The Best Local Albums of 2009, Part Three of Four

Click to read parts one and two of this list.
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Jacobs Ladder 
Ours For The Taking (JMB Records)
Look past the complicated MySpace presence, deliberately goofy promo photos, hell, even the hair of this Miami threesome. Jacobs Ladder is not yet another color-by-numbers pop-punk band. Sure, in some of the tunes there are hints of that genre's penchant for choral whoa-oh-ohs and sweeping melodies, just made for crowd clap-a-longs. How else would this band be so wildly popular on the national all-ages circuit, which it's traversed for basically the past three straight years? 

But listen to the whole of this self-released EP, produced by New Found Glory's Cyrus Bolooki. The hookiness eventually gives way to some real band-nerd weirdness. (In fact, the threesome first formed back in 2002, when all were rock ensemble players at Beach High). There is interplanetary prog, astral reggae, even a tiny bit of vaguely jazzy noodling. Somehow, it all works out into a tight, bright thing that translates into high-octane live shows that sail along on waves of good vibes. This record is a worthy snapshot of it all. -- Arielle Castillo

Dreaming in Stereo
Dreaming in Stereo (Dying Van Gogh Records)
Under the new name Dreaming in Stereo, local whiz kid Fernando Perdomo proves that he's a genuine one-man band, a master of reliable hooks, deep textures, and instrumental arrangements that enable these melodies to soar. Likewise, his lyrical twists offer a knowing view of the music biz and the various pitfalls that otherwise snag the unsuspecting. "Steal This Song" rails against the blight of illegal downloads, while "I'm Not Gonna Move to L.A." affirms his loyalty to the South Florida scene. That's admirable, but considering the savvy and strengths shown here, he's certain to snare success regardless of where he resides. - Lee Zimmerman 

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