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by INLANDER & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & M & lt;/span & ost big cities have one. Portland has Everclear, Sacramento has Cake, New Orleans has Better Than Ezra, and Phoenix has the GIN BLOSSOMS. Back in the day when alternative rock wasn't all about tight pants and eyeliner, the Gin Blossoms took what was hot (punk riffs frosted with a pop sensibility) and created a chart-topping album that helped classify a genre. Nowadays we hear the same sound on the radio every day, but most of the time it's either derivative enough to bore or sappy enough to snub.

Thing is, Gin Blossoms were the guys who banked on this sound and they're still doing it to this day. They've released a new album, and they've clearly been promoting a tour for some time now. Despite the comeback, though, it's still nice to sit back and remember the first time you heard them sing on the Empire Records soundtrack.


Gin Blossoms at the Coeur d'Alene Casino on Friday, June 29 at 7:30 pm. $20-$30. Visit or call 325-SEAT.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & ake some rebel punk, mix it with some Mick Jagger-like vocals, add some Beatlesque piano and you get the thrasher/punk band THE PHARMACY. Totally independent, The Pharmacy is currently traveling all over this side of the States bringing out a sound similar to Jet without the obvious similarities to the past classic-rock mega-artists Jet seemed to figure no one would notice.

You can hear it in The Pharmacy's music, and they list on their MySpace page -- influences like ELO and The Beatles. They seem to take their music one step further than emulation and have a combined sound that's unique and refreshing. Their sound is full and loud and melds together some synth that does sound similar to the sound Phil Spector added to "Let it Be," especially in the song "Little Toys on a Shelf". Their stage appearance is reminiscent of Spector, too, though so far without the gun-toting mania.


The Pharmacy at Empyrean on Friday, June 29 at 8 pm. Price TBA. Call 838-9819.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & lt-rock is a fairly ambiguous term, and it's only becoming harder to define, so it's nice when a band comes along that helps reset the standards. THE TRIUMPHANT RETURNS take us back to the punk-infused sounds of such bands as Sugar and Husker Du. The jackhammer feel of the power chords define the sound of these local Spokane rockers. The guitar is loud and droning, and heavy with a high-energy buzz. The vocals are lean and the whole sound has a primitive garage band feel.

If you like your music like water from a fire hydrant, you will love getting drenched from the noise these guys produce. Simple sounds with a kind of pop power that matches their name; there is a certain triumph to it. And as you listen, you are likely to return to the music they create when you need to quicken your pulse and improve your spirits.


The Triumphant Returns with the Little Penguins, The Jonnyforest and La Cha-Cha at Empyrean on Saturday, June 30. Time and price TBA. Call 838-9819.
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