Miami has one of the hottest music scenes in the U.S. these days, with scores of talented indie bands making some great alternative rock music. I’ve previously written about two other Miami-based bands: SunGhosts and Above the Skyline, and now turn my attention to a band that all but demands it – Dyslexic Postcards. With a great name like that, how can they possibly be ignored? In their bio, they hilariously claim as their influences the likes of ‘Mohammad Ali, Buster Keaton, the guy who invented the blender, and Joan Crawford’ – for which you’ve just got to love these guys! They recently dropped their debut EP Spare the Altar, and it’s over the top in a very good way. Brilliant, quite actually.
Dyslexic Postcards is a four-man band led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Joshua Xmas, who’s known in the Miami music scene for his outrageous, colorful stage performances and impressive vocal range. Completing the band line-up are Eddie Gatoe (bass, backing vocals), Joesmooth (drums) and Johann Murrillo (keyboards, backing vocals). They play an incredibly dynamic and eclectic style of alternative rock that’s hard to classify, due to complex song structures that move across the genres of punk, classic rock, dance, funk and blues, sometimes in the same song. Their music sounds brutal at times, but a decidedly humorous approach keeps it from being too heavy or dark.
The opening track and first single off the EP is the rousing “The Shakes That You Make.” Starting off with an ever-so-brief bit of distorted guitar and a drum beat similar to that of the Ronettes’ classic “Be My Baby,” the track abruptly gains intensity, alternating between periods of relative calm and bombastic layers of distorted guitars and crashing cymbals, set to a punkish dance beat. Joshua’s vocals rise and fall with the music, going from smooth one moment to screeching falsetto the next, and back again. It all makes for an exhilarating romp from start to finish, guaranteed to keep you moving.
The song’s lyrics address conflicted feelings from a dysfunctional love-hate relationship – whether to stay together or bail. “And all the shakes that you made / And mistakes that were graded equal / From all the mamas to the papas and the drama that’s made you feeble / Although we try, try again / We’re gonna stick through thick and thin / Take a good look around, what happens now? / Oh my dear, you’re far too near / Oh how I wish you weren’t standing here / Be on your way / Cause you cannot stay that’s quite OK.” The song’s video is one of the most hysterically entertaining I’ve seen in a long while, and it’s obvious they had a blast making it.
The energy level is ramped up even higher on the second track as the band unleashes an all-out sonic attack with “Now They Know.” They shred their guitars to the breaking point at lightning speed, while Joesmooth literally beats the hell out of his drums. Joshua has no trouble matching the blistering riffs with his fierce vocals, and by song’s end, you’re left feeling like you’ve been hit by an atomic blast of music energy. This firecracker needs to be played loud, so crank up the volume!
“So So Lover” starts off slow and bluesy, then those signature shredded guitars reappear, blasting through the speakers. Like other Dyslexic Postcards songs, the guitars snarl, gnash and distort all over the place in a psychedelic haze. I love the lyric “Mr Wonderful’s left the building / Got a case of mild dementia.” The anthemic rock ballad “Put Up Your Make-Up” is almost a symphony in itself, serving up a six-minute-plus auditory feast of gorgeous piano chords, soaring violins, and epic guitar riffs – all set to a retro 80’s rock vibe. This is a standout track and one of my favorites on the EP.
The band pulls out all the stops with the boisterous “Give Me Reason to Die.” The frantic guitar riffs on this track are downright merciless, and the drums blow up the speakers, providing further evidence that these guys know how to KICK ASS! And damn if I don’t love this song too.
Given their EP title of Spare the Altar, Dyslexic Postcards seem to be thumbing their noses at the conventions of marriage and normalcy. With the whiskey-soaked closing track “Emerald Shot Eyes,” however, they may be concluding that perhaps love and romance aren’t hopeless after all. The swirling guitar riffs are awesome, and Joshua’s raw vocals passionately convey his painful longing: “Cause I need you now, everyday.”