Smells like nostalgia; the concept album trend.

Is it just the Gnome, or has everyone noticed that Comedy Central seems to rerun the Saturday Night Lives with Pearl Jam and Nirvana as musical guests like every few weeks? The young and as-yet-unjaded Eddie Vedder strutted across the screen last weekend as his long-haired bandmates flailed around him. Then your couch potato-like correspondent trolled around the Web for awhile and stumbled on a Boston Phoenix article by ex-Seattleite Grant Alden, who waxes nostalgic about Mudhoney as a result of the double-disc retrospective Sub Pop released in January. (If you haven't picked it up yet, and you already sold all your 7-inches on Ebay, it's called March to Fuzz, and it's fab!) The ex-Rocket editor and current No Depression copublisher rightfully points out that for a brief time, "Mudhoney were the best band in the world." "Don't argue," Alden goes on, "I was there." Well put.

Enough with the teary-eyed nostalgia. What of all these new albums flooding out from the Emerald City? (What a dated nickname, by the way; why aren't we called "The City That's Near Microsoft's Campus" or "The Kinda-Still-Relevant Music City" or "Starbucks Town" or something else that makes sense?) Evidently, Seattle's working on a new craze, but the Gnome doubts whether it'll catch on with the kids. It's a return to the concept album. Yes, even as some high-tech geeks proclaim the death of the album because, they say, digital downloading will make everyone wanna listen to singles rather than full-lengths. Hmmm. That's too much to think about, eh? Anyway. Pedro the Lion's Winners Never Quit (due out on Jade Tree March 28) places two brothers in a metaphorical land where they'll learn important lessons about life, religion, and family. Over the course of eight variously folky and rockin' tunes, these bros wander in and out of forests, grappling with all sorts of philosophical questions. Two gnarly thumbs up from the Gnome for Pedro (who, by the way, play a couple shows at the Crocodile Saturday 3/18). Also goin' thematic are the Makers, whose Rock Star God (out on Sub Pop April 18) opens with a narrator who sets the scene: Backstage at a rock club in the Northwest, it's midnight, and a band's about to start their performance. Over the course of the album, garage-rock's one-time kings use all sorts of unlikely instrumentation such as violins and mandolin and acoustic guitar to accompany the tale of a hopeful young man who travels the gritty road to rock stardom. It's probably the first time since the '60s—remember the Kinks?—that a garage band has played off a concept so well. Now if only frontman Michael Machine would stop acting like he runs this town, he might actually earn the right to run it. . . . You betcha!

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