Spokane, Washington’s local weekly The Inlander has delved deep into Jason Campbell’s music in a recent article entitled “Lonely Are the Brave” detailing his band Mirror Mirror’s recent climb up the Spokane club and bar scene. What isn’t apparent in the write-up is that Spokane has, over the years been a kind of incubator of Campbell’s darkly romantic gloom-rock. A native to Spokane, Campbell spent years playing in Spokane in the 90s with several different bands. He bounced between Olympia and Portland for awhile also playing and recording music but never quite clinching the momentum to garner this kind of write-up. On the other hand, maybe people just weren’t paying attention.
Spokane is an arid city with remarkably distinct seasons that stands alone amongst farmland and Ponderosa Pine covered hills. It’s heart lies in a valley in Eastern Washington – the last major outpost on Interstate 90 before the expanse of the Great Plains. It is the largest city between Seattle and St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a large enough burg that it touts itself as the capitol of the Inland Empire. A moniker that once had us all speculating about David Lynch’s announced film of the same name (it actually references a place in Southern CA). Was it (Inland Empire) about our strange hometown? Lynch spent time in Spokane having been born in nearby Missoula, Montana. As Spokane doesn’t seem to have many local celebrities – unless you count Craig T. Nelson and a few sports stars – our artsy crew took pride in the fact that Lynch walked our streets and that his movies might have been influenced by the truly odd characters and landscape Spokane exhibits. It is a conservative stronghold in mostly blue Washington, but it also has a very rich array of subcultures that thrive purely on their own fuel. Nary a word in the local press was printed about the underground scenes, underage church basement noise shows and DIY warehouse raves in the 90s. Spokane has seemed to morph from a culturally starved backwater to a more viable petridish of the arts. The local press is now starting to take notice.
Spokane has garnered many detractors, myself among them. One thing is clear however, Spokanites know good music when they hear it. After it is the hometown of Ben L. Robertson (drums/Aphonia co-founder) and Campbell. Both spent significant amounts of time on both sides of the cascades and it seems fitting, if not perfect, that the Mirror Mirror would reform and receive the notice that Olympia, Seattle and Portland collectively neglected.
Indeed, there is a hint of David Lynch in the music of Mirror Mirror. I can see Campbell as sharing crooning company with Julee Cruise, Lynch’s oft utilized anti-diva. His vocals are part of lyrical canvas both vague and specific, full of shadows and mystery. It is a fitting soundtrack to a city that stands alone near the precipice of the the Great Plains, which is to say, near something huge.