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MUSIC REVIEW

State Of The Airwaves

Preachers, the Paradise, and overplayed pop stars

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Welcome to the beginning of October and a lecture on which concerts you should check out this month. Vertical Horizon and the Angry Salad hit the Paradise on the 16th, and Fuel shows up at the Avalon with Stroke 9 and Bif Naked on the 29th. As far as Mix 98.5’s gigantic concert Mixfest, go to the show but don’t buy a ticket under any circumstances. The ticketed second day is nothing but overplayed pop stars, while the free Saturday half (October 9 at City Hall Plaza) features Ben Folds Five, Duran Duran, Thisway, Train, and the sadly unappreciated Fleming and John. It’s more than worth the cost.

Speaking of Stroke 9, their “Little Black Backpack” song is a hit with an identity crisis; it dodges between an expansive sad ballad and a peppy little guitar song, both of which are very well done, but do they go together? All doubts are shattered by the terrific tongue twister of a line that closes the chorus: “Just don’t expect to get your bloody black backpack back.” Listen to that bit and tell me it’s not catchy.

Are Manic Street Preachers the best band in the world, as a British music magazine declared they were earlier this year? The mediocrity of their most recent single, “If You Can Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next,” led me to answer with a resounding no, but their new effort, “You Stole The Sun From My Heart,” makes me rethink my opinion. It’s a solid Brit-rock song, featuring a great mechanical drumline and vocals so high and clear they’d make Placido Domingo feel slightly inadequate. The Preachers played the Paradise a few weeks ago. In Europe they play stadiums. Someone somewhere must be missing something.

And the winner of State of the Airwaves’ Confusing Dance Music Video About Latin American War Casualties And Flashy Soda Machines Of The Week: (drumroll) “Out of Control,” by the Chemical Brothers. (I’ll be really impressed if I ever find another video to give that award to.)

No, the Wiseguys’ “Ooh La La” hasn’t faded away. Yes, it’s still in my head, and yes, I still want it out. Argh. Go ’way.

And finally, can I just say this Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines thing is one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever heard of? Brooks wants to release a rock album (probably because country music doesn’t get you chicks) and so he films a TV special in which he’s possessed by fictional rock star Chris Gaines. I say if you want to try out a new genre, go ahead, but rock music fans are likely to take you more seriously if your CD doesn’t come with its own science fiction story.

You know what? When you write to the President, he doesn’t really read your letters. When you write to Airwaves, you get results. Reach me at <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu> and speak your mind about music, local and national. Until next week, keep expanding your horizons.