Hey now, you're an allstar; plus, club wars?

Whew! The Gnome's new favorite artist is comin' to town this week, and that means I'll have to slink out from under my mildewy shelter to breath the fresh air at the Key Arena. Up 'til now, your diminutive correspondent has been able to get his Lenny Kravitz fix simply by partaking in his most beloved activity: TV watching! That's right, good ol' Lenny sold his soul, um, I mean his singles—"I Fly Away" and "American Woman (who's not Lisa Bonet)"—to television advertisers before the tunes had slithered off radio's foul playlists. Coincidentally, opening band at this Friday's musical feast is Smashmouth, which skipped the formalities and wrote an ad jingle, "Allstar," as the first single for its new disc. The Gnome loves a band that cuts to the chase.

A band that's chasing to be cut from the top echelon of the hipster ranks is Death Cab for Cutie. The Gnome hears that the band may take Marcy Playground up on an offer to open an upcoming tour. Seems frontman and former Evergreen student John Wozniak likes Death Cab almost as much as sex and candy, and he'd love to have the Seattle quartet lend some cred to the Playground cause.

It's probably a good idea for a band to leave town until the dust from the upcoming club war settles. Graceland a.k.a. the former Off Ramp has a pre-re-grand opening Friday with an ultra-rare visit from the Canadian pop maestros in Sloan, the type of band that would usually play the Crocodile. The Croc lost the battle to bring the Canucks to the heart of Belltown, but landed some savory shows in the meantime, including New York's Blonde Redhead (October 27) and Luna (November 11). Look for heated competition in the next few months, not only between Graceland and the Croc, but between the new I Spy (ex-Weathered Wall) and ARO.space, and maybe even the revivified Century Ballroom and the Tractor.

In another duel, two of Seattle's finest will square off Saturday in a battle of record release parties. The Fastbacks plug their fine new collection of old-school punk rock, The Day That Didn't Exist at the Croc, while Joel R.L. Phelps and the Downer Trio celebrate the release of their absolutely excellent Blackbird across town at the Breakroom. Phelps and his boyz Robert Mercer and William "Bill" Herzog have crafted a still graceful but thankfully more rockin' record compared to past efforts, but while the Gnome can do nothing but lavish praise on it, some questions linger. Why are the song titles scrawled illegibly? And what the hell does "R.L." stand for anyway? Ricki Lake? Rock Laureate? And one more thing: If it's Joel R.L. Phelps and the Downer Trio, shouldn't there be one more guy in the band? You betcha!

You can reach the Metro Gnome at metrognome@seattleweekly.com.

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