Music defines a region just as much as one-of-a-kind restaurants and historic landmarks. CL’s Warehouse Arts District block party in St. Pete a few months back gave me my first dose of local music outside the hardcore/punk realms. Additional forays have revealed that Bay area musicians are capable of holding their own against nationally touring acts. Below, I’ve put together a list of 10 acts you should know, as chosen by myself and the rest of the CL interns. Enjoy!
New Bruises This punk rock four-piece is a near-legendary staple of Tampa’s DIY punk scene. Reflective, sociopolitical lyrics are shouted over distorted guitars riffs and pounding rhythms, inspiring surprisingly energetic sing-alongs in a live setting. New Bruises put out their latest full-length Chock Full of Misery last summer on No Idea/Kiss of Death Records, the label spawned by frontman and guitarist Bryon Lippincott, and have appeared on Gainesville’s Fest lineup enough that their presence has become something of a ritual. newbruisesband.com.
For fans of: Latterman, The Replacements, Get Bent, Jawbreaker, Fugazi.
set and setting Wistful instrumentals and washes of warm atmospherics fuel the sounds that cascade from this ambient yet heavy post-rock outfit. After throwing an album release party at Octave in downtown St. Pete for their debut album Equanimity, set and setting gave Tampa Bay friends and followers two more opportunities to catch them play before they embarked on a nearly six-week summer tour of the U.S. and Canada that started July 1. facebook.com/setandsetting.
For fans of: Deafheaven, Pelican, Do Make Say Think.
The Laurel Canyon Bay area music vets Max Norton and Shawn Kyle comprise this indie blues-rock combo. Their name pays homage to an L.A. neighborhood that was a hub of creativity for notable musicians, singers and songwriters of the 1960s and ’70s. Kyle fronts on guitar and vocals, Norton pounds skins, and recent sets have found The Laurel Canyon performing material off a soon-to-be-released debut EP that ranges from garage-stained indie blues to grittier, Southern-fried rock. facebook.com/thelaurelcanyon.
For fans of: The Black Keys, White Stripes, Them Crooked Vultures.
Goodnight Neverland Despite some name and genre changes, this alt-rock trio has been around for more than 10 years. Goodnight Neverland combines thoughtful lyrics with melodic guitar and easy rhythms, the ethereal ambience creating a sense of intimacy in their sometimes barefooted performances. The band recently announced they’d recorded two new songs — the first new studio material since 2011 EP Oceans in the Clouds — and will be saying good-bye to drummer Jeremy Tellone in September. facebook.com/Goodnight-Neverland.
For fans of: Copeland, From Indian Lakes, Two Door Cinema Club.
Hovering Humanoids A Tampa-bred instrumental math-prog three-piece that plays fast and futuristic melodies, with busy drums and sonic loopage scattered throughout their songs. A traditional end to the band’s Facebook posts is, “Feel the ’Noids.” facebook.com/Hovering-Humanoids.
For fans of: Don Caballero, Loose Lips Sink Ships, King Crimson, Battles.
The Happiness Machine A fivesome featuring former members of The Sun Society and fronted by Kathleen McGuire, who sways gracefully to and fro as she performs. The music on their five-song Dumb Blonde EP (issued on St. Pete’s Viva La Records in April) can be surfy and upbeat or gentle and dreamy folk pop marked by a medley of guitar lines and organ notes, and complemented by the distinctive vocals of McGuire and sister/bassist Shaundra. facebook.com/TheHappinessMachineFL.
For fans of: Tennis, Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls.
Halibut This St. Pete indie rock quartet may satisfy the ears of local Jeff Mangum diehards. With punchy acoustic guitar riffs atop bursts of drumbeats, their sound is catchy and inviting. Halibut formed four years ago, and their first full-length Need to be Free was released in 2012. Past songwriting has seen the musicians incorporating quirky instruments like ukuleles, but more recent tunes find them swapped for electric guitars. facebook.com/Halibutandfriends.
For fans of: Neutral Milk Hotel, The Decemberists, mewithoutYou.
Future Vintage Tampa’s jazz funk outfit bridges new and old sounds — loops, drum programming and samples with keys, bass and drums — and calls on nasty retro and electro funk influences as well as hip-hop and neo-soul styles prevalent during the ’80s and ’90s. The musicians dabbled in similar music projects around the country before landing here, where they issued a self-titled EP and celebrated its release with a performance at Dunedin Brewery in June. The roughly 44-minute EP is streaming for free on the band’s SoundCloud page. facebook.com/FutureVintageBand.
For fans of: Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Medeski Martin & Wood, Prince.
Dynasty The self-style “femcee” moved to Tampa from her hometown of Queens, NYC, and the hip-hop rhyme-flinger is typically accompanied by her right-hand producer, DJ Sandman, who mixes soul and R&B into her sound. Dynasty’s lyrical style is fearless, aggressive and inspired, as is her flow. Dreampusher, title of both her 2010 mixtape and her recent tour through Germany, fits her ethos about life and career moves. The release date of A Star in Life’s Clothing was postponed, but only because her fresh-pressed LP was picked up by German-based label Jakarta Records. yagirldy.com.
For fans of: MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Da Brat.
Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso Started in 2004, this many-member mainstay of the local ska scene adds elements of calypso, punk and reggae to their sound. Congas, steel drums and other island percussion play alongside trumpet and sax, and the unique narratives on new album The Curse of the Unsinkable Ship induce crude yet groovy fun. facebook.com/guttercalypso.
For fans of: The Aquabats, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Streetlight Manifesto.