RYAN HAMILTON REVIEWS FLORIDA
If you've lived in Brooklyn for the last decade or longer, there's a good chance you've run into Dan Rineer either in various restaurant kitchens, installing in various art galleries or moonlighting w/ avant rock locals such as PC Worship and Gary War. There's also a pretty good chance you've seen him play with his very own band called Florida, who've just released a brand new self-recorded full length on Decades records called Neon Star System. It's a bit of a strange one, but let me try and set the mood for you. Remember when Beck was someone who appeared in Jon Spencer Blues Explosion videos assaulting subway passengers with 99 cent store toys while spitting his strange verse, rather than the one now who croons nauseatingly Grammy-friendly tunes to his Scientologist buddies? Good, then that means you have an understanding of this album's entry point.
Once you enter, you'll find a brand of punk-tinged psychedelia combined with humor, poetic suitability and general weirdness that is pretty specific to this particular band. Upon my first listen I couldn't stop picking out the influences I was hearing. A little Gong here, a little Funkadelic here, some Ariel Pink over there...but once the list got too long, I stopped to appreciate the album for being its own unique piece of work.
When I asked Dan about any lyrical themes that might've been important to him on the album, here's what he told me:
"Ultimately this album points out and then forgives the ghoulish nature of human beings through dark funk. This one flowed very freely for me and because of that I think it exhibits a large chunk of my own ghoulish character. A lot of songs have a lot to do with New York City and it's various gnarly inhabitants preying on each other. Some of them are meant to be like story book style and a few are just weed fueled, one-take instrumentals. The final track "Bath Salts" is me playing 3 electric pianos to the tune of every major Doors hit for no goddamn reason."
Most of what you're hearing is Rineer himself and his regular band (Philip Panos, Rob Racine and Christopher Haag) dabbling on all instrumentation, however this album benefited from quite a bit of help of from Florida's friends. The opening track lets you right into their skewed circle as PC Worship's Justin Frye rips a guitar solo dueling Sunwatchers' Jeff Tobias' sax on "Delirium Tremens." Tobias comes back to shred another day on "Release the Hounds" a slow trudge w/ a shiny pop chorus. Jon Guez, who normally plays guitar in Florida sings on the verse of "Sun Drenched Lug" as well as plays bass and keys. While Bernard Gann from Liturgy/Guardian Alien plays guitar. And "Pete's Boogie" is Pete Negreponte from Guerilla Toss playing bass and guitar on a frenzied two minute experimentation over electronic hi-hats.
While those tracks get mentions because of their varied guests, these are the tracks worth mentioning because of their musical effect on the listener:
"Stream On" is the perfectly smooth night funk that could be the best song on the Stones "Tattoo You" that somehow never ended up in your iTunes.
"Clean Plate" picks up where "Stream On" left off, but the soft chant deadens the good times while still maintaining the unrelenting groove. The effected lyrics "Suck my fucking dick. Smoke on this, motherfucker" at the end could be in direct homage to Guns n' Roses' classic "Get in the Ring", but only Rineer knows for sure.
The unabashed opus would have to be "The Realness" with its early Bowie-esque verses, into the synthed out "Life" effected chorus, into folk punk, into reverse guitar bliss out. Repeat. Strange but beautiful.
The band has become something way less stripped down than its 2008 SHDWPLY Records debut, the dark folk lo-fi cult classic Dead Beat Sons. These days there's plenty of guitar, synth and vocal effects to go with overdubs of drum programming and various instruments blazing out over the course of these drug-addled tongue twisters. Maybe the most impressive feat here is that Rineer has now gone through most all of the various emasculating battles of playing music in the uber-saturated music scene of Brooklyn, and still keeps evolving and bringing interesting new sounds to the band.
Visit Florida's bandcamp page here: https://floridajams.bandcamp.com/album/star-system-neon
Ryan Hamilton is a musician living in Brooklyn. He was previously a member of the bands Columboid, Vaz, and Coyote. These days, he’s one-third of the gritty, experimental trio, Myriaid. And he is newly appointed AQ’s Quarterly Music Contributor.