When it comes to a commitment to their craft, Spokane's local hip-hop artists are at the top of their collective game. How do I know? Call any of their phone numbers and you'll hear that these men and women even go so far as to rap their answering machine greetings. Now that's commitment, folks.
Many of these phone messages are completely unintelligible, but make no fuss -- it's these beat-brainiacs that put out their soul-spilling lyrics to Spokane listeners in hopes of spreading their love for the art of hip-hop.
Always looking for a venue for their art, a mouthful of Spokane's most enterprising young emcees plan to put on the "Bad Penmanship" show this Saturday. The show will feature the always popular Locke and DJ Parafyn, the talented Shaman and Nephilum as well as Cursive Adonis, Freetime Synthetic, Airaim, Eric Beats and a female rapper, Jada.
The show will exhibit the outside talent of Soul Rhettoric, a Portland-based rapper with a laid-back candor and a pace reminiscent of Chali 2na of Jurassic 5. Freetime Synthetic, one of the show's organizers, says that bringing in outside talent like Soul Rhettoric helps to mix up the quality of the show -- something that is necessary in Spokane where the pool of rappers is miniscule.
"[The show] will be a step forward as far as the ground-leveling of hip-hop," he says of adding different artists to the usual lineup. "It'll just be a step up from [any] previous show."
In preparation, some of the scheduled acts for the Bad Penmanship show collaborated and recorded a song called "Assembly Required." The song is carried by Shaman, who delivers the chorus "Nobody's the best / step by step we crept closer to success and we built this village on respect / You can feel it in your chest when it's as real as it gets / everybody's got something to express" -- perhaps a message from Spokane rappers that the scene is one of acceptance and artistic expression.
While many of these Spokane emcees haven't quite grown enough to make the switch from heavy-handed poet Pampers to full-blown rapper pants, the fact of the matter is that they are making music for the rest of Spokane to enjoy.
The Noise of Life -- I hate labels. I bet you hate labels, too. But sometimes, you have to admit, they're all you've got to go on. Take rock bands, for instance. This poor tiny planet is flooded with them, and there are times when the only way to slog through the music morass in any meaningful way is to engage in a little categorization. I mean you have to start somewhere. But then, how can music writers use such tags such as "indie rock," "shoegazer," or "Brit-pop" over and over again to convey useful information about a particular group's sound without sounding trite or dismissive?
This quandary -- along with the aforementioned tags -- is brought to you by the Low-Flying Owls, a San Francisco Bay-area quartet who hammer out a brand of brooding yet surprisingly and refreshingly accessible guitar rock that some have compared to early (Psychocandy, Automatic) Jesus & amp; Mary Chain and middle-period Flaming Lips. They will be in Spokane at the B-Side this Friday night for a little shindig with more-than-fine local bands Burns Like Hellfire and the Proles.
The sonic signature of the Low-Flying Owls' new long player, Elixir Vitae (on Stinky Records) is a mix of fuzzy British noise-pop and classic California stoner rock a la Iron Butterfly. Sound like a mess? Well, it isn't. With thick atmospheres formed from the collision of fat guitars, ethereal keys and a hypnotic rhythm section, LFO keeps things on the tight side of loose, on the ironic side of serious and on the approachable side of lunacy. Guitarist/songwriter Jared Southard's vaguely sinister vocal delivery pushes through the web with just enough urgency to make you sit up and take note of the words. Meanwhile, the shimmering ruckus of Southard and his mates (guitarist/keyboardist Andy Wagner, bassist Michael Bruce and drummer Sam Coe) is pure ear candy for those, like me, infatuated with drone, feedback and other such lovely aural intoxicants.
It's a noisy trip to be sure, but one with an itinerary comfortably recognizable enough for all but the most provincial of passengers.
MIA -- Yeah, I missed you, I missed you and now I gotta -- kiss you. Referring to our Local Music Issue of a fortnight ago, I stated (in the band listing section) that I had done my best to list every working performer and band in the land. It was my intention to leave no one, no band, out. But as is the case with any human endeavor, mistakes were made, and perfectly fine, hard-working musicians were mistakenly omitted. Apologies to all. Here now are a few I missed. (I surely won't miss 'em again.) Thanks for yanking my chain, people. It's the only way I'll ever learn.
Tina Denning & amp; Lockdown
File under: Blues, R & amp;B and a little funk
The Other White Meat
File under: Comfortable old-time rock 'n' roll
File under: Rock-reggae-pop mash
File under: Acoustic alternative
So much for the mea culpas this time around. Remember, I really do appreciate the feedback. And to those of you whom I inadvertently neglected but who failed to call me on it, what are you waiting for? Those numbers again are email@example.com, 325-0634, ext. 234. Stay tuned.
Publication date: 02/19/04