There are weeks when everything suddenly feels so nostalgic, and last week was one of those times. While one old standby said goodbye for good (Gas Huffer played a triumphant, sold-out farewell show at the Crocodile), other cornerstones of the community were alternately basking in a new glow (Hattie's Hat celebrated a bold new remodeling that includes swank, dark wood booths in the bar and a fish tank with two small sharks in the dining area). And then there are the relationships that take a break to realign themselves—like two-thirds of the Catheters, who have reformed as the Tall Birds. Man, was it good to see Brian, Davey, and Leo taking the stage at the Sunset together again—and not have it end in a fistfight. They've left the Stooges influences and the harder punk elements alone for this new lineup, going for more garage-rock grooves and hints of Southern boogie. Keep an ear to the ground for these guys in the months to come.
Musicians aren't the only ones in search of evolution. Local promoters and bookers are constantly scanning the landscape for new places to host club nights. Sunday night's Fascinator at Vito's seems to be picking up momentum in that gorgeous space, and now Hana Teriyaki (1914 Eighth Avenue, near the cop shop downtown) is in the business of hosting local bands and DJs on a regular basis thanks to a bartender from the Rendezvous who's working on booking the place.
Mudhoney are also in the booking business. The Seattle punk stalwarts are not only releasing a killer new record in March (Under a Billion Suns), they've also been asked to curate part of this year's The United Sounds of All Tomorrow's Parties festival near London this May. The six-day, two-weekend blowout will be stocked with Northwest-approved talent, though, as the other curators include Sleater-Kinney and the Shins, as well as Devendra Banhart, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Ween. So far confirmed in Mudhoney's camp is a drool-worthy lineup of Comets on Fire, Black Mountain, the Drones, the Scientists, Country Teasers, David Dondero, Jon Wahl & the Amadans, Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, and the Flesh Eaters.
Tastemakers closer to home are going for that old Pho Bang feeling with the new monthly Physica (the "new age discotheque"). I went to their premiere installment last week, and man, did the flashbacks hit hard (great DJs; a mix of disco queens, punks, garage rockers, and flashy fashionistas; superb live music). I've mentioned before that the No Space gallery is behind this one, and they went all out, hanging gold and black eyes from the ceiling, spinning the best of the '80s singles, and generally pulling out a fun crew who danced, rocked, and drank till the wee hours. Of course, there was no comedy cabaret element, and nothing will replace Pho Bang, but the general vibe of anything can and will go was very reminiscent of that night. And as with Pho Bang, Physica is already establishing itself as a place to discover new talent, mixing up genres every which way. Danava were the band of the evening, and they are simply awesome—already one of my favorite Northwest acts. The Portland group is working on a debut record for the eccentric Troubleman Unlimited label, and they laid down what must've only been four songs in like 45 minutes. It's metal played like I like it, heavy enough to stone you, rhythmic enough to rock you, and slight traces of glam and art rock. (Check them out at www.myspace.com/danava). That Troubleman debut will be a double album, by the way—why curtail greatness? (Note: the February installment of Physica goes for the fey dance-pop tip with a performance by San Serac.)
The end of January marks the second U.S. EP release for Australia's Wolfmother, another heavy (metal) affection of mine. Dimension (Modular) shows the trio wailing about a purple haze while sinking into a deep, dark Sabbath and complex classic rock. Organ and guitar riffs crash like tidal waves, and irony is passed over for embracing the bombast of prog and flashes of Page and Plant. With a full-length on Universal imminent, the secret of their greatness won't be kept for much longer... check them out when they play Chop Suey on February 10. (One final metal-related item this week: super-producer Matt Bayles will be working with reigning royalty of big metal, Mastodon, here in Seattle next month. That band's new album will be out on Warner Bros.)
And in a total genre 360, I highly recommend checking out jazz great Julian Priester's oral history Q&A at EMP on January 21. The trombonist has performed with everyone from Herbie Hancock and Sun Ra to Charles Mingus, and is no slouch himself—I'm sure he'll have plenty of interesting knowledge to unload, which is especially relevant as jazz snakes further into experimental rock.