Around Hear

About a year ago, Spin offered a feature called The Shredder, in which twenty-some albums were reviewed mercilessly in thirty or fewer sentences. However, this wasn’t Spin‘s final word on these releases. The Shredder dismissed Everlast‘s solid Whitey Ford Sings the Blues as the ramblings of “a wack rapper who listens to Creed,” but the album blew up, and just a few months later, Everlast appeared on Spin‘s cover. In that spirit, a reminder to the artists who appear in this column’s bite-sized write-ups: If you do something feature-worthy, a feature will follow. If, on the other hand, your band has broken up or moved out of town while your disc sat in the review pile, consider this mention to be your hard-earned fifteen seconds of fame.

Compilations are always the best place to give multiple birds the Randy Johnson treatment. Radio Rage delivers 22 tracks from artists who have either performed live on Manhattan, Kansas, station KSDB 91.9 The Wildcat’s local music show, played at one of that program’s concerts or appeared in the studio for an interview. Among the highlights: Ultimate Fakebook‘s “Catch the Beat,” a number that epitomizes the tight, smart pop that has come to represent the KC-area sound; Effigy‘s harmony-filled light-speed punk romp “The Fall,” which showcases the talent that earned the group a spot on another comp (Mars Music’s The Best 16 Unsigned Bands in America); O’Phil‘s psycho-ska freakout “Down by Spin”; Ruskabank‘s and Brothers From Different Mothers‘ more refined but nonetheless horn-y, skankable selections; and Moneypenny‘s “Cockney,” which is powered by tight guitar and bass interaction and dramatic female vocals. Additional live tracks appear at show; the station’s address is

Space 380, a production company out of Columbia, Missouri, recently dropped Transmission Two, which includes “premiere music from Planet Earth.” More specifically, it features artists from both coasts, as well as two acts from Space 380’s hometown. On Blue Eyed Dog‘s “Monster,” the singer’s unaffected vocals, even as he delivers angsty lines, provides listeners with an “it’s only a song” reassurance. Jeff & Rocket‘s “Near the Far Hill,” described on the disc as “world new age,” sounds like a chorus of overcaffeinated office workers tapping their pencils on their desks to a piped-in playing of the Hill Street Blues theme song. The entire album is available for free download at

When a production company or radio station collects songs from various artists, it’s called a compilation, but when a DJ does the same, it’s just an album. DJ Booth keeps the party jumpin’ with Lost in San Francisco, maintaining a steady throbbing, rhythmic pulse while stitching together tracks from the likes of Daft Punk and DJ Assault. Booth recently left KC to return to school, but clubbers can keep up with his latest turntable exploits at

These days, it’s not just the rave crowd that’s keeping DJs in high demand. Heavy groups such as Trip Hop Children, who are neither trip-hop nor children, now often keep a record-spinner in residence. Jason Peters handles the scratching on the group’s Motion Discomfort, while seven other members, including three percussionists, bring the downtuned noise. The Trip Hop Children manage some innovation in a genre that seemingly was picked clean — check out the pummeling intro to “I’ll Remember” or the sharp, curving guitars on “Off the Hook.” Lyrically, the band ranges from self-congratulatory to self-loathing, with plenty of “Your mom’s a ho”-style baiting tossed in for intimidation. Stay tuned some twenty minutes after the conclusion of the last listed song for an epic monologue about a stolen bicycle set to thick percussion that extends the track’s total length to a behemoth 37 minutes. Perhaps singer Noah Neff has posted a photo of his pilfered two-wheeler on the Web to help speed up its recovery — check


Rap/metal’s influence has spread even to groups outside the genre. Like Trip Hop Children, traditional rockers such as File-13 can promise revenge against a “bitch” and a “whore” (this group is too old-school to use “ho”). But other than its final track, “Heartcrusher,” File-13’s disc proves radio-friendly, merging Black Sabbath-style bass gurgles with eerie guitar hooks, occasional nods to modern grunge-metal and shout-along choruses. For a surprisingly extensive list of File-13 merchandise, visit

8 Degrees also counts a DJ (Vandon, the 1200 King) as part of its crew, and he even does a few scratching solos in place of the traditional guitar variety. Still, there are plenty of crushing riffs on A Series of Moments, but singer Aaron Lambotte‘s voice is the group’s strongest weapon. Lambotte frequently raps, which is pretty much a given in this genre, but the actual singing is disarmingly tuneful, and his shouts, because they’re used sparingly, land with maximum impact. 8 Degrees is now based out of Los Angeles, but its Web site ( still lists Topeka contact information.

As the Trip Hop Children proved, band names can be misleading. For example, an alternative rock connoisseur might expect a group called 8 Miles Down to merge the ungodly blandness of Three Doors Down and 8Stops7. Instead, this acoustic-guitar-playing duo sings what could pass for sayings on inspirational posters (There are things we’ll never understand/We do the best with what we have …/Enjoy the moments as they pass). Lyrics are posted at for all your gooey self-reflection needs.

On the other hand, in-the-know music lovers might expect The Delta Rays to play rockabilly-flavored odes to automobiles, and they need only skip to “Little Red Wagon” to fulfill that prophecy. However, this talented group offers much more: the good-natured tax evasion tale “Blow This Town,” in which the singer vows to get the hell out of Dodge … City; the rocking stop-and-start boogie “Cutting the Cord,” which lives up to its lyrics about avoiding tired blues shuffles; and the jazz-informed “Dis’ Ol Net,” just to name a few. Examples of the group’s surf, rockabilly and blues acumen are available for free download at

S-Foil’s music isn’t even remotely Limp Bizkit-like — with its somewhat whiny vocals and crackling guitars, it’s more like Dinosaur Jr., Jr., or Dinosaur III — but an interview with the band hints at Fred Durst‘s influence. When asked which man or woman, living or dead, the group would most like to have “sit in” at one of its performances, it replied Christina Aguilera, “for certain reasons not having to do with music.” For more nuggets of wisdom, surf to

Superman walking is the stuff Super Bowl commercials are made of — who can forget Christopher Reeve rising from his wheelchair in a futuristic computer simulation? And the band Supermanwalking is the stuff commercials are made of as well — the kind of commercials that query “Who can forget Mr. Mister and Christopher Cross?” The band claims to be fluent at rock, blues, jazz, pop, funk and Latin music, but apparently when all these styles are tossed in the blender, few original flavors are retained, leaving a mild, inoffensive dish that could use quite a bit more spice. Visit for a few free downloads or just to watch the group’s logo soar majestically across the screen.

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