A year's round-up of the best local albums, without an entry from Awesome New Republic, would be like a South Florida summer that is actually mild and pleasant. Unthinkable, right? Just like summer here is predictably torturous, ANR is always predictably, um, the opposite of torturous -- oh, forgive the serious abuse of flowery language here. John Hancock and Brian Robertson always turn out the best in smooth, Prince-loving white-boy punk-funk, end of. Since they gave away Rational Geographic Volumes I and II for free, you're kind of an asshole if you copped those and didn't shell out a few bucks for Hearts. And now that everyone's drooled all over Surfer Blood, maybe with an extended South Florida glow, Awesome New Republic can reclaim its spot on the national blogosphere and finally get that much-deserved break. -- Arielle Castillo
We've waxed rhapsodic enough on this blog about Stonefox, so we'll keep this short. This dark-horse record from deepest Boca pretty much blows the rest of the tri-county area's real rock and roll out of the water. For real -- even though most south of the Broward County line have yet to encounter this fearsome foursome (okay, so the fourth guy actually lives in Atlanta). The band's rollicking, bluesy riffs boil with punk energy and attitude, achieving a rare musical balance that appeals to both hipsters and bikers. -- Arielle Castillo
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