The Melvins, Bloody Blades, and Bronze Farewells

Last week, venues around town provided a good stretch of music that could blanket your ears with heavy, sludgy metal like a comforter made of wet sand. On Monday, May 5, the Melvins came back to Seattle dressed in women's lingerie and black trench coats, playing a sold-out show to a ravenous Showbox audience that included kids singing along in the front row who were young enough to be Buzz Osborne's offspring. Although I like a lot of the records the Melvins have released over the years, I'll admit I'd never seem them live before last Monday, and in concert, their music spread through the speakers like earthquake tremors, getting more massive as they went along until everyone was completely under their command. I was definitely impressed, if not deafened, by the experience.

On Wednesday, it was a local metal trio turned duo that took the spotlight for the night. The Whip were pared down to bassist Jared Warren and drummer Scotty Jernigan, as guitarist Joe Preston was still touring his one-man experimental massive, Thrones, while the other two played Graceland. Even as a duo, though, the chemistry between Warren and Jernigan (both formerly of Karp) brought the band through, and while Preston adds a lot of technical prowess to the act, everyone in attendance definitely still got their money's worth in his absence--although I am looking forward to seeing them as a three-piece again soon. Unfortunately, the same praise couldn't be said about New York headliners Unsane, who played what one friend who attended the show described as "the same one song over and over" for god knows how long. I have to say I prefer Chris Spencer's newer--and now defunct, I believe--act, Cutthroats 9, to Unsane's live monotony. Backing up a bit, though, the Whip recently made music tastemaker/BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel's Tracklistings rundown with their new seven-inch on Missoula's Wäntage USA records, "Freelance Liaison/Sheep and Goat Judgment." Other local bands who also made a hit on Peel's radar: Chromatics (old lineup R.I.P.) for "Washed Up on a Beach of Infants" from their new Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz CD, and death metal powerhouse Teen Cthulhu, whose awesomely gruesome-looking record Ride the Blade made Peel's recommended Record Box a few months back. Locally, Cthulhu recently released a series of Blade copies numbered in actual blood (to complement the bloody body images decorating the cover), but if you're looking for a copy with the band's dried fluids marking it, I'm sorry to say they just sold out. (Blood-free versions are still available, however.)

Seattle's about to lose yet another great hard rock band soon, as, after a rocky past year, local quartet the Bronze is about to take an indefinite hiatus. In an e-mail sent out to their fans last week, frontman Craig Mueller said he was leaving Seattle for sunny Southern California soon, and announced that he will be mastering some of the Bronze's recording sessions with Jack Endino for what will hopefully be a fall release. The quartet, which includes Sludgeplow's rhythm section, will play their last show Thursday, May 15, at the Crocodile. Opening that night will be Argonaut, Totfinder, and Actual Technology--the latter another project by Matt Lebens from Olympia's talented, mathy noisemakers Quarterhorse. Lebens passed along an Actual Technology cassette demo a couple weeks ago, and it's pretty aggressive, straight-ahead metal. Not for the weak of heart by any means.

In other music-related news, Frankie Chan finished his first comic, Ashtray Monument, recently. Anyone who's seen the Graceland co-booker hard at work on spiky-haired, punk/indie-rocker doodles knows the guy can draw, and his self-published first work is a solid display of his talents. Alongside small-sized fliers he's created for shows (Ugly Casanova, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Botch, Cheap Trick), the trim, 12-page book tells the story of a crush-turned-love triangle, and showcases Chan's artistic side. His fliers are definitely some of my favorites in this city, along with the work of Nat Damm (of Akimbo). And if poster art is your thing, the EMP opened a new exhibition spotlighting "music-related poster art from the Pacific Northwest." Titled Paper Scissors ROCK, it includes work from Peter Bagge, Jeff Kleinsmith, Frank Kozik, Jim Blanchard, Art Chantry, and more.

Finally, the ongoing saga of Zak's continues, as the fate of the dive bar still hangs in the balance. I'm crossing my fingers on that one.