Sounds Familiar

So Seattle's some kind of next big thing again, eh? That's the word spreading through the New York Times in two Northwest plugs in a row. On Sunday, April 20, Neil Strauss wrote: "Out of the ashes of grunge, Seattle rock has risen again, with bands like the Chromatics, Blood Brothers, Akimbo, Minus the Bear, and Pretty Girls Make Graves." A day later, Chris Nelson gave the local hype machine more gas, but included very little information in much more space. Nelson wrote that the local scene is "flowering" thanks to three bands: Mudhoney, the Long Winters, and, again, Pretty Girls. While it's great that the piece gave these acts props--and also talked about the Vera Project and local labels like Dirtnap (one of my favorites), Pacifico, Barsuk, and Suicide Squeeze--articles like this one still make me cringe. Three bands (one of which has been around since the first time Seattle was called the "next big thing") hardly project Seattle becoming the next Detroit (which was the next Seattle). That's not to say that Seattle is quiet by any means--great acts are flourishing here, from avant noise to pop to hiphop to rock to punk to electronica to whatever--and I can't wait for the Capitol Hill Block Party (July 12-13) to showcase a good chunk of the best--but I hope that if this is the beginning of the media spotlight's return, the scopes widen (although big props to Neil Strauss for digging below the surface in his plug).

Speaking of Mudhoney #1: The band is playing an all-ages benefit for 2nd Avenue Pizza at the Showbox on May 8 with King Cobra. The show will raise money for the pizza place/pint-sized music venue to help pay for legal bills from a recent lawsuit. SAP has been host to a number of really great experimental and straight-ahead shows, from the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Akimbo, and Teen Cthulhu to Tractor Sex Fatality, and anything people can do to support the place is good in my book.

Speaking of Mudhoney #2: Mudhoney was one of four bands photographed for a small Sub Pop feature in The Face recently (the issue with Justin Timberlake on the cover). The other bands featured in the UK style mag included Hot Hot Heat, the Shins, and the Thermals, but the funniest thing about the two-page spread was that Sub Pop employees got mislabeled as members of the bands (Megan Jasper was never in Mudhoney, and even if you didn't know she's the label's GM, there never was a woman in that band). Sub Pop celebrated its 15th anniversary last Sunday with a benefit for the Vera Project at the Crocodile that included, among others, new signees the Constantines, a great Canadian band that reminds me of a little less melodic Les Savy Fav.

The same night as the Sub Pop party, the Ex Models, XBXRX, and Holy Molar hit the Graceland for a sparsely attended but pandemonium-filled show that saw those three bands finish out their sets in under an hour and a half. Ex Models were excellent--a jarring, angular New York punk band with highly controlled noise explosions, but the other two groups got more points on the performance factor. XBXRX came out in matching yellow and white outfits, set up on the floor, and screamed during the whole set about how this is "our fucking show" before spazzing out like younger, messier Blood Brothers. They finished their set by throwing all their equipment on to the stage and walking off behind a wall of feedback. Holy Molar came out in dentist garb and invited the audience on the stage, making for a small mosh pit that went on around the band (which includes members of the Locust and Get Hustle), and giving the singer an even bigger black eye than the one he already had when some overexcited kid kneed him in the face. Great music too.

And one huge plug for a group of teenagers out of Everett called the Familiars--these guys fucking rock! Thanks to Jed Mahu and Zach Cowie for turning me on to the band they've been hyperactive about for weeks. The Familiars are very much in line with the Catheters/Mudhoney sound of things, but imagine those bands dirt poor, on the tail end of high school, and even nastier-sounding than they already are. The Familiars have nothing but a demo right now, but hopefully that will all change in the near future.

jennifer@thestranger.com