Cop City, This Heart Electric, Luma Junger, and the New Wave of South Florida Rock

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For 31 years, the numerous, ever-increasing stages at gritty, surreal, and spectacular Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti has been where Miami rock music goes to define itself.

A quick scan of the assorted press and awards (including endless clippings for Miami New Times Best Rock Club nods) reveal only a fraction of the names -- big and small, spanning genres, scenes and the most disparate social circles -- that have considered the bar their music's home base.

Churchill's has served as ground zero for many of South Florida's best and/or biggest musical exports. And in the wake of the still-blooming Jacuzzi Boys, the club has a new wave of rock music on its hands.

Last Friday, the bar hosted a local showcase that provided attendees a crash course in what South Florida rock has in store for 2012.

The evolution of This Heart Electric, the longtime solo outlet for Death To The Sun curator Ricardo Guerrero, has perfectly paralleled Miami's emerging crop of guitar-based racket. From gloomy but danceable post-punk synth-pop, Guerrero has refocused the project as a breezy acoustic rock -- lo-fi and garage with distant Americana twang and a fresh tone courtesy of unplugging -- that Rat Bastard compared (via heckle) to The Mekons. Last Friday's particular incarnation of the band featured members from a ridiculously overlapping mess of bands including 90s Teen, hahahelp!, Animals of he Arctic, Dino Felipe, and MEAT.

Meanwhile, Luma Junger are a new-ish synth-rock trio featuring members past and present of Biscayne Corridor scene standards like Snakehole, Dracula, and Psychic Mirrors. Synth rock is as close to an easy description one is going to get with this group as it employs a synthesizer and also rock. But from song to song, the genre variances are so great -- icy post-punk, Talking Heads-style New Wave, burly psychedelic rock -- that it takes seeing the group live to really understand what's going on.

In 2010, Lake Worth's Cop City/Chill Pillars began to infect the tri-county area with its classically informed yet wildly innovative take on noise, groove, and humor. After proving its merit as a live act, 2011 was all about the band's first definitive recorded statement, Held Hostage on Planet Chill, which was lauded by everyone from Still Single to Vice. If the above video is any indicator, The Pillars' agenda for 2012 will likely include more of the same and then some.

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