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State of the Airwaves

Reznor, revolution, and really cute objects

By Daniel J. Katz

Staff Writer

Since I’m the rock music editorial guy, I suppose it’s my duty to address the Woodstock incident (a minor problem according to the organizers, an apocalyptic disaster according to anyone else who was there). I have to join the prevailing attitude that “the man” brought the carnage on himself. The combination of forbidding outside food and drink and selling mediocre sandwiches for ten dollars and water for four dollars is enough to make anyone restless, let alone liberal teenagers and young adults who came to see Rage Against The Machine burning an American flag and Limp Bizkit encouraging the destruction of a security tower. It’s not the music that’s to blame; it’s the bad planning that kept people from enjoying the music.

In other news, the MTV Video Music Award nominations have been announced. Korn’s clever and innovative “Freak On A Leash” leads the nominations, but sadly, Todd McFarlane’s far more brilliant creation, Pearl Jam’s “Do The Evolution,” was completely ignored. Like many other awards shows, the best strategy to be nominated for these awards is to take advantage of the judges’ short-term memory and release a video within a few months of the nominations. In pleasant surprises, ingenious cuts by Eels and UNKLE showed up in the Breakthrough category. I’d like to see a Cutest Character in a Video battle between the little robot carton from Eels’ “Last Stop This Town” and the excitable milk carton in Blur’s “Coffee And TV.”

So I’ve heard the new Nine Inch Nails single several times... and once I even stayed awake through it. “The Day The World Went Away” is a plodding percussionless monster that shifts between heavy guitar noise and calm emptiness. It’s well-written and simultaneously eerie and calming, but its sluggishly nihilistic atmosphere just seems out of place on modern rock radio. Is it any wonder that the B-side, “Starfuckers, Inc.,” is actually being added to more radio stations than the single? A throwback to songs like “Wish” and “The Perfect Drug,” “Starfuckers” is a vicious blend of breakneck drumming and melting distortion that acts as a far better showcase for Reznor’s genius than its counterpart, yet another recycling of “Hurt.”

Elsewhere in the industrial world, Filter has returned with a vengeance with “Welcome To The Fold,” a dark and weighty anthem of “celebrating nothing” and feeling “A-OKAAAAAY!!!”. The band’s metal attack is just as brutal as it was prior to their four-year absence, and with guitar lines as gripping as the riff from this single, Filter could be destined to steal the show on this year’s Family Values Tour.

And speaking of Family Values performers, the Insane Clown Posse have achieved the improbable, breaking onto rock radio with a novelty single, “Another Love Song.” The lyrics are funny if crude (it’s the classic story of girl treats boy badly, boy sticks around so he can sleep with girl) and the chorus actually has a melody -- and a catchy one at that! In the shock-rap war against Eminem, ICP are finally lightening up, which is a step in the right direction.

Welcome back, Verve Pipe! After a monster hit in “The Freshmen” and the unjustly neglected “Villains,” The Verve Pipe’s new album brings a hooky tune called “Hero” that features bluesy guitar bends and a bright solid chorus. It’s not an instant grabber like “Freshmen,” but it’s an extremely strong single for, in my opinion, a critically underrated band.

And finally, keep an eye on Vertical Horizon. “We Are” is accessible enough to have a chance at becoming a hit, and the band reportedly has an excellent live show. If radio is kind to them, this group may have a shot at stardom.

That’s it for now. Send comments to, and keep expanding your horizons.