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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Remixes, Rerecordings, and Reworked Riffs

By Daniel J. Katz
STAFF REPORTER

Why do so many bands receive airplay for the wrong singles? Look at Soul Coughing, for instance. They had a radio hit with the bouncy but mundane “Circles,” then released a multilayered and infectious tune called “Rolling” only to see the mainstream public reject it. The latest example of this phenomenon is the gradually increasing quality and decreasing success of Fuel’s radio singles. While “Shimmer” hit the top of the modern rock charts and “Bittersweet” received modest exposure, so far Fuel’s newest release, “Jesus Or A Gun,” is tanked on a national scale. “Shimmer” is a decent pop song, and “Bittersweet” is a stomping assembly of sliding guitar riffs and vocal energy, but “Jesus Or A Gun” is by far the best of the three, tumbling between various riffs and vocals without losing momentum. Hopefully, DJs will give “Jesus” a second chance at radio stardom before crucifying it. (Ouch. Sorry.)

Mike Ness’ “Don’t Think Twice”

Mike Ness’ solo album is the culmination of a career as the front man of Social Distortion, the quintessential punk band whose albums tend to sound like the same two or three songs repeated four or five times. Ness’ first single, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” sounds exactly what you’d expect from a punkster doing an acoustic cover; it’s earthy and real, but repetitive and shallow. It’s a nice effort, but it’s a cover that didn’t need to be recorded.

Thisway’s “She Takes”

I’m absolutely in love with the new Thisway single, “She Takes.” Granted, the chord structure in the chorus is ripped directly from the main riff of the Refreshments’ “Good Year,” but in that song the riff was the only decent thing. Thisway adds to it a catchy melody for the verses, strong vocals, and a rich acoustic-electric sound. Shameless theft? More like much-needed repair.

Sara McLachlan’s “Possession”

Despite my advocation of Canadian music, I’ve never liked Sara McLachlan’s sound. However, the new live version of the already overplayed “Possession” is a welcome improvement. I’ve heard many times that McLachlan’s concerts are excellent, and this track is supporting evidence. The sound is more expansive, there are some nice dramatic pauses, and the guitar line seems revitalized. A pleasant replacement for the old track.

Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ “Let’s Make a Deal”

Here’s an idea that just sounds good right off the drawing board. I haven’t heard the final track yet, but apparently in preparation for their tour together, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals have remixed Dangerman’s “Let’s Make A Deal.” The Criminals themselves, famous for their self-titled song and the Pulp Fiction-sampling “Scooby Snacks,” are still trying to get attention for their current album after their funky first single, “Korean Bodega”, flopped. However, FLC recently remixed Garbage’s “You Look So Fine,” and it’s evident that their revitalizing skills are just as solid as their performing.

Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright”

Months after Stabbing Westward scored with “Haunting Me” from The Faculty, the Offspring have shipped “The Kids Aren’t Alright” to radio. Despite being badly spelled, the song features a tense and jumpy guitar riff and soaring harmonic chorus. Basically, it’s got everything that all the excellent Offspring songs that don’t make the radio have. Hopefully this is the beginning of a good trend.

Eve 6’s “Open Road Song”

Minor news item: Eve 6’s release, “Open Road Song.” Another three minute punk-pop track off of the assembly line. Another future #1 radio hit. Nothing to get excited about.

E-mail at the usual address (airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu). See you in June, and until then: Keep expanding your horizons!