomely, delightfully, perfectly the same. This piano bar seems to be an anomaly — in the best way possible — in a city obsessed with what's new and on trend. Why shouldn't Magnum be comfortable sticking to what it knows: belting out classic tunes and whipping up stiff drinks. There is no fuss here. You won't find "expert mixologists" or the city's hottest DJ. Instead, the dark ambiance begs you to cozy up to the bar and order a classic dirty martini. (There isn't a cocktail menu here, so don't bother asking for one.) And calling this place a "gay bar" does a disservice to the eclectic clientele that visits the lounge week after week seeking live music, amazing fried chicken, and fantastic drinks. Magnum isn't a gay bar; it's a bar that just happens to be gay. And once this city's obsession with the cocktail tomfoolery ends, Magnum will be there to welcome you back with a drink and a song. Just be sure to tip your bartender and piano man.

Bryson's Irish Pub

Wanna sip thick, creamy pints of Guinness in an authentic Irish pub? Go book a flight to Dublin, you wanker. If, however, you're simply looking to get rat-arsed at a nice, smoky spot while waiting for Aer Lingus jet planes to finish fueling up on leprechaun piss at Miami International Airport, meet us at Bryson's, a Miami Springs bar and liquor store that's painted white and green and adorned with four-leaf clovers. Inside, this joint is all wood paneling, tile floors, neon signs, big-screen TV sets, and fake-leather booths. There's no 1,000-year-old ornamental timber or bloodied shillelagh behind the bar. But the beer is cold. The burgers are thick. The whiskey is Jameson. And the regulars are cops, contractors, ex-military types, working-class drunks, hard-partying gals, neighborhood nobs, sweet chippies, and the like. Of course, though, the ultimate evidence of Bryson's being the dog's bollocks are the house rules, which prove that this brood can get just as weird and rowdy as a real gang of native Irish: "No fighting, shoving, scratching, biting, nor touching of the hair and face." So drink, eat, be merry. But keep those hands to yourself, boyo.

"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name..." Eh, forget that Cheers crap. What you really want is a solid bar in your hood where you can grab a drink without anyone judging you. In other words, a comfortable spot. When you're in the northern reaches of Dade County, there's no better bet than Our Place. Legend has it a bar patron once walked through the door in pink cupcake pajamas. No one batted an eye. This lovely hole in the wall is situated inside a small shopping center on the Miami Lakes border with Hialeah, right off the NW 67th Avenue exit of the Palmetto Expressway. Inside, patrons include happy lushes soaking up DJ Manny's Top 40 tunes, shady booze-hounds itching for a bar brawl, and smooth-drinking hustlers looking to take a few suckers at a game of pool or poker. Drinks are cheap and stronger than Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez at the height of his supremacy. With its wood-paneled and red-brick walls, superchill bar staff, and quirky crowd, Our Place has that odd charm that draws you in for a cold brew. Before you know it, you're doing Jäger bombs till last call.

Clandestino Pub

"México Sabroso y Alcohólico":

In the evening I wake

from a SoBe siesta,

mouth dry as a salt lake,

and go in search of fiesta.

Cubans sip cortadito.

Tourists flock to the clubs.

I head to Clandestino

and order some suds.

México sabroso y alcohólico

at Clandestino Pub.

A rare spot for a chico

to get craft beer and grub.

Stouts, blondes, and ales

fill pint glass after glass.

While 80 bottles of beer can't fail

to put me on my ass.

Masks of luchadores,

bright paintings six feet tall,

posters of toreadores,

decorate the tavern walls.

México sabroso y alcohólico

at Clandestino Pub.

A rare spot for a chico

to get craft beer and grub.

Good movies on display,

live music in the rear,

tacos, nachos, ceviche,

and hot dogs cooked in beer.

Other spots I've gone

B-girls have robbed me blind,

But here I drink till dawn

with total peace of mind.

México sabroso y alcohólico

at Clandestino Pub.

A rare spot for a chico

to get craft beer and grub.

PAX Miami

Strange thing: In Miami, it's always been hard to find a place that does interesting Spanish-language music. But all that changed in 2011 when art buyer Roxanne Scalia opened PAX in a former Miami Herald distribution center under an I-95 overpass. Scalia and business partner Danny Davila renovated the space in urban chic, or urban cheap, or something like that. It's a secret, cool, interesting place to catch intriguing and entertaining bands such as Spam Allstars, Suénalo, and DJ Le Spam. That's not all there is, though. How about Tango Tuesdays, when you can pay $5 and learn a little something about Latin dance? And there's more than just Latin music here, but PAX is the top spot in Miami for this kind of melody. So head over and baile, you fool. You won't regret it.

Tobacco Road

Tobacco Road's claims to fame are numerous: Oldest bar in Miami. Ex-downstairs neighbor to Miami New Times' first office space. Greatest outdoor seating this side of South Beach. Now, thanks to a recent revamp that left the nicotine-stained, beer-soaked ambiance but added some gleam to the indoor stage, the Road can add another accolade to the list as one of Dade's premier spots for local bands to rock out. Along with the renovation, the Road hired a new booking agent and new production director, a team committed to bringing original, quality local and touring acts to the space and making sure they sound amazing. Tobacco Road usually throws in a little something extra too, like during the recent South Florida Musicians' Get Together, when a free pig roast and drink specials for the bands came with a day of great jams. Call it proof positive that the Road is one venue feeding Miami's music scene — both literally and figuratively.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®