Toby Keith & Reba McEntire Feature From The Inlander

The American Way

Which country star best represents our country’s values?

It’s a dark time for our country. We’re in so much debt we had to raise a ceiling (making this our worst ceiling-related crisis since 1984, when Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three informed us that the roof was, in fact, on fire). NASA’s space shuttle program is kaput. Macho Man Randy Savage is dead.

Times like this call for a kick-start from the most purely American music: country. And in our moment of darkness two of the genre’s champions — Toby Keith and Reba McEntire — come riding into Spokane on their noble steeds (in the shape of posh tour buses — not to ruin the illusion).

With both stars strutting and singing on Spokane stages this week, the question becomes: Which of the two is more likely to help us out of this national abyss? Or to put it more bluntly: Who is more “America”? (Category winners are in bold.)


Lyrical Patriotism

TOBY: Keith’s no-nonsense patriotism was best summed up in his post-9/11 ode “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” with the line, “And you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A, ’cause we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way!” You can’t find a more in-your-face kick-ass American song outside of the Team America: World Police theme.

REBA: While McEntire can do a mean rendition of “God Bless America” and her songs are littered with Americana, her tunes tend to avoid the politica

Fulfilling the Capitalist Dream

TOBY: Keith has sold more than 13.5 million albums, which is no small feat except that…

REBA: … McEntire has sold more than 56 million albums. Well, this one’s no contest.

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Vendetta Red Feature From The Inlander

Seeing Red

Vendetta Red thinks they never got a fair shake, but they’re trying one more time.

It was 2003, and it was gonna be Vendetta Red’s year. The Seattle pop screamo outfit was set to release its major-label debut Between the Never and the Now. Screamo looked to be on the verge of a mainstream breakthrough.

The band hired hit-making producer Jerry Finn (Blink-182, Sum 41) to polish some of their best songs — songs they were sure were winners. And the band was even featured on a Pepsi radio ad as an act that was going to break out that summer.

But success never came. It would be one thing if this was due to the end product being weak, but that was hardly the case. Between the Never and the Now was (and remains) the pinnacle of melodic screamo. The fact that no one seemed to dig it shocked the band’s singer, Zach Davidson.

“As a songwriter, I always thought that my music, as extreme as my lyrical content can be, could be commercial. I always thought my music could be on the radio just as much as the Smashing Pumpkins,” he says. “So it was really surprising when, after we released a record and finally got a major label contract, nobody gave a f—.”

“It was devastating, to be quite honest.” Part of Davidson’s resentment stems from the success of bands borrowing bits from Vendetta Red’s melodic scream blueprint.

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