DJ Rice, Robico and the Death Ray Angels, and Curves.

Around Hear 

DJ Rice, Robico and the Death Ray Angels, and Curves.

The most impressive track on DJ Rice's standout compilation album is "Evil Foreboding," an intricate, multilayer cut laced with eerie creaks, whistles, and trickling piano melodies. A potent bassline rumbles beneath the horror-movie soundscape, and Little Sydds' slow, steady flow provides an ideal vocal match. It's the type of complex song that sounds as though it took days to construct, but DJ Rice could have crafted it during his lunch hour -- if making music weren't his full-time job. "Evil Foreboding" came together in 45 minutes, while other selections from The DJ Rice Compilation took fewer than 15 minutes to complete. The trick, Rice explains, is having a full buffet of beats from which his artists can select at any time.

"I make beats every day," he says. It's 10:30 on a Friday morning, and the early-rising Rice has already added two more gems to his beat bank. "They'll say, 'I need something slow and dungeon, something kinda grungy,' then I'll play it and they'll take it and go write to it." However, one track, the R&B-flavored "Can't Get Over You," came together a little differently.

"The song was written by my sister-in-law (Desiree Fahey) as a poem, and my daughter (Sheena) kept bugging me in the studio, saying, 'I can sing this,'" Rice says. "I never thought she could sing, seriously, but I put together a slow beat for her, and when she sang, I just took off and recorded it. It was her first time ever being recorded, and it took her 15 minutes." Rice's work with Sheena brings to mind Timbaland's collaborations with Aaliyah -- Rice's rhythmic intonations appear at intervals between her vocals, making "Can't Get Over You" the most radio-friendly cut on the album. But don't look for Sheena to drop a solo joint anytime soon. "She's an honor student at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, she's the captain of the varsity cheerleading squad, and she's involved in a lot of clubs," he divulges proudly. "She's got a lot of things to accomplish before I press her with the music, because it's very demanding."

Sheena's isn't the only female voice on the album. Chantal Rodriguez adds harmonies to several tracks, and Felony the Mistrous delivers "The Mistrous" with such furious intensity that West Coast veteran The Lady of Rage should be forced to surrender her stage name to this newcomer. The most prominent female presence is Wicced One, who appears on five songs, including the album's first four. Her high-pitched but gritty voice is sufficiently androgynous that it's not immediately obvious that a woman is on the mic. Rice says some hip-hop heads who have heard her only on mix tapes have shown up at a live showcase for his artists and been shocked. "Her stage performance is so full of energy, and people are like, 'Damn, that's a girl!'" he adds. "When you see her, you're totally drawn to her. That's what makes her so hot."

Rice says fans won't have to wait long to see Wicced One and the rest of his DropDown Records posse bring the heat in person (although there aren't any official dates to mark on calendars). Also coming soon is Wicced One's solo album, which Rice says will feature up to 16 songs, and records from Lace and Little Sydds, both of whom are featured prominently on the Compilation. While variety is common on artist samplers, Rice says listeners should expect diversity on these upcoming projects. "I want it to sound like eight different producers worked on these records."

Kiss of Death
Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have Kissed their army goodbye; the Misfits are still touring, but only in a somewhat pathetic Danzig-less incarnation; and few fans of either of these acts seem likely to adopt Marilyn Manson or the Insane Clown Posse as their next heroes. So what's a stage-blood-craving fan to do? Simply seek out Robico and the Death Ray Angels, a group that backs up scary punk tunes with plenty of vintage shock-rock antics from singer Robico. Makeup, fake blood, and demonic faces all play a crucial part in his stage presence. Strapping on a guitar renders him temporarily unable to stalk the stage and gesture maniacally, but his rockabilly flavored playing adds another dimension to the music that compensates for the break in the drama.

Adding to the intrigue, the Angels' talented drummer Spider Rodriguez occasionally plays with his drumset ablaze, although this stunt failed to work during the group's October 3 gig at The Hurricane. Nonetheless, the quartet managed to entertain the audience with fast-paced romps, gloomy slow burns, and a rare-for-a-punk-band series of solo showcases that displayed guitarist Slappy Johnson's metal chops, Rodriguez's powerful and precise stop-and-start flurries, and, against a sped-up backdrop, Nick Deathray's quivering basslines. Unfortunately, the Angels aren't booked for Friday the 13th, but they will play a sure-to-be-spooky set on Halloween night at The Hurricane with Man Planet and Drag Queen. More immediately, the Angels will frighten the Fred P. Ott's faithful on Sunday, October 15, as they open for the Polyplush Cats, Washington, D.C.'s answer to Nashville Pussy.

Curves Ball
When the Lilith Fair vanished, disappointed fans held out hope that someone would step up to fill Sarah McLachlan's shoes and promote a new all-day showcase for female musicians. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened, but localized events celebrating women's talents have sprung up across the country to fill the void. On Thursday, October 19, Lawrence's newest bar, Abe and Jake's (8 E. 6th Street), hosts such a concert from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. to spotlight the city's finest female singer/songwriters and to offer Curves, a compilation of these artists, to the record-buying public. Celia, a folk singer known for her clever wordplay, acoustic-guitar mastery, and popular Tuesday night gigs at the Brown Bear Brewery, assembled the lineup and contributed her own "Curly Hair" to the mix. Among the other vocalists featured on the CD are impressive up-and-comer Stephanie Hewett, who also secured the coveted opening slot for the Kelly Hogan/Neko Case show at the Grand Emporium on Monday, October 16; former Majestic Rhythm Revue singer Jen Brabec, who proves her sultry soulful style translates surprisingly well to acoustic folk; Meg Hooper, whose "Sentiments of a Single Mother" stands out as the album's strongest political statement; Megan Hurt, whose sweetly delivered "Let It Go Lullaby" begins with the sound of a cranking music box; and accomplished alt-rock veteran Tawni Freeland, who concludes the collection with a "Happy Ending." All of the aforementioned contributors, save Freeland, will appear at Abe and Jake's, where they will perform solo sets and one or more impromptu jams. This honor roll will reunite on October 25 at The Granada for a benefit concert to support the Women's Transitional Care Services shelter in Lawrence.

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