For a city that spawned Frank Zappa, Philip Glass, Tori Amos, and Ric Ocasek -- not to mention Sisqo -- Baltimore gets little of the respect music buffs heap on towns like Detroit and Memphis. But a surge of local bands, labels, and venues could bolster Charm City's modest reputation. Following in the tradition of hometown oddballs Zappa and John Waters, Oxes have been making a national name for themselves with Oxxxes, released by Baltimore-based Monitor Records in 2002. The trio's hard instrumental rock seems improvised until it collides in moments of stunning coordination. At gigs, cordless-guitar-strapped players run amok, confronting fans. Lake Trout -- who met as music students and play rock informed by Pink Floyd and DJ Shadow -- are poised for the mainstream when Another One Lost is released in August on Palm Pictures. And Sisqo notwithstanding, Baltimore has a rich hip-hop scene. Labtekwon, who in May released Hustlaz Guide to the Universe on local Morphius Records, raps about politics, pot, and aliens. ''Things are finally happening,'' says Morphius' Stephen Janis. ''You have productive labels, new venues. I've been here 12 years, and I've never seen so much local industry.'' Take that, Motown.