Local Music: Buzzworthy1

Cyrus Fell Down


David Plell constantly sounds like he's shredding his vocal chords in order to contort his muddy tenor into the high, cracked, vaguely British cackle he sings under. He didn't always sound like that. At the beginning of "Program 0071," the song that marks the earliest instance of Cyrus' now well-explored sound, Plell's tenor is still in place. Halfway through the track, though, it rises into a choked scream, then quickly turns, becoming a yelp from the diaphragm. The Britishness isn't in place yet, but the band's central aesthetic is. While the bandmates (Plell singing and playing guitar, Cory Mason-Phipps on drums and Aaron Anderberg on bass) all have incredibly precise musicianship (Plell taps, Phipps has a wicked double kick), Cyrus Fell Down thrives at the place where precision submits to entropy.

Plell's caterwaul is a morphing, ricocheting ball of fused emotions, pain and anger and impotence and fury. The wall of sound the band creates around that is frenetic, changing tempo and tone frequently, building complexities into the music then blowing it away with some well-placed thrashing. Response has been fierce, most of all from other bands. Hockey's Jerm Reynolds said he was blown away by their performance, "I've honestly never seen anything like it."

"We've gotten a good reaction after every single show, even though we've played some really bad shows," says Anderberg. And that reaction has led to offers to play with just about every hard-rock leaning band in town. Indeed, the best marker of how quickly the band has risen to prominence is the sheer number of shows the band has been asked to play. High school bands are usually relegated to a gig or so a month, whenever they fit the town's inconstant all-ages circuit. Cyrus Fell Down's unilateral ability to blow minds has made them a near-permanent fexture at the Empyrean's punk/hxc/metal nights.

Though they've clearly hit upon something special, it doesn't seem as though the band expected it, their rapid ascent was most surprising to the band itself. You get the sense they worry it's an anomaly, as though success outside Spokane won't be so quick in coming. "The plan is to keep it up," says Plell, "depending on how the tour goes."

August will mark their first trip out of town, taking them down as far as L.A. and Flagstaff before returning. It feels like a vital proof of rock concept for Plell, in a way that being embraced by rappers, emo kids, the indie throngs and old-ass metal heads locally isn't. The other guys seem more emboldened by the success they've found here this year. "We're at the fun parts," says Mason-Phipps, "it would be ridiculous to stop." Anderberg echoes that: "How can we stop? It feels like we're just starting."

And an impressive start it's been.

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Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.