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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Seventeen, Salad, and Supernova

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

It’s another Friday and there’s a lot going on up the street over the next seven days: the Middle East is seriously jumping this week. It kicks off tonight with the New England Music Showcase, with four five-band shows over the course of two nights, including the Airwaves Shows of the Week: on Friday Orbit appears with the Shods, and on Saturday you can see Angry Salad, Ball In The House, and Seventeen. There’s more later in the week as Buffalo Tom play downstairs on Sunday, and on Wednesday, Mixmaster Mike, Rahzel, and Choclair explore the future of hip-hop downstairs, while the world’s most frightening rock band, Arab On Radar, invade the upstairs stage. The music scene spreads out on Tuesday night, when the Flaming Lips play the Roxy, Tracy Bonham previews her new album at Axis, and Filter hit the Worcester Palladium with Apollo 440 mysteriously replaced by Veruca Salt as their opening act.

Before I say anything else, Frankie Machine is a great name for a band. And their new single, “Sell Me,” presents itself really well, with a catchy, thundering, pop-punk verse and chorus. Unfortunately, it overstays its welcome; the verses are short enough that every time the chorus comes back it sounds like it just left, making the song extremely repetitive. It’s fun to listen to, but it’d be more fun to listen to less of it.

Let it go on record that Huey Lewis is not a fan of serial killers. Apparently after seeing the upcoming film American Psycho, he asked that his song “Hip To Be Square” (which, as I mentioned last week, appeared alongside classics from New Order and Tom Tom Club and recent songs by the Cure and David Bowie) be removed from the soundtrack. It’s a shame, really; it was a neat effect to have an album including a lot of dark music and finish up unexpectedly with Huey Lewis & the News. It’s also a shame that American Psycho is a more mature and insightful take on murder than the endless torrent of Scream clones pouring into the market, and that Lewis can’t figure that out.

With “Supernova Goes Pop,” Powerman 5000 continue to imitate what Rob Zombie might sound like if he had the ability to write a good song other than “Living Dead Girl.” Rob, he’s your brother. Take some notes.

“Broadway,” just released to radio, is a cut off the Goo Goo Dolls’ two-year-old Dizzy Up The Girl. I assume this must be on a movie soundtrack or something to be hitting the radio now, but it adds nothing to the band’s legacy. While “Iris” and “Black Balloon” had a sweeping epic quality, and “Dizzy” showed off the band’s rock edge, “Broadway” is a frighteningly dull generic ballad, and should serve as a reminder that the Goo Goo Dolls need to go and write some new material, stat. At the same time Nine Days’ “Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)” is almost as derivative, but for some reason it has a likeability to it. Perhaps it’s that the lead singer doesn’t sound quite as overdramatic as Johnny Reznick. Or maybe we just haven’t had time to dislike Nine Days yet. Ask me again in a month.

While some bands never change, there’s a lot of returning and reinventing going on right now. Elastica played their first concert in five years this week, now operating with a six-piece band despite losing their guitarist a few years ago. I gave their self-titled album a nostalgia spin recently and I’m anxiously awaiting their next offering. (And I hope they make lots of music videos featuring lots of Justine Frischmann. Rowr.) Also Matchbox Twenty have a new album forthcoming along with a new name (note the spelled out number). The name-change appears to be symbolic of an attempt to be taken more seriously; after Rob Thomas’s songwriting and performing Grammies for “Smooth,” I might be inclined to give them a chance.

And that’s a wrap for this week (by that I mean the end of the column, not one of those horrible trendy things they sell at LaVerde’s instead of sandwiches). If you want to clue me in on the concert scene, plug your favorite band, unplug a band you hate, or tell me how awful my puns are, give me a buzz at <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu>. Hope to hear from you ... otherwise, have a great week, and keep expanding your horizons.