spirit and song. by Jason Harper
The Roman Numerals: Any song recorded this year
"Occupado," "My Life After Death (Parts I & II)," "Rule of Five" ... who cares which? The Roman Numerals are fuckin' great. This new-wave-riding band, made up of Record Bar owners Steve Tulipana and Shawn Sherril (can it get any better than owning a kickass bar and being in a kickass band?) plus Billy Smith and Pete LaPorte (both ex-Dirtnap), hasn't written a crappy song yet or put on a bad show. Unfortunately, it hasn't released an album, either. But the Numerals must be the only band in recent history to have inspired an otherwise shy and reserved Pitch music editor to leap onstage midset at the Grand Emporium and command people to come down to the motherfuckin' dance floor.
Mac Lethal: "Welcome to My Myspace Page" (www.myspace.com/maclethal)
On this novelty track, available at Mac's Myspace home page, Joe Good and Mac Lethal give hilarious, satirical takes on the Internet-hookup wonderland, with Mac rhyming to his own beats for over four straight, jaw-dropping minutes, unleashing laugh-out-loud lines and describing the famous site as a place where you can do your little custom top eight/And look at hot girls till you fuckin' bust your prostate. But watch out, Mac adds there are also a bunch of rappers that got zero flows and kids takin' pics in their emo clothes. Thank god somebody finally took the piss out of Rupert Murdoch's latest acquisition.
In the Pines: "Never Say Enough" (www.myspace.com/inthepines)
This is the number that kills 'em live. At any given show, the first way in which the six-piece In the Pines blows away a crowd is with its string section (made up of Laurel Morgan on violin and Erin Wight on viola). All of its songs are good, but none we've heard so far have the bow-on-gut firepower of "Never Say Enough." The song is also a great demonstration of the band's tradeoff vocals, with its two male and two female singers each contributing a different part of a conversation that builds to an acoustic climax of chugging guitars and cathartic strings.
Reach: "Comin' for You" (www.myspace.com/reach)
Reach's clipped KC-shout-out party rhymes, paired with Miles Bonny's sophisticated, jazzy beats, proved too much for the nationwide underground rap scene to handle. In a coup for Midwestern indie hip-hop, "Comin' for You" was the track that won our cuddly, sharp-tongued hero a national unsigned MC search sponsored by Toyota's marketing division. Yeah, maybe the Scion Next-Up competition was engineered to sell cars, but the majority of people who grooved to Reach's flow will never drive a Scion, and who can complain when one of our deserving own gets national props?
The Ssion: "World's Worth" (www.ssion.com)
The three-song, clear-vinyl 7-inch that contains the Ssion's raw and dirty contribution to local punk marks the group's departure from animal suits and high-concept live shows and its return to stripped-down rock and roll. Rachel Helm (singer Cody Critcheloe's "greatest woman in rock") shows Ramones-worthy guitar chops on "World's Worth" a song faster and nastier than a blow job in a train-station bathroom and Critcheloe's snarling vocals have never sounded so sick. The best thing about the newly revamped Ssion, though, is that this band just doesn't give a fuck.