As Miami’s underground music scene continues to thrive, the tradition of genre-crossing continues. Crossover acts that blend Latin and other world sounds with rock have long been a staple of the city’s live music circuit, and even the downtown cool-kid acts tend towards the danceable. In other words, even in the “indie” scene, as such, “indie rock” is usually thin on the ground. That is, “indie rock” in its ’90s-perfected, college-radio-favored form of (mainly) dudes with guitars, specializing in heartfelt, distorted, jangly rock — no chasers.
One of the best new local acts is Plains, which is bucking the trend by favoring a slightly retro, classic indie flavor, which sounds fresh juxtaposed against its area peers. The main musical brain behind the band is frontman/guitarist/songwriter Mike McGinnis, whose day job is as an engineer at production music house/recording studio Honor Roll Music.
Live, he rounds out the lineup with a cast of local all-stars. It usually includes Jorge Graupera (of acts like bilingual punkers Guajiro) on guitar, Jared McKay (of the underwater art collective Coral Morphologic) on bass, and these days, Jorge Rubiera (of Animal Tropical and Can’t Stop) on drums. However, that lineup doesn’t come together too often. With everyone busy with other projects, Plains’ total shows since the band’s inception last year number only in the large handful.
Quality over quantity, then, has made the band one of the favorites of local tastemakers, a position that’ll only be enhanced by the release of Plains’ debut self-titled album on the local label 10K Islands, itself an Honor Roll offshoot. McGinnis played all of the record’s 13 songs himself live for the recording, and the production is polished while still remaining a little lovably ragged around the edges. Musically, the songs take a page from old indie greats like Built to Spill, Sebadoh, and the like. That means introspective lyrics, loud-soft dynamics, and most importantly, pop hooks. Above all, these Plains songs are catchy, whether they’re bidding adieu to bad times on “Black Feeling” or entreating the titular woman’s return on “Judy.”
The new record doesn’t seem to indicate any live shows beyond the usual, but the band is playing a few CD release shows starting with one on Friday, July 22 at the Vagabond in Miami, followed by a couple dates in New York and the midwest. Otherwise, you can stream the entire album via Soundcloud, below, or get it through 10K Islands.