Southwest Florida musicians haven’t been idle during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has shut down bars and venues, on and off, since March. But many bands and solo acts have used that time to write, record or release new music.
Here’s a roundup of new albums and EPs from Southwest Florida artists, including rising pop star Dominic Fike, Nashville harmonica great Charlie McCoy, hard rockers The Electric Mud, singer-songwriter Kyle Anne, family metal bands Dizygote and Mommy’s Lil Monsterz, synth rockers Cobress, country singer Cody Weaver and many more.
Genre: Rock, pop and alternative hip-hop
Hometown: The Naples native now lives in Los Angeles.
The album: “What Could Possibly Go Wrong.” Fike’s debut album was released in July on Columbia Records.
More about “What Could Possibly Go Wrong”: Fike spent about three years working on the 14-song album. It’s packed with strange studio sounds, his signature laid-back delivery, and lyrics about fame, stardom, Los Angeles, sex, relationships and even his hometown of Naples.
The title is a cheeky reference to the pressure of recording a new album and people’s expectations. “This is my first whack at it,” Fike told The News-Press and the Naples Daily News in July. “All the things that people say and the hype that’s built around me and all this stuff makes for a pretty interesting debut album release, I think.”
Key tracks: Singles “Chicken Tenders,” “Politics & Violence” and “Cancel Me.”
Read our interview:Rising pop star Fike talks new album, pressure, fame, what’s next
Genre: Country and Cajun music
Hometowns: Nashville and Fort Myers
The album: The 16-track album “Les Bon Temps” celebrates the music of New Orleans. It’s the Nashville harmonica legend’s 43rd album.
More about “Les Bon Temps”: “Cajun music is one of America’s original music forms,” the part-time Fort Myers resident says. “Jimmy C. Newman of Grand Ole Opry fame was the first Cajun I ever met. I have dedicated this album to him.”
McCoy says he loves Cajun music and wanted to celebrate it. “I love the spirit, the way the instruments play, and there is a little French influence,” he says. “I have been to France many times, and I can speak French with a 6-year-old!”
Learn more about Charlie McCoy: charliemccoy.com
Genre: Indie folk
Hometown: Fort Myers
The EP: The six-song “Nostalgia” was recorded at home and mixed by collaborator Caleb Neff of Juniper Recording. “He added some ‘frosting,’ as he calls it, which is usually textured guitar parts, light percussion, a bass line, or whatever the song may need,” Kyle Anne says. The EP came out in June.
The album’s theme: “I found myself thinking a lot about moments from my youth that seemed mundane at the time, but were significant in retrospect,” Kyle Anne says. “Certain things just hit differently when you’re young.
“For example, going to a party where you don’t know anyone feels completely different as a young person versus as a grown adult, and there’s a song about it on the record (“Anxiety at the Party”). I wanted to capture that essence and write these songs in a way I would’ve when I was younger, from that perspective.”
Mommy’s Lil Monsterz
Genre: A mix of extreme-metal genres, including deathgrind, death metal and grindcore
Hometown: Cape Coral
The album: The eight-song covers album, “Grinding Up the Hits,” came out in August.
More about “Grinding Up the Hits”: “We took some songs — some we like and some we don’t — and made them metal,” says singer Trent Harris.
The album sprang from the family band’s 2019 appearance on the Nickelodeon reality show “America’s Most Musical Family,” where they performed under the name The Harris 3.
“We had to get a bunch of songs ready,” father Jason Harris says. “We played ‘Smash Mouth’ on the show, and these are the songs we had left over.”
“We had a lot of fun putting our own twist on these classic songs, and I’m really proud of the production. The kids blew my mind with their performances! I couldn’t be more proud of them!”
Key track: “I think ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears is the best song,” says drummer Ashton Harris. “It came out phenomenally. It’s heavy, brutal but still sounds like the original.”
Band members: The trio features dad Jason Harris (guitar) and sons Trent, 12 (vocals) and Ashton, 15 (drums and backing vocals).
Genre/sound: Duke Stamina calls his music “aggressively gay rap littered with satire, blasphemy and obscenities.”
Hometown: Cape Coral
The album: The eight-track “Super Horse-Dads 2 TURBO: Tournament Edition [ost]” was released Sept. 18.
Key track: “That’s Gay.” “I think it essentially wraps up the point I was attempting to get across with the album,” he says. That point is this: “I’m Gay,” he says, “and there’s nothing you can do to stop me from trying to sexualize mermaids.”
Learn more about Duke Stamina: facebook.com/DukeStamina,
Genre: Traditional country with hard-rock elements
Hometown: Fort Myers
The EP: The five-song “Southern Noise” is expected to come out in late October.
Key track: Title track “Southern Noise.” “It is a nod to everything I love about country and Southern rock,” Weaver says. “You will hear all my influences in it, from blues to rock to funk to old-school country. It’s a high-energy boot stomper!”
The EP’s themes: “The idea of ‘Southern Noise’ is everything from the South,” Weaver says. “Florida heat, orange groves, beat up old Ford pickups, screamin’ guitars and some honest lyrics. What does the South sound like to me? This EP.”
Hometown: Cape Coral
The album: The eight-song “The Other Side” was released in April.
More about “The Other Side”: The album is a solo release from the Relentless Fire bandleader. It features her usual rock ‘n’ roll, but also blues, ballads and more spiritual music.
Hose’s son, Nathan, produced the album at his Attic Studios in Pennsylvania. The two handled most of the instruments, but they also brought in studio players, Relentless Fire guitarist Steve McWilliams and — on drums — her grandson, Nathaniel.
Key track: Title song “The Other Side.” “I wrote the song about my Dad passing in 2017,” Hose says. “It was just magical the way the song came together in so many ways.
“My son came up with the main guitar riff and arrangement, since I showed up with a rough sketch, basically. It was released as a single Nov. 30, 2019, on my mom’s birthday as a way to honor my father.”
The Electric Mud
Genre: Heavy rock
Hometown: Fort Myers
The album: The nine-song album “Burn the Ships” comes out Sept. 25 on Small Stone Records.
More about “Burn the Ships”: The band had planned to release the album in summer 2019, says singer/guitarist Peter Kolter. Then Michigan label Small Stone Records discovered them and wanted to release the album.
“The only hitch was that Small Stone wanted to press vinyl of the album, and there was some sort of time requirement that our album hadn’t met,” Kolter says. “We ended up going back to the studio and switching a couple things up, and we added two songs which I think ended up being some of our best work to date.
“We’re all really proud of this album. … It represents a pretty serious push forward for us. You’ll be able to hear the progress our sound is making.
Key tracks: The laid-back “Terrestrial Birds,” plus “The First Murder on Mars” and “A Greater Evil.” “Those three songs are key tracks, because they’ll give the listener an idea of where we’re headed sonically and thematically,” Kolter says. “I personally think those three are going to represent the next level of quality that we’re looking for.”
Band members: Peter Kolter (vocals/guitar), Pierson Whicker (drums), Tommy Scott (bass) and Constantine Grim (guitar)
Brown Dog Jr.
Genre: Alternative rock
Hometowns: The trio’s members live in Naples, Cape Coral and Fort Myers.
The album: The seven-song “Reflections” was released in April.
Key track: “Reflections.” “The title track sums up what the other songs say and represent, though more concisely, directly: Our lives are unpredictable and complex,” says singer/guitarist David Groves. “The beauty and pain we experience and may struggle with throughout our lives can be cumbersome, though it makes us who we are. And that’s OK.”
More about the album’s themes: “There’s an overarching theme of looking inward and forward,” Groves says. “A realization.”
Where the band got its name: “Brown Dog is the protagonist of a series of novellas by Jim Harrison,” Groves says. “It’s my ode to him and to his writing, which greatly inspires me.”
Band members: David Groves (vocals/guitar), Jeffrey Schechinger (bass/vocals) and Chris Muckerheide (drums)
Genre: Synth rock, darkwave, “witchwave”
Hometown: Cape Coral
The album: The 12-song album “Neon Royale” has been released in four “chapters” starting in October 2019. The final chapter, “Air,” comes out this October.
Key track: The album’s final song, “11 11 (Calling To The Sky).” “It definitely takes the listener on a journey,” says guitarist/keyboardist Xid. “It’s a two-part song, and it builds and builds into a huge finale. I’m particularly proud of the blending of guitars, synths, and orchestral elements.”
The album’s themes: “We wrote the album while we were all experiencing some tough times in our lives,” singer-guitarist Frankie Orion told The News-Press in 2019. “We used the elements to loosely represent the emotions associated with the grieving process.”
The four chapters of the album are based on the classical elements of matter: Fire, water, earth and air. “Fire represents love and anger,” Orion said. “Water is ambient and sad. Earth is grounding yourself. And air is healing and letting go.”
Band members: Colin Orion (bass/bass synth/vocals), Frankie Orion (guitar/vocals/pad synth) and Xid (guitar/keyboard/synth/programming/vocals)
The album: The 16-song “Passion Street” was released May 31. It features live versions of the band’s most popular songs, plus some covers. The album celebrates the duo’s 30th anniversary.
Key tracks: The upbeat rocker “When Love Comes Back To You” was written in the style of guitarist Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. The Kansas cover “Dust in the Wind” was the first song Kelvin Fischer ever heard girlfriend and bandmate Shelly Salter sing. “She really knocked it out of the park,” Fischer says.
Band members: Kelvin Fischer (vocals, guitar, keyboards and drums) and Shelly Salter (vocals, drums and percussion).
Genre/sound: Alt-Americana and country-tinged indie rock in the vein of Wilco or Silver Jews
Hometowns: Cape Coral and Fort Myers
The album: The 12-song “Steady Midnight” was released in February.
Key tracks: “‘Does Not Equal’ stands out because it’s high-energy and has a catchy horn part,” says drummer Marc Davis. “‘Passing Through’ might be my favorite track on the record. Loads of good playing, and Doug pulled off a gorgeous solo.”
Singer/guitarist Mike Cosden especially likes the song “Still, still, still.”
“The tracks that stick out to me are the ones that grew or changed the most during the process of writing and recording,” he says. “‘Still, still, still’ is a good example of that. It started off as a very minimalist idea and grew into something that sounded bigger and more ambitious.”
The album’s theme: “I overheard someone use the phrase ‘steady midnight’ in a bar,” Cosden says. “It had this evocative feeling to it, but was used as if it were a common term. And it started me off in a direction of writing lyrics around the theme of night and what it represents; the things we choose to hide in darkness.”
Band members: Mike Cosden (acoustic guitar and lead vocals), Gary Cosden (pedal steel), Doug Smith (lead guitar), Andrew Bernard (rhythm guitar and percussion), Jessica Cosden (piano, organ, percussion) and Marc Davis (drums, trombone, percussion)
Genre: Country and folk
Hometown: The Naples-born singer-songwriter now lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The EP: The five-song “Some Things Take Time” was released in July.
Key track: “Suits You Just Right.” “It’s about self-acceptance and expression,” Lyon says. “It believe it’s very important to do whatever it is in life that brings each of us happiness.”
The album’s themes: “This album is about growth and healing,” Lyon says. “It begins with sad emotional ballads and grows into jaunty fun tunes to end the EP.”
Genre/sound: Loud, lumbering, groovy, detuned metal
Hometown: Cape Coral
The album: The eight-song album “Freedom, Incorporated” was released in June. The father-and-son duo recorded it at Farmadelica Records.
More about “Freedom, Incorporated”: “I feel great about how the album turned out,” says drummer Ethan DuRant. “The guitars have a fat tone, the drums are crushing, and the vocals hit you in the face. It’s loud, but the style varies from song to song.”
Key tracks: “Toenail Betrayal Blues” was the first complete song Ethan ever wrote. “It is a personal song about a personal event,” he says. “Essentially, someone that I knew quite well didn’t accept one of my insecurities, and it happened while I was recovering from surgery on my toe. Hence, the title.”
Singer/guitarist Ned DuRant loves the song “The Black Veiled Bride.” “It’s super fun to play,” he says, “and a solid album closer, I think.”
Where the band got its name: “A Dizygote is basically twins in utero,” Ned DuRant says. “There are two of us, and we happen to be related … but not twins. We’re father and son.”
The album’s themes: “The theme is the duality of man, yin and yang,” Ned says. “We are two guys who are larger than the sum of our parts.
“We all have a choice in life — to choose to be good people or to hold people in contempt as if they are things to own and use. Every person has to make that choice. And we all see how that plays out on the world stage daily. Power and money vs. the rest of us.”
Band members: Ned DuRant (guitar, bass, lead vocals) and Ethan DuRant (drums, acoustic guitar, backing vocals)
Hometowns: Matlacha and Bokeelia
The album: The eight-song album “Jezebel” is scheduled for a digital release Oct. 30. A vinyl version will follow.
More about “Jezebel”: “It’s a new sound for Hotel Life,” says singer/guitarist/bassist Joe Harley. “We’re excited about the vibes. (It’s) stripped down, lots of space and unique instrumentation.”
Key track: “’Miami’ is one of our favorites,” says producer/drum programmer Howard “Merlin” Wulkan. “It makes you feel as if you were in a lost decade when things were easier going, the air was fresher and fun was there to be had.”
Band members: Joe Harley (vocals, guitar, bass), Howard “Merlin” Wulkan (producer, drum programming, arranging), Billy Summer (guitar, vocals), Gina Hendershot (vocals, keyboards) and Brandon Kidd (saxophone)
Learn more about Hotel Life: facebook.com/hotellifeband
Hometown: Fort Myers Beach
The EP: The 14-song album “Jimmy” was released in June.
Key track: “The final track ‘Care’ was started when I was visiting my father in the hospital last winter in Arizona,” Veach says. “I was so impressed with the professionalism and compassion of the nursing care that I wrote ‘Care’ about nurses.”
The album’s theme: “The underlying theme is about a relationship between a woman Jenny, her son Jimmy and an older next door neighbor,” Veach says. “About half the songs touch on them, their lives and relationships.”
Genre: Alternative rock
The EP: The self-titled, four-track “Mad Eye” comes out Oct. 16.
Key track: “Nightwalking.” “It’s about needing quiet and space during these incredibly turbulent times,” says producer/guitarist/keyboardist Howard Wulkan. “That theme is reflected in all of the songs.”
The EP’s other themes: “There are themes of mistrust, human need and solitude reflected in all of the songs,” Wulkan says.
Band members: Howard Wulkan (producer, samples, keyboard, guitar, arrangements), Freddie Dickson (lyrics, vocals) and Ryan Jarvis (drums)
Learn more about Mad Eye: facebook.com/wearemadeye
Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram)