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This Little Underground

The best (and worst) of 2012

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Nation, it's that time again when we treat Orlando like the center of the motherfucking cosmos and dispense the annual Underground awards to the area's best (and worst) of 2012.

OW already recognized Orange You Glad Festival and Festival of Light & Sound in July's Best of Orlando issue, but I officially echo those picks here. As for the rest …

The Undies

Best new Orlando bands: It was a strong year for Florida with acts like Hundred Waters, Levek and Beach Day breaking nationally. But an inordinate amount of interesting new locals also stood out: Bog Prophet (one sick-ass sludge brute); Boy Division (thrillingly severe New Wave-steeped post-punk); the Dark Sixties (bad-tripping surf-rock for freaks); Day Joy (a bursting cloud of prismatic dream-folk); Girls on the Beach (the biggest garage-rock sonics in the city); Hau Zarest (a richly toned, highly musical hardcore outfit); Hussy (daring avant-punk noise); Jr. Meowzer (red-lining pop-punk revving with '90s fuzz); Portals (post-hardcore power, post-rock expansiveness); Shew'Bird (spare Americana with a deep country croon); Sowester (a spacey alloy of sludge, doom and stoner metal); Trails (mind-shattering, genre-splintering experimental rock duo); Wekiwa (a dark, atmosphere-thick guitar-and-electronics duo); xxyyxx (forward-thinking electronic beat-scaper already garnering national attention).

Best new Orlando releases: AMiAM – The Combine (golden-era hip-hop freshness by one of Orlando's most natural-born rappers); In Curses – Reaching Field (polished, genre-defying, vocal-centric album led by Solillaquist siren Alexandrah Sarton); Junior Bruce – The Headless King (a molten slab of murderous, skin-peeling Southern metal); the New Lows – I Couldn't Sleep (an energized album built on unassailable pop-punk fundamentals); Roadkill Ghost Choir – Quiet Light EP (a prime-time folk-rock work that's a dizzying tip of the iceberg for this band of seriously talented young men); Wet Nurse – Daily Whatever (perfectly pitched between scruff and punch, this is the year's best local garage-punk record); the Woolly Bushmen – self-titled (faithful but feverish, this is party-starting frat-rock straight outta the garage).

Biggest nightlife loss: Mark Wayne. Few have left a deeper, more distinctive mark on Orlando than this patriarch of legendary local lounge act Mark & Lorna.

Best sound experience: Steven Head's parking lot project. Appearing at the Tiny Waves anniversary and the Accidental Music Festival, this Flaming Lips-inspired multi-car experiment was a spatial sonic wonder.

Best new label/scene: Relief in Abstract Records. Besides just a banner, these kids created an entire micro-scene for themselves built on current, tasteful electronic music.

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