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Brave New Radio 

by Mike Corrigan

If you're just about going out of your mind waiting for Thin Air Community Radio (95.3 FM) to secure its license and start broadcasting... man, welcome to the club. All I can tell you is, don't panic and be patient. According to Thin Air's dedicated volunteer steering committee, it's coming. Soon we'll have our own low-power FM community station presenting Spokane radio listeners with fresh political and social perspectives and a genuine alternative to the mainstream, commercial music that is currently clogging our "public" airwaves. In the meantime, why not look deeply into your heart to see if there's something you might do to keep the momentum building.

Lucky you -- I've got just the ticket. Next Thursday night, July 18, four local hard rocking bands (Soma, Crushbone, Descent and Placid) and Club Say What will be donating their respective time, space and talents to throw the first in what is shaping up to be a series of summer concerts to benefit the nonprofit station. Thin Air will receive 100 percent of the door money helping in its quest to secure the cash necessary for purchasing a transmission tower.

The show's headlining band, Soma, though a relative newcomer to Spokane's live rock universe, is chock-full of scene vets, including guitarists Jake Evans (formerly of Downpour and Wormdrive) and Zaq Flanary (Downpour). Flanary (guitar/vox), Evans (lead guitar), Josh Burris (bass) and Scott Pate (drums) formed Soma (named after the government-sanctioned opiate in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World) in February. Percussionist Chris Lowe joined up in April. The band has been rehearsing relentlessly ever since -- as is immediately evident when you sit in on a Soma set.

"We do something with this band every single day," says Lowe. "If we're not practicing, we're recording or making flyers or promoting."

They play what they refer to as "acoustic-based loud rock," an intense, aggressive sound that is highly rhythmic thanks to Flanary and Evan's amplified twin acoustic guitar attack and the solid yet fluid bottom end provided by Burris, Pate and Lowe. Tension, dynamics and melody are manipulated with remarkable effectiveness. Lyrically, Soma isn't afraid to explore political themes. Flanary writes the songs, which are then arranged by the entire group.

"We are a political band," says Flanary. "That's what we do. There's a lot of shit that goes on behind closed doors in this society. You could say we're concerned about it."

The band's dedication has led them both to local stages (they are booked for every Thursday night this month at Club Say What) and to the digital realm, where they have codified seven songs into the form of an EP (Evans is credited as the recording engineer and the reluctant "producer"). A full-length, 12-song collection is also in the works. That recording will commence in August, and the CD should be available for official release in late September.

Though this Spokane five-piece collectively burns with intensity, confidence and an unfailing dedication to craft, they also seem realistic about what they are up against in the big, nasty -- and corrupt -- kingdom of rock.

"Everything I've ever done, I've done the hard way," reveals Flanary. "We're not doing this to get rich or anything, but we do want to make a living at it. And we'll take it as far as it will go."
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