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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Halloween, Hole, and Horrible Jokes

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

When you mention electronica, instantly people begin spouting out names like Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method, now maybe even Basement Jaxx. But frankly I’ve never been able to figure out why Apollo 440 haven’t become a musical household name. For a while I didn’t think anything could hope to match the band’s breakthrough single, “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Dub,” a breakbeat reworking of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love.” Then along comes the high energy of “Stop The Rock,” which is currently blazing up WFNX’s top ten and getting added to radio stations across the country. Of the DJ acts making music today, Apollo 440 tend to be the most rock-oriented, and “Stop The Rock” is the kind of song that, like Fat Boy Slim’s “Praise You,” could seriously jumpstart a career.

Halloween offers quite a few concerts of varying relevance to the holiday, ranging from the dark music of the Damned at the Paradise Rock Club to the oddball stylings of Jim’s Big Ego at Passim’s (with Counting Crows at the Orpheum and Warren Zevon at Somerville Theater somewhere in between.) The most promising show of the weekend, however, occurs tomorrow night, as hometown favorites Guster bring newfound national success (but no drumsticks) to the Orpheum, accompanied by newcomers Jump Little Children. Wednesday night, anybody who actually knows the words to punk songs can show up at the Middle East to croon with members of NOFX and Bad Religion under the moniker Punk Rock Karaoke. Other shows throughout the week read like a modern rock radio playlist, including Matthew Sweet, Marcy Playground, Iggy Pop, Type O Negative, MxPx, Blinker the Star, Fuel, and Save Ferris.

In an odd turn of events, 120 Minutes premiered the new Tonic video Sunday night -- for “You Wanted More.” Yes, Tonic’s upcoming album, Sugar, is being promoted on MTV as a “new” video that was in heavy rotation all summer, but now without the clips from American Pie that actually made it entertaining. It’s a shame too, because the band’s current radio single, “Knock Down Walls,” continues their move back from Top 40 into rock and serves as another step to erase the embarrassment of releasing the amazingly boring “Soldier’s Daughter” as a single.

Bush’s new album debuted in stores Tuesday. I haven’t heard the music yet, but some of the song titles (“Jesus Online,” “40 Miles From The Sun,” “The Disease of the Dancing Cats”) are actually edgier and more creative than the entire lyrical content of the band’s first three albums put together. Propelled by a number one radio single, the band’s got a shot at debuting on top of the album charts, but they’ll have to compete with two other rock albums: Creed’s continually strong Human Clay, and the current leader, Santana’s Supernatural, the band’s first number album in 28 years. (Moral of the story: If at first you don’t succeed, get the guy from Matchbox 20.)

Tommy Lee’s got a new band called Methods of Mayhem and a new single called “Get Naked.” Guess he ... No, actually none of the fifteen wisecracks I can think of are really worth it. Come up with your own (for inspiration, wander around the Web for an hour or so).

And finally, after a long series of rumors and controversies, bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur has departed from the ranks of Hole. The bad news is that the band has lost a great bass player, a wonderful vocalist, and someone much less grungy than Courtney Love. The good news is that now there is no longer any reason to listen to the band ever again. Auf Der Maur is rumored to be replacing D’Arcy, the departed bassist from the Smashing Pumpkins, which may ruin the Pumpkins’ current ingenious plan to make each of their albums less successful than its predecessor.

And now it’s that time again ... E-mail State of the Airwaves! Talk about your favorite bands, why radio irritates you, or why you want me to declare gray-box-to-gray-box war on The Essential Vegetarian. I make my home at <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu,> and I will put aside my massive stack of problem sets to read each and every one of your letters. Until next week, happy Pumpkin Day and keep expanding your horizons.