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State of the Airwaves

Bowie, Barcelona, and a Bit on an Error

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but when I think “coffeehouse,” I think cutting-edge performances. That’s why I vastly approve of the two nights of music that popped up on this week’s schedule at the 24-Hour Coffeehouse. (It’s located at the third floor of the student center for any freshmen who haven’t gotten around to climbing two flights of stairs.) The first came Saturday night, as WMBR program director Marianna Parker unveiled the first in a series of indie-pop concerts, starting with Barcelona and Science Park. Science Park’s set was a little bit lifeless, and their most interesting sounds were prerecorded into a keyboard; the headliners, on the other hand, were very alive and armed with a repertoire of catchy, well-arranged tunes, ranging from “Why Do You Have So Much Fun Without Me?” to the more MIT-friendly “I Have The Password To Your Shell Account.” Thursday’s event, sponsored by the Songwriters’ Club had yet to occur as this column went to press, but marked the start of a monthly open mike night which should showcase some unrecognized talent in the MIT community. Major kudos to everyone behind both events, and here’s to filling the coffeehouse with innovative music.

In the vein of conventional concerts, Vertical Horizon and local stars the Angry Salad will be at the Paradise Rock Club tomorrow night, playing songs off what may be the two most infectious albums of the year. For rock fans who prefer a more historic experience, the Black Crowes enlist the services of Jimmy Page the same night at the Centrum in Worcester. Minimalist mumbler Wesley Willis will be at the Middle East Monday night doing his impression of a broken record, followed by Superdrag, the authors of some of the best and worst songs I know, on Wednesday.

Hey, in all the hubbub about rap-rock hybrids like Korn and Limp Bizkit, we all forgot about Rage Against The Machine -- Zack and his mega-liberal sonic task force are back with “Guerilla Radio,” a typically funky, typically revolutionary single that, if nothing else, shows that the band’s drummer may actually be able to play more than a steady rock beat. The most intriguing aspect of the song is the upcoming video, which is reportedly a parody of the Gap commercials that attacks the garment industry. As much as I enjoy Gap ads (anything that gets a Depeche Mode song on in prime time is okay by me), this treatment sounds like it’ll be delicious. Also, those of you who frequent Tower Records on Newbury Street may have noticed cryptic signs promising Tower’s most out-RAGE-ous in-store appearance yet. Hmmm ...

Two out of three isn’t bad, is it? I predicted correctly that Our Lady Peace’s new CD would debut #1 in Canada, and Nine Inch Nails at #1 in the US. However, I also said Creed probably wouldn’t make much of a dent in the charts. Well, it turns out that Human Clay (Creed’s second album, which was released a week later than originally scheduled) has been the top album in the country for two weeks running. My thoughts on this relatively faceless band that has somehow conquered the nation? I still feel that every Creed album is pretty much a regurgitation of the same song nine or ten times. However, that song is really good, and apparently America agrees.

It sounds like a glam-rock lover’s impossible dream, but David Bowie and Velvet Goldmine veterans Placebo have released a limited edition single of Placebo’s “Without You I’m Nothing.” No B-sides on this one, only remixes, but all three are excellent, including a mix by U.N.K.L.E., the team of DJ Shadow and James Lavelle which has been mum since their groundbreaking album, Psyence Fiction. This one may be tough to find, but it’s worth the search.

I’m still disappointed I didn’t get any recipes last week, but I’m sure I’ll be in a much more jolly mood when you send your insights, insults, and opinions to <>. Seen any good concerts lately? Heard any terrible music the public should be warned about? You tell me, and I’ll tell MIT. Until next week, keep expanding your horizons.