Various artists, Southeast eXports III
The new local/regional compilation disc from FM-rock WNFZ's Southeast Exports radio showcase offers powerful, galvanizing evidence that the Knox-area music scene is as vibrant as ever, the scarcity of venues and a dearth of public interest notwithstanding.
Most of the bands featured on eXports 3 exist on the heavier end of the sonic continuum, yet there's still an enormous diversity of material here, from the exhilarating punk/power-pop of local fellows such as Joey's Loss ("Without You") and the late, lamented Kidsnack ("Circus Tricks") to the throw-back ’80s charms of Knoxville's Senryu ("Kitty") to the lascivious shock-rock of Charlotte, N.C.'s Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 (their menacing contribution "The Witch Is Dead" is one of the disc's many highlights).
And while eXports carries more than a fair-sized portion of the stultifying modern metal that constitutes much of WNFZ's day-to-day playlist, local contributors such as Straight Line Stitch and Fallen and the ferociously charming Element 8 at least flog those dead horses with sufficient energy and conviction to hold your attention through the end of a track.
Not surprisingly, most of the best tracks on eXports 3 are those that stray farthest from the bludgeoning norm; melodic post-grungers Copper offer both harmony and finesse on their well-crafted contribution, "Miss December," and local hero Todd Steed's Ape Life provides an always-welcome dose of the singer/guitarist's goofy wit on a cut entitled "North Knoxville."
SouthEast eXports 3 concludes with a funky, funny hip-hop/reggae ditty from Jackson, Tenn.'s five-piece Taco and Da Mofos: "Summertime in da JTC." The bongo backdrop and breezy vibe of "Summertime" are wholly at odds with most of the mosh on the rest of eXports; and for that reason, it's the perfect resolution to a very satisfying and affirming local anthology. Kudos to WNFZ.