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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Conspiracy, Collapsis, and Kryptonite

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Mmmm ... controversy. If you happen to have an FNX Card, you were abruptly alerted last week about the Airwaves Show of the Week: an extension of the Scaled Tour with Our Lady Peace at TT The Bear’s. Being a huge OLP fan, I was pretty confused that I hadn’t heard about the show, and even more confused that the e-mail claimed it was sold out (unless you had an FNX card, of course ... ) In the WFNX-owned Phoenix as well, an advertisement declared it both a “New Show!” AND “Sold out!” So, skeptic that I am, I checked Ticketmaster ... and discovered there were still tickets available. Apparently, the radio station was planning to purchase all the tickets to give away free, and they just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Now, if you read my column regularly, you know how I feel about seizing tickets away from desperate fans for random giveaways that don’t generate much new business anyway. And if you don’t, you can figure it out from that last sentence. By the way, one way or another, the concert is now sold out.

Man, I’m so grumpy, I devoted that whole paragraph to one concert. Heaven forbid I ignore the other shows at TT The Bears this week: a two-night stand by local heroes The Gravel Pit tonight and tomorrow, and an appearance by up-and-coming radio stars Collapsis on Thursday. I certainly wouldn’t want to ignore Axis tonight, where the Long Beach Dub All Stars continue to attempt to channel the spirit of Sublime. Philadelphia’s Grey Eye Glances pop up at Passim’s tomorrow night while soundtrack addicts Neve try to expand their fan base with a FREE show at the Hard Rock Cafe, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd hits the Avalon Thursday night.

“Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down starts like a lot of mainstream rock songs, with a ringing, slightly foreboding repeated series of single guitar notes. Then a uniquely peppy drum line comes in to separate this song from its competitors; it’s got a great beat to it, and a catchy, powerful chorus with cute lyrics (“If I go crazy, will you still be my Superman?”) that are just different enough from the title to confuse radio listeners, who will probably spend the next two months asking DJs to play “that Superman song.”

And speaking of surprisingly catchy drum lines, what’s the deal with Rage Against The Machine’s “Sleep Now In The Fire?” I’m used to their music being vicious free-time assaults, but this one’s actually driven by the rhythm section, an improvement that was hinted at in “Guerilla Radio.” Rage Against The Machine is a band I’ve always felt are good, but could be better. They’re proving me right.

And one more song that starts out sounding generic but takes an interesting swerve: Owsley’s “I’m Alright,” a formulaic power-pop tune that explodes into a burst of harmony and distortion (not a surprise) with an interesting minor-chord progression, producing a sound that’s pleasant without sounding sugary. Owsley himself is a guitarist who worked on his own for years before releasing his new album, which has a lot of other winners on it, including “Coming Up Roses” and “Oh No, The Radio,” which should perhaps be the new title of this column.

Looking over my last few installments of Airwaves, I’ve noticed an extremely disturbing trend: optimism. What happened? I used to be a cynical bastard; recently, I’ve been giving props to almost every song that I mention. I think it may be because I specifically write about the songs I want to write about, and I don’t get to listen to the radio nowadays to figure out what’s truly annoying. We’re almost 25 percent through the year, so there’s got to be some horrible music out there that I’ve missed. That’s where you come in. I’m looking for the worst rock single so far this year. Send me your suggestions, and the winner will get a snappy State of the Airwaves T-shirt ... or at least they would, if such a thing existed, which it doesn’t. You’re welcome to make your own though.

So now’s the time where I bug you to write in ... but I just did, so I’m taking off early for the weekend. Drop me a line at airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu and keep expanding your horizons.