When scouring the web for the new LP from Florida Man, be sure to include "Tropical Depression," the aforementioned album’s title. Otherwise, you’ll be unceremoniously dumped into a wormhole of degradation and inhumanity (hilarity?) befitting the Sunshine State’s storied, uhhhh, human interest stories. Released mere days ago on Seattle’s Spartan Records, home to America Opera, The Darling Fire, and others; it’s quickly become my go to noise rock record of the year.
Alas, the bruising noiseniks in Florida Man mercifully hail from a few ticks north in Charleston, South Carolina. Their sophomore effort is the perfect sonic match for the destructively callous nature of the titular cyclones. Peering deeper into their murky waters finds the title reflecting its double entendre; casting visions of Floridian trailer park malaise with its unique blend of boredom and dystopian despair in the shadow of the Everglades.
Since their opening ante in 2017, upped their game substantially, peppering the new LP with more in the way of shifting dynamics and even sneakier melodies. The nihilistic flare of their S/T album finds itself punching in a new weight class. Much like the inherent antagonism of contemporaries Ken Mode, Future of the Left, and even Pissed Jeans; Florida Man plays puppet master with expectations, song structure, and the grey area of incomplete thoughts. There’s a rubbery tension that runs through the veins of the record, at some turns sometimes threatening to pop and, at others, it’s pulled impossibly taut. I recommend the LP in full but, for our purposes, I’m digging into the dirt of track two.
Following the opener, “Dirt” starts with a swaying and woozy vibe, each crashing drum and note feeding back into a sonic highway pileup. The 10 or so seconds ultimately burst full steam like a propulsion engine, albeit cobbled together from an abandoned junkyard. It quickly devolves into a sidewinder of a riff that knowingly tips it’s brim to My War-era Flag or BL'AST!, all angles and discomfort. Whether they’re throwing in what sounds like a phaser gun sound, staccato riffage, pounding snares, or leathery bass riff, it’s all done in service to the song itself. In the back half there’s a glorious mess of discordant guitars that manage less of a solo then a tightly wound ball of mangled notes.
The mania of the sound is managed through an ever-evolving sense of expectation. Much like a seasoned pitcher, they’ll throw the curveball or change up as they please and do it on any count. Vocally, “Dirt” is maniacal and ferociously barked. Elsewhere, the band stretches out a bit but here the posture is far more intimidating and rabid.
There’s a sense of adventure that recalls the “reptilians on speed” wave of early '90s noise a la Cherubs, Dazzling Killmen, and the Japanese titans Zeni Geva. They've also clearly absorbed Yank Crime, Brainiac’s “everything goes” sensibility and the meatier end of the Unwound discography. There’s even room for the more expansive and adventurous end of the Dischord roster to get a foothold. It recalls a time when the back and forth, swaying pulse of Black Eyes or Q and not U mimicked the ominous blinking red eye of the Washington monument.
All touchstones aside, the band is clearly well versed in the abrasive end of punk’s varied spectrum and they’re making it their own. Pick it up and find out why Googling "Florida Man" (the band) has finally birthed a positive headline. Extra shout to Spartan Records and the band for what is perhaps the most inventive vinyl of the year.
Florida Man's album, Tropical Depression, is out now via Spartan Records.
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