Three New Singles from Florida’s Dying
by Kevin J. Elliott

Florida’s Dying has survived the flood. In the wake of underground music’s re-awakening these last five years, the distribution arm of Richie Evans’ Orlando-based empire has been inundated with enough copies of copies from that boon that it looks as if this ilk of underground music is eating its own tail. These days, I’d doubt even Evans can distinguish what’s genuine from what’s genuine shit. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Florida’s Dying the label, and for good reason. Evans isn’t one to jump every train and release multiple, sub-par singles into the already saturated wasteland. Judging from Florida’s Dying latest three releases, he’s very particular with each and every record. You could even say that Florida’s Dying has developed an aesthetic character in being so selective in what they have to offer.

Real Numbers, “Tear It in Two”
At first, the Real Numbers seemed a bad entry point to get reacquainted with Florida’s Dying. The cover reeked of a throwaway single from the ’90s, emblazoned with a chintzy design of a nondescript car and twee typography that cooed something akin to Velocity Girl. The Real Numbers are not Velocity Girl, though regrettably, when “Tear It in Two” begins, I’m reminded of the Thermals. The band fortunately boasts a frontman in Eli Hanson who would likely cite Paul Weller (Jam era) above all else in his record collection. From “Tear It in Two” to the end of the bouncier “Pinckney St.” the Minneapolis trio is tethered to making (distant) pop songs, in a mold that confines them to be terse and bright, sounding like the Desperate Bicycles or even Swell Maps were both those bands slightly more mod. Bugger artwork aside, this is actually the most promising single I’ve heard all year.

Vein Cranes, “True Believer”
What is most endearing about Florida’s Dying is their adoration for the freaks who stalk the swamps and shacks of the label’s home and namesake (for reference, go buy the Electric Bunnies now classic first LP from the label). Vein Cranes are a quintet that rattles around in a subterranean fidelity so crusty you can practically smell the basement knee-high with snack trash, murky water, and extinguished cigarettes. Their greatest asset is the three voices that sneakily intertwine during the bleak “True Believer.” This is a band that has become mutilated in the Gun Club, metered with a little “Horror Business,” and led Spector’s girl groups to the (actual) joy division. But after “True Believer” and onto “Pink Motherfucker,” the mood shifts to pure goof, almost taken to Banana Splits proportions. In this cable-channel scramble sonic frame, it’s perfectly disorienting. The B-side, though showing Vein Crane’s creepy vamp, is forgettable, as it’s an electro-acoustic vamp on the Misfits’ “Attitude,” more or less. Campy, yeah, but wholly enjoyable.

Personal & the Pizzas, “Dead Meat”
I’ve separated myself from Personal and the Pizzas for very personal reasons—and now I’m ashamed. Like wearing shorts on stage, putting food in the name of your band is a big foul in my indie cred book. Plus, Columbus is already home to the pre-eminent “pizza-party” core: Pizza Slayer, look ’em up. This match-up of “Dead Meat” vs. “Joanie” is the first in a series of Total Punk singles, an off-shoot of Florida’s Dying that will all follow a similarly minimal aesthetic. I’m forgiving Personal and the Pizzas for their misstep, because I know deep down, especially after hearing these two tunes, that the tongue is pierced through their collective cheek. At their best, and on “Dead Meat,” the band is a hand-clapping mash of Pavement and Sha Na Na, and I mean that in the nicest of ways. There are jamming twin-guitars in the fringes that suggest the Pizzas know their history. Much of this could melt into Royal Trux’s brilliant head-scratching sludge gold, but they tend to prefer the pub band veneer. It’s “Joanie,” though, that I conclude the Pizzas are all about. The song is basically “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” slowed to a barbiturate haze. Rip-offs need hooks and imagination and the Pizzas have both. Even if the Ramones are the easiest of the punks to crib, they manage to show a line of pop that stretches from the Byrds to Joey and onto Guided by Voices. I want some more.