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Ego, Ellis, and Econoline

By Dan Katz

Well, that was a nice relaxing break. Happy new year, I’ve missed all of you so. Did you miss me? Awww, you’re so sweet But enough pleasantries, let’s talk music.

I don’t know what it is about the beginning of a new year that makes live music run away screaming, but early January is traditionally a pretty dead concert period. This week follows that tradition pretty well, with the exception of one big on-campus shindig. The Airwaves Show of the Week has got to be Friday’s VooDoo party, featuring minimalist Christ figure Wesley Willis, local oddballs Jim’s Big Ego, plus Acid Wench, Arab On Radar, and The Children In Heat. With that impressive lineup and catering from Deli Haus (Mmmm... Deli Haus), this may be one of the best on-campus events of the year. There’s a Rustic Overtones concert at Bill’s Bar on Saturday, but other than that there’s not much going on in Boston. If you feel like going for a drive, though, Wesley Willis warms up in Worcester (try saying that three times fast) Thursday night at the Lucky Dog, and Saturday night Ellis Paul plays a show in Lexington.

I have a strict personal rule that I never buy an album on the strength of one single. Incubus’s new track, “Pardon Me,” is the first song in quite a while that’s been good enough to force me to break that rule. Currently getting a lot of well deserved airplay on Boston radio, the song shows off two skills that separate Incubus from other Ozzfest veterans: the utilization of breakbeats and scratching to give their music a more rhythmic feel, and the ability to sing high notes clearly rather than scream obnoxiously. That and some creative themes give the song, as well as the whole album, an innovative futuristic quality that leads me to highly recommend it.

I also got the chance to watch music videos for the first time in a while, and I made a couple of observations. First, if the evolution of female pop vocalists continues at its current rate, pedophiles are going to adore the year 2000. The first answer to Britney Spears was 18-year-old Christina Aguilera, and now MTV’s newest darling is “Candy” by Mandy Moore, who’s fifteen. Maybe it’s a matter of taste, but when I see a fifteen-year-old on TV being seductive, I’m more disturbed than attracted. Second, Blink-182’s video parody of the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync seems to have backfired; I actually saw Carson Daly refer to the punk rockers as a boy band, and I don’t think he was being entirely sarcastic. And finally, Muse’s “Muscle Museum,” although it’s unsurprisingly not in regular rotation, may be the most chilling video of the year, portraying a generic suburban neighborhood of identical white houses, picket fences, and stereotypical residents -- all of whom make the gradual transition from smiling and happily going about their day to crying uncontrollably. It’s a wonderful study in the monotony of life, and it fits well with the song, which has a chorus that oozes pure angst.

There’s a number of great tracks getting airplay in Canada at the moment that aren’t available here yet but a careful scouring of the Internet uncovers them without too much trouble. Econoline Crush don’t have a new album coming out any time soon, but they recorded a popular song from their live show, “You Don’t Know What It’s Like,” for release on “Big Shiny Tunes 4,” which is Canada’s equivalent of the “NOW” series: a compilation of the most overplayed singles of the year, in case you’re not sick of them all yet. Econoline make the compilation worth it though, with a pained neo-industrial tune reminiscent of their earlier song, “Wicked.” If you prefer your guitars unplugged, The Tea Party’s current single is a terrific haunting acoustic track called “The Messenger.” That song, and the slightly more pop-oriented “Heaven Coming Down,” which was a monster hit up north earlier this year, are on the band’s new album Triptych, which should hopefully hit American stores sometime this year.

Make any New Year’s resolutions this year? Mine was to write one column without ripping on the Essential Vegetarian (next week, the weaponry comes back out ) Anyway, if you want to make a resolution you can easily keep, why not resolve to e-mail Airwaves? Remember, all through IAP, I’m still accepting votes for my Reader Awards, in the categories of Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Music Video of the Year, Live Act of the Year, and Most Annoying Personality of the Year. You’re also free to make up any other categories or chat with me about pretty much anything in the domain of rock music via Until next we meet, have a happy January, and keep expanding your horizons.