2019 gave us much in the way of music to celebrate in Northeast Florida; a glorious and eclectic mix of output, to be sure. Here’s a couple of tunes we really dug in ’19.
When a new band comes together, there’s typically a period of gestation required—months of practice; some stabs at recording; layering, stripping down, and re-layering; a few gigs, more practice, etc.—before the group is ready to produce anything redeeming.
But right out of the gate, with an idiosyncratic and polished debut single “Welcome Home” (released in late-December of ‘18), local indie-emo quintet Modern Violence came ready to make waves in Northeast Florida. “Tell me something good and I’ll throw it away,” singer/guitarist Jesse Brantman rasps over a sparse groove, foreshadowing the ambient guitar parts and impassioned harmonies to come on “Welcome Home,” a song which the band says is ‘a conversation between two close friends about a toxic relationship.’ It’s a first-rate track that puts the band’s dexterity, lyrical depth, and top-notch chops on display–a rare accomplishment for a debut, to be sure.
It should be no surprise, though, that the group already has such a strong sense of identity, as MV’s made-up of a stellar lineup of Jax music vets, including Brantman (Fort Stories), John Shannon (wise river, LANNDS) on keys, Jeremy Blanton (Strangerwolf) on bass, Mike VonBalson (Fort Stories, Shangrala) on drums, and newcomer Bobby Marino on guitar. As is evident in “Welcome Home,” which boasts distinctive dynamics, layers of sonic texture, and stirring lyrics, the group came together over a shared love of more melodic approaches to emo, as well as the beloved late-90s/early 2000s genre’s insistence on brutally-honest lyrics and poignant storytelling.
“A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action,” reads the Dictionary-cribbed definition of “self” local MC/singer, Che attaches to the visual for “Selfish” the first track from a forthcoming EP. The track (released in August of ‘19) finds Che, a member of formidable local hip-hop collective L.O.V.E. Culture shifting in tone and tenor from sultry, reflective R&B to more up-tempo fare before closing the song with an atmospheric final minute-plus.
Like their superhero brethren, The Justice League, each member of the L.O.V.E. Culture (“League of Vibrant Energies”) has his or her own powers. As we wait patiently for the other members of the collective to release solo projects in 2020, we’ll go ahead and count devastating vocals, formidable wordplay, and unique song structure among the gadgets in Che’s utility belt.
Other tracks we loved in ’19:
Trella – “Happy to Be Here”
LPT – “Aquella Mujer” (Live from Void HQ)
The Black Toilet – “What What”
Hurricane Party – “Hurricane Party!!!”
The Young Step – “Ghost Town”
Cory Driscoll – “Vacation Artist”
rickoLus – “Over U”
Folk is People – “Ghost Birdie”
Odd Relics – “Matrimony”
Mercy Mercy – The Usual (Baby)
The Noctambulant – “Unholy Benediction”
LANNDS – “2093”
Sea Cycles – “Quota”
This profile originally appeared as part of our feature “The Music We Needed: 19 Songs we loved in 2019” in Void Magazine, Vol. 10, Issue 6.