Gingerbread Dog (Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records)
Here's another sunshine gem that slipped through the fried-chicken-greasy fingers of your local hipster sheriffs. The band has, of course, broken up since this 11-track CD came out, with Tom Gorrio (guitar, keys, vox) marrying bandmate Jackie Biver (bass, keys, vox) and going off to do Call It Radar (which then broke up). Arik Dayan lends his drum/percussion skills to the outfit here with more didactic panache than on the previous recording (Fifteen Year Old Sneakers). In any case, I was sad to see these guys go but am rather happy they took the time to document their sound, and I seriously recommend this album for fans of some seriously saccharine power pop.
Jan Sebon and Kazak International
Peyi Mwen (My Country) (self-released)
Our more cultured readers will recognize Jan Sebon as a one-man Haitian cultural dynamo who has been a fixture of South Florida's artistic scene as a poet, bandleader, musician, and visual artist. His outfit, Kazak International, has been performing since 1985, and that's the kind of rare longevity we usually take for granted down here. His blend of mizik rasin, jazz, world, blues, and even a little kompa is as danceable as it is edifying. This package contains four solid numbers that can raise hell during any type of celebration, as well as an informative DVD application containing a six-minute documentary, plus some streaming audio with an images gallery. Fun stuff.
Map of the Universe
Party Size (Spy-Fi Records)
Mike, Ed, and Ivan have been making some serious noise locally with their infectious Map of the Universe trio. It's poppy, shoegaze postpunk with elements of New Wave and early alternative music (think Violent Femmes and Pixies) with a decidedly "we are from South Florida and we eat tropical punk rock for breakfast" kind of braggadocio. The four tracks on this EP kick a little ass. "Who Wants to Know" is a good opener, followed by the starry, fuzzed-out guitar of "Articles." The closing "Do Something to Me" and "Eyes on the Back of My Head" are straightforward rockers with some good vocal work. Everything here is solid, and the recording quality seems a little cleaner than on previous efforts. But you know I can't go on with this happy shit without pointing out a little problem: Awright, geniuses, we got three EPs — when's the full-length coming?!