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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Buzz, Barn, and Buckethead

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Compared to last week, the next seven days are a little slow for concerts. If you missed last week’s sold out Counting Crows show, you can miss another one tomorrow night. Tonight, those of you who can’t get enough of them Canadians can catch Beatles revivalists Sloan at the Middle East; on the other hand, if you’re already trying to recapture Halloween, GWAR will be at the Worcester Palladium with the Misfits. The best show of the week for my money is a set by the psycho Bob Dylan of the nineties, Dan Bern, at Passim’s in Harvard Square. Just missing that honor is a Wednesday show at the Avalon with genre-benders Primus, along with Incubus and one of the fast-food-container-wearing guitar greats of our time, Buckethead. Wilco also plays the Avalon Thursday.

You’ve gotta love MTV’s Buzz Bin, the alleged barometer of what’s new and cool in the music industry, which appears to function by picking names out of a hat. After being dominated by dance acts (Stardust, Fat Boy Slim, and the Lo-Fi Allstars) and then hard rock/metal bands (such as Godsmack, Kid Rock, and Jennifer Lopez), suddenly a few weeks ago the list contained no rock artists. Then Jimmy’s Chicken Shack and Bif Naked, two poppy punk outfits, appeared, disappearing almost as quickly. Now the two newest card-carrying members are Staind’s “Mudshovel” and Static-X’s “Push It,” yet more of the neo-metal currently dominating the radio. The label of “Buzzworthy” claims to be (and used to be) an indicator of what’s new and cutting-edge in music; now, unfortunately, it’s the only way to try to get people to pay attention to something other than Ricky Martin, and if it doesn’t work within three days, the network’s perfectly happy to throw on “The Cup of Life” again.

The Offspring’s “She’s Got Issues” is a half-decent song. Why isn’t it getting that much airplay? Hmmm... could it be because after releasing a trashy single as singsongy and purposeless as “Why Don’t You Get A Job?” nobody takes them seriously anymore? “The Kids Aren’t Alright” was probably one of the best Offspring songs (with the worst usage of English) in the band’s history, but most people just weren’t prepared for it after hearing about the pretty fly white guy 7000 times. Dexter Holland, you have taken your band to a new level, and a new category of music. You’d better get used to it.

I’m actually listening to the radio as I write this column (yes, research never ends for this diligent reporter) and Dope’s “Debonair” just came on. Not a fantastic song, but it’s a nice throwback to the old days when metal was dark and scary. More importantly, though, it’s got one of the hookiest openings I’ve heard in a long time, with steady drums that seem to create a big empty space, and then pure melted distortion that fills it right up. Also on the subject of catchy openings, Stereophonics’s “Pick A Part That’s New” starts off with the main riff that’s muffled and minimalized before the real thing comes in with a vengeance. It’s a trick that’s been done a thousand times before, but it just really seems to work here.

I like the Beastie Boys’ “Alive,” especially the slightly ominous sampling in the background, but frankly, all their songs are starting to sound the same to me. Seems like every Beastie Boys song I’ve HEARD! gets really loud on every line’s last WORD! Even that didn’t bother me that much, but now I’m even starting to notice entire repeated lines (compare UNKLE’s “Drums of Death Part 2” to “Intergalactic” some time.) It’s a style, it works for them, and the Beastie Boys are probably three of the hardest-working guys in the industry. I’d just hate to be them if/when the novelty runs out.

Oh, and a quick pat on the back to Chevelle for managing to find success. They’re a great hardcore rock band that have managed to get an indie label single on the radio all over the country, along with snagging a coveted opening slot for Sevendust’s tour. Now, if only their videos didn’t look like they were stolen from Tool’s archives,

Hey, if you’re reading this early on Friday afternoon, go sit in Lobby 7 and make a stand against one of the worst decisions since Abraham Lincoln decided to go to the theater. If it’s not, e-mail airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu and tell me how much you like my stupid analogies or explain to me slowly and carefully why “Why Don’t You Get A Job?” is the best song on earth and I’m a moron. Hey, if you don’t correct me, how can I learn? Until next we converse, have a good week and keep expanding your horizons.