VARIOUS ARTISTS: Spokanarchy!: Original Soundtrack: CD/LP

This soundtrack is the accompaniment to the documentary Spokanarchy!, a look at the Spokane, Washington, punk scene during the late 1970s into the ‘80s. Bits of these songs are played through the documentary, but here are sixteen tracks in fifty-three minutes, from a number of bands you’ve never heard of. At first, this caused me to question the purpose of such a release, but as I thought about it I realized that not being well-known doesn’t mean a band is bad. This is more of a document of an unknown punk scene from a particular time that, until now, had not been recognized in its whole and displayed for the outside world. Spokane wasn’t a traditional music scene when it first started, though. There wasn’t an overriding influence from New York City or Los Angeles. Spokane was a mish-mash of styles: new wave, Ramones-influenced punk, freaky art scene stuff, and a little bit of this and that. So the range of bands here include the Pink Floyd-influenced new wave sound of Sweet Madness to the hardcore punk of Vampire Lezbos and the reggae influence of M’na M’na. I can’t help but be reminded of my suburban Indiana punk scene in the ‘90s and how, despite our location and lack of culture, some of the bands really were quite good and interesting. Spokane had the same thing going on a decade or two earlier, it would seem, just with different genres. I wouldn’t want to say all the songs on here are great. Just like a compilation of bands from my home area during my high school and college years, there would certainly be some subpar songs. The actual bands may be quite good, but it’s hard to say based on just hearing one or two songs. But, on the whole, I really enjoyed a number of these tracks. Terror Couple’s “This is Spokane, Fuck L.A.” and Vampire Lezbos’ “Plasma” were among my favorites (although both VL songs were up my alley). If you’re feeling adventurous, have some connection back to Spokane or Washington state, or want to hear an example of people building a punk scene far away from its traditional foundations during punk’s early days, then this soundtrack is for you.

 –kurt (