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State of the Airwaves

Carlos, Chemicals, and concerts for collegiates

By Daniel J. Katz

Staff Writer

Remember music’s last Super Tuesday? There was a Tuesday last year that featured new releases by Mariah Carey, Jewel, Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, The Offspring, and other major artists, making for one of the highest-grossing days of music sales in history. Well, the alternative music neglected in the event has quietly assembled its own Super Tuesday ... three days ago, music fans received highly anticipated releases by Nine Inch Nails, Tori Amos, Creed, Chris Cornell, and Stereolab, among others. Even other countries got into the act, as the new album from north-of-the-border megastars Our Lady Peace hit Canadian stores. Nine Inch Nails and Our Lady Peace can be expected to reign as number one this week in their respective countries, and Tori Amos may crack the top 10, but don’t look for Creed or Cornell (much less French art-poppers Stereolab) to make a huge dent on the Billboards. Nine Inch Nails did premiere a video on MTV earlier this week for “We’re In This Together,” which introduces the terrifying concept of seeing Carson Daly and Trent Reznor regularly on the same TV show.

Latest sign of the apocalypse: a decent single by Bush. For a while, I thought “Greedy Fly” was as good as they get... in reality, it’s almost as good as they get. “The Chemicals Between Us” has a sleek industrial sound going for it (perhaps influenced by the band’s Deconstruction remix album), and a catchy tune, but at its heart nothing’s really that new -- most Bush songs sound like overblown British retreads of Nirvana songs. This one sounds like Gravity Kills helping out on an overblown British retread of a Nirvana song. (I haven’t decided which one... but does it really matter?)

Lots of discounted concerts for college students to consider this weekend. The Hynes Convention center hosts WFNX-sponsored College Fest at the Hynes Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday featuring, among others, hardcore punksters Face To Face, funk-rock-rappers Shootyz Groove, local favorites Gravel Pit, and New England indie-poppers The Angry Salad. (Have I ever mentioned I love “The Milkshake Song”? It makes me feel all warm and squishy inside.) The event’s more of a convention than a concert, although according to the ad in The Tech, it offers “great hookup potential.” Take care of that on Saturday, and on Sunday, drop by the BankBoston Pavilion, for WBCN’s grossly inaccurately named College Rave. A multifaceted lineup of Ben Folds Five, G. Love, and Buckcherry almost makes up for headliners 311. Like I said last week, leave early.

What’s the current Family Values lineup up to? Limp Bizkit’s “Rearranged” has the same old muddy rap-metal futility. Thumbs down. Filter? “Take A Picture” is a surprisingly restrained and ballad-like song from the screaming industrialists. Thumbs up. It’s a shame Limp Bizkit are so buddy-buddy with tour organizers Korn -- a huge improvement could be made to the bill by replacing them with sharper, neo-metal band Static-X, whose newest effort, “Push It,” rolls in at high speed, and rolls out again without ever letting up. News flash: you can be hardcore without incorporating that ever so necessary hip-hop edge. (I’d better go brace myself for backlash from the Limp Bizkit fans.)

All hail the psychic power of Carlos Santana. Working with creative visionaries like Lauryn Hill and Dave Matthews is a no-brainer, but I’ll bet a lot of older folks at Arista gave Carlos a funny look when he suggested borrowing the vocal talents of Everlast and Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas on his latest album. Who knew that “Put Your Lights On” would finally provide the skilled guitar playing that complements Everlast’s dirty soul mentality? And who knew “Smooth” would strip away Thomas’s cutesy-pop image and reveal that, deep down, the guy has a quality voice? Usually, the collaboration between contemporary artist and legend is a comical failure (think Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page) but Santana beats the odds on these latest singles.

And finally, I head into musical activist mode for a moment. I caught Orbit in concert last Friday, and although it was a fabulous show, it was a little depressing. Here’s a Boston band that pulled off some national airplay with “Medicine” and “Bicycle Song,” started to develop a promising career, got screwed over by their record label while trying to release a follow-up, and are now relegated to a 12pm slot on the Middle East’s claustrophobic upstairs stage. Support a good cause and entertain yourself at the same time; pick up Orbit’s first album, Libido Speedway, watch for local shows, and help this band get back into the public eye where they belong.

You may have noticed I’m trying to morph Airwaves into a more universal rock music column, covering live and local stuff as well as national MTV/radio airplay. Like it? Hate it? Talk to me. Throw a bone to <>. That said, ’til next week, keep expanding your horizons.