2018 was a banner year for music in the 904. From Downtown to the Beaches to St. Augustine, in traditional and non-traditional venues, from bedrooms and garages, music came pouring out–and much of it, as you’ll see/hear below, was quite good! Meanwhile, we at Void tried mightily to capture some of that sonic lightning in a bottle. We put out a record. We invited artists into the office and recorded them. But, first and foremost, we dove deep and tried to provide context to the songs being produced, tying them to the movements, the scenes, the environments, and the time period from which they were unleashed. Here’s an assortment of local releases we really loved from the past year.

The Black Toilet – What What

Directed by Walker Flocker, the 90-second sleepwalker’s nug of “WhatWhat” serves up a mellow, clacking beat with slippery rhymes. The Black Toilet is another milestone in primo and tripped-out Duval hip hop.

The Young Step – Ghost Town

“There’s joy in the rain after a month of heat. There’s another hurricane though it’s not on the beach,” croons The Young Step’s Ben Whitson (guitar, vox) over tasteful, subtly funky guitar licks and ambient synths on the group’s new track “Ghost Town”, released in December. It’s a super catchy, ’80s-evoking pop tune from a group from whom we here at Void had been anxiously waiting on new material.

Mr. Al Pete – Check Respect

If there’s a recurring theme and narrative in Mr. Al Pete’s Neighborhood, it’s a strong sense of identity: past, present; even future. Of an album with many strong tracks, “Check Respect” is an undoubted standout. Opening with a spoken word intro where Al explains that, compared to hustling on the streets, the hardest gig in life is, “being faithful and working legit. Try that s***.” Carried along by a strong piano and electric bass riff, thick drums popping underneath, Al describes the experience of dealing with personal feelings in a very public environment: his day-to-day job. The lyrics and Al’s lilting cadence, lyrical style tell the story of wanting respect, but knowing when to bite your lip and not tell the world to, “f*** off.”

9E – Get Out

This new band comprised of Jax music vets released the video below for “Get Out” from their debut EP. The song captures a synergy between singer Tony Prat’s ambient growl, guitarist Jason Hoey’s technical-yet-unhinged, reverb-drenched licks, and 9E’s tight rhythm section, all manifest in the form of a mercurial montage of abstract black and white imagery.

Yuno – No Going Back

Sub Pop made a big splash when the Seattle label scooped up Yuno, whose glittery, effortlessly chill pop single “No Going Back,” earned heavy rotation on indie-inclined Spotify playlists last summer. It was surprising, however, to learn that royalty checks written to this new addition to Sub Pop’s stellar roster are sent to a postal address in Jacksonville, Florida (he may in fact have direct deposit, but you get the point–he’s from here).

LPT  – Aquella Mujer

Riverside’s mighty Afro-Cuban-Salsa band LPT released this entire March 29th set recorded at Gainesville’s Heartwood Soundstage, on streaming platforms in late 2018. Combining the traditional with current flavors on “Aquella Mujer”  LPT show why they might surely be “the new ambassadors of Salsa music in the Southeast.”

Lannds – You + Drugs

Oh, how we love Rania Woodard, AKA Lannds! In the spring of ’18 Lannds graced our office with perhaps the most stirring Into the Void: Office Music Series performance yet. Then a few months later she dropped this gorgeous track. 

Darkhorse Saloon – Robert

This track from Void faves, Darkhorse Saloon, was one of three DS songs of thumping, atmospheric riff-rock soundtracking pro surfer Parker Coffin’s newest edit.“Robert” twists around intricate, multi-dimensional guitar parts (provided by lead guitarists Jason Hoey and Matt Phillips), and features pulsing baselines and ferocious drums by Darkhorses’ capable rhythm section (Mitch Mitch Mullaney on bass and Carl Nishiyama on drums). Combined with lead singer Michael Fitzgerald’s ambient, primeval yowls, Darkhorses’ new tunes are tastefully belligerent.

Mercy Mercy – The Usual Baby

Locally, the spirit of the ‘60s is alive and well, with garage-y bands like Faze Wave, Gov Club, 9E, Darkhorse Saloon, etc. playing for substantial crowds and making some of the area’s most relevant noise. You can add revelrous rock n’ roll trio Mercy Mercy to that list. Comprised of Jax natives Dennie Carter (drums/vox) and Jon Dailey (guitar/vox) and transplant Nishant Ghose (guitar/vox), Mercy Mercy’s primitive, fuzzed-out sound and intentionally superficial lyrics—best exemplified on tracks like “The Usual (Baby)”—would fit in perfectly on among the authentically ‘60s tracks of noted garage rock compilations, like Back from the Grave.

Modern Violence – Welcome Home

Modern Violence, another group made up of Jax music vets, 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. This debut track from the band boasts distinctive dynamics, layers of sonic texture, and stirring lyrics.