The Good, The Bad, The Local

Our Quarterly Local-Music Review Spread Goes Bi-Monthly


Hillsborough County's Jafar Curry is currently working this six-song disc hard via rigorous regional touring and the backing of promotions company NuTainment. The style is a somewhat light, acoustic guitar-laced take on contemporary urban/R&B. It's a tough genre to pull off without a massive production budget, but Curry makes the most of roomy, Spartan beats and coolly minimal arrangements. Musically speaking, the overall result is fairly original and engaging; it's Curry's expressively liquid, high-register vocals that elevate this stuff well above the mundane — I bet one of his solo guitar-and-voice shows would be every bit as satisfying as these full-spectrum versions. Nicely done. (

Primate 46
The Year of The Monkey, Vol. 1

Primate 46 hails from Bradenton. This four-song EP is a follow-up to last year's Anatomy of a Life, and is currently only available at shows and through the band's website. The four-piece delivers fairly standard heavy rock — while the liberal use of acoustic guitar and background harmonies throughout the otherwise drums-and-distortion format is intriguing, it doesn't really do enough to set the group apart from the modern-rock horde. Brian Amoroso's spot-on vocals are a highlight; his ability would be better served by some more original material. The band's not bad, it just comes off as a bit green and derivative in the songwriting department. It'll be interesting to see if their next batch of tunes finds them moving toward a more distinct identity. ( 1/2

Drone Dimension
Faintly Acquainted

What is it with all the shoegaze/old-school Brit-psych-informed bands popping up in the Bay area over the last year or so? Thank or blame Beautiful Loser, I guess, as is your wont. In any case, it's a welcome change, getting various discs that sound like more than a local band's set laid to tape. Guy-gal project Drone Dimension is marvelously cinematic — lush, dreamy and awash in reverbed-out semi-hollow-body guitars and layered echo-chamber vocals. There are plenty of obvious reference points that run the gamut from Galaxie 500 to Starflyer 59, but the group puts its own stamp on things, coming off as more celebratory, mid-tempo epiphany than downer. Highlights include tracks one through nine. This is going into regular headphone rotation alongside likeminded locals The Human Echo. (www.drone

Slice of Life

Folk singers come in all shapes and sizes. There's the brooding, state-o'-the-world kind, the lovelorn troubadour kind, the working-class hero kind, and easily a few other incarnations. Ray(zor) DeArcangelis, a Bradenton-based singer/songwriter, falls somewhere between the incorrigible sentimental and unapologetic smart-ass kinds. Slice of Live is a collection of performances at the Fogartyville Café between October 2003 and May 2004, and is by turns ornery, hilarious and self-effacing. The results are engaging — Rayzor's guitar, banjo and harmonica are his only accompaniment, save for the infrequent clicking of beer bottles and coffee cups. The audience is silent and the singer is confident, sharing stories between songs and quietly airing his opinions. The audience's stillness only complements Slice of Live's raw, contemplative and ultimately engaging feel. 1/2


Pit Fire!

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Skyway Records is out there pimping local rap — that can only be a good thing. But this disc isn't. Rizsock's 11-track full-length offers absolutely nothing that hasn't been done to death in mainstream Dirty South fare over the past five years or so. It's got the same thin, stutter-stepping Timbaland-copping beats. The same scattershot (Ludacris) and occasionally singsong (Nelly) flows. The same simple, overly repetitive chants ("Who dat nigga, whut?"). When the disc does occasionally digress from by-the-numbers bounce, it's always for a clichéd downtempo lament ("Poetry," "Live Again"). While the MCs' performances and production are adequate, Pit Fire's tone and style are both derivative, and several steps behind the leading edge. (SkyWay Records, 1700 34th Street S., St. Petersburg, 33711) 1/2

Ryan Cosmonaught
Ryan Cosmonaught

It's another project from the Tampa gang that brought you the likes of Diet of Worms, Dead Dark Slide and the killer SpaceKing. This time around, it's singer/guitarist/songwriter Ryan Cosmonaught's eponymous outing, which focuses on New Wave-inspired pop built equally on dancey beats, synths and all manner of guitars. Here, his lyrics and vocal performances are hit-and-miss (hey, every album with a song called "RockStar" is automatically suspect), and some mixes are questionable, but there are several eclectic tracks here where everything clicks. Check out the Pixies-esque "Ninth Moon"; the classic, power-popping "Movie"; the yearning guilty-pleasure ballad "I Can't Believe"; and the sunny-yet-melancholy "She's A Girl." ( 1/2

Jay Webber
Slice of Life

Jay Webber is a Midwest transplant who, from what I remember, came to Sarasota, played some shows, and left for the summer to gig his way across Michigan. I Can See, his second album, trudges the same path that Dave Matthews walked 10 years ago, but without the virtuosic drum patterns or layered horns. Webber's a fine singer, though he suffers from what's popularly known as pickle-in-mouth (aka the Creed/Days of the New/Staind lead singers) syndrome. Fortunately, the production — and the songs themselves — save the record, which would sound more appropriate on WMNF's playlist than in the dive bars Webber usually plays. Some qualities are consistent throughout the album's 14 tracks, namely his self-harmonizing, ad-libbed vocals that occasionally teeter on scat, jangly acoustic guitars and lots, lots of congas. For something so breezy and light, it's hard to believe this record was recorded in the cold climes of Michigan. (Old Moon Music, www.jaywebber .com)


Live's Page
Long Road Home

These guys are obviously good musicians, and most of the time, this tuneage centers on an emotional, rhythmic sort of modern rock most readily associated with the after-the-grunge boom of the mid- to late-90s. Occasionally, though, the members — particularly the guitarist and vocalist — go overboard trying to inject the material with more of their abilities and influences than will actually fit. Stylistic shifts, overwrought posturing and, sadly, dated, grooveless alt-funk muddy the waters and distract from the songs, which would be fine without the extra guitar pedal or indecipherable howl of existential angst. OK, we get it. They're into it, they mean it. There's a lot of potential here, when the players let the song, rather than their individual performances, paint the picture. (

Contact Tampa music critic Scott Harrell at scott.harrell@weeklyplanet .com, and Sarasota music critic Mark Sanders at mark.sanders@