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For Seattle's Rising Muzzle, the Melody Lingers

Pop music: The hot quartet forgoes grunge and angst to establish a buzz in the business. They perform Wednesday at the Galaxy.


Things seem to be evolving up around Seattle way.

Among the fabled grunge capital's hottest up-and-coming bands is a quartet called Muzzle, which performs Wednesday at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana.

Eschewing the formless, consciously angst-marinated roar that brought the city its reputation, Muzzle, just signed with Reprise Records, purveys a particularly melodic brand of hard pop with just enough of a punky bite to keep things contemporary for the kiddies.

Warm vocal harmonies, hook-laden material, chain-saw guitars and an excellent Keith Moon-like drummer in Burke Thomas make Muzzle come off like something akin to Badfinger on steroids.

Thomas--joined by guitarist-vocalists Ryan Maxwell and Wesley Nelson and bassist Greg Collingsworth--is an L.A. native who moved north a couple of years ago to check out the burgeoning Seattle scene.


Muzzle was formed in the summer of '94, but Thomas, 25, says he's not at all surprised by the industry buzz that quickly grew around the group.

"I've been in several bands in L.A., but there was such a good fit on the first rehearsal with this band that none of this is really a surprise to me," he said in a recent phone interview during the band's tour with Throwing Muses.

"We did all the trips. We went up to New York. Columbia wanted to sign us; Elektra came out; Interscope came out, Atlantic, RCA, and it came down to Reprise."

The decision may have come down to the willingness of one record company exec to do some routine schlepping for the band.

"Howie Klein, the president of Reprise, came out to see us, and he helped me carry my cymbal stands out to the car after the show," Thomas said.

"I was all like, 'You don't have to do this!' Then we went down to their office in L.A., and their personalities totally blew us away. They've gone way beyond what we could have expected without even having an album out yet."

Muzzle's maiden effort, "Lavolta," is completed and will be released in May. Though Thomas says he is dissatisfied with his drum work on the album, he feels it's a good overall representation of the group's sound, which reflects such acknowledged influences as the Beatles, Liz Phair, the Breeders, PJ Harvey and Guided by Voices.

"We like that sing-songy thing, but without getting too bubble-gummy at the same time," he said. "We try to sound as down-to-earth as possible. The Seattle scene is getting away from the dark, Nirvana-esque grunge and moving more toward the Presidents-style, tongue-in-cheek sort of thing. Parents and their kids are coming to the shows together."

* Muzzle, Think Tank, Swerve and Touch play Wednesday at the Galaxy Concert Theater, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. 8 p.m. $8. (714) 957-0600.

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