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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Metallica, Matchbox, and Mustard Plug

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

The indefinite shutdown of the Paradise Rock Club may be the best thing that’s ever happened to the Karma Lounge: there’s a whole bunch of shows there this week, many of which were moved over from the now-closed den of underage overcrowded iniquity. Friday, the Nields, who will be playing MIT in a couple of weeks, appear with the Kennedys, while the next night, Boston Music Award winners The Sheila Divine are on the bill. Tuesday it’s a ska triple-header with Mustard Plug, Edna’s Goldfish, and Catch 22, and Thursday there’s less shouting and more chills with Dido.

The big show on campus this week is, of course, They Might Be Giants and Reel Big Fish, appearing tonight at Johnson Athletic Center (as opposed to Harvard’s spring concert Sunday night, which naturally consists of guys in suits: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy). Sunday night at the Middle East features indie darlings The Apples In Stereo, folky and light in stark contrast to Thursday’s headliners, punksters U.S. Bombs. Last, but in no way least, it’s the Airwaves Show Of The Week: Nine Inch Nails, who stop off at the Worcester Centrum Tuesday night with the mediocre Tool side project, A Perfect Circle.

But now I must bring your attention to what, in my humble critical opinion, may be one of the best singles ever. While the breakup of Soul Coughing was tragic, it has left front man M. Doughty the option to explore other venues, including lending vocals to house DJ BT’s newest cut, “Never Gonna Come Back Down.” The result is a mindblowing sonic assault of fast-paced, clanky beats and surf guitar licks that falls somewhere between U2’s “Discotheque” and Fat Boy Slim’s “The Rockefeller Skank,” but with so-psychotic-they’re-brilliant improvised lines by Doughty. It’s got countless levels to it, and everything is mixed expertly and flawlessly. This is by far the best single to hit radio this year, and one of the most well-laid-out songs I’ve ever heard. Keep an ear open.

Napster and Metallica. Where do I start? If you don’t know the deal is here, Metallica recently filed a lawsuit against Napster and a number of colleges where Napster is frequently used because they don’t want their songs being exchanged for free. I grant that this is a legitimate concern, but the way the band is going about it makes them look ignorant and impulsive. First of all, they attempted to sue colleges for not limiting the rights of their students to use legal software. (Since then, most of the colleges have been dropped from the suit, some after agreeing to ban Napster. Ugh.) Secondly, they’re attempting to sue Napster for providing servers where people can send each other files that just happen to be Metallica songs. There are a lot of MP3’s in existence that are illegal, but that’s not Napster’s fault. Metallica might as well just sue whoever invented FTP as well. If you really feel sorry for the band, I direct you to <http://www.paylars.com>.

Complain one week, you get news the next. I just received an official announcement that the first radio single from the ON album will be “Slingshot,” a bouncy little number which hits the airwaves next week, and that the album will finally be released in June. Let’s hope Epic puts some support behind it this time. (Obsessed? Me? Naaah ... )

And props to Matchbox Twenty! I mentioned a few issues ago that the band was attempting a more mature feel with their new album, and they definitely succeeded with the first single, “Bent.” It’s got a refreshingly ominous tone, a nice layering of different tones, and a chorus that’s catchy without being insipid. If they can consistently put out songs like this, I don’t care how they spell out their name, I’ll be a fan.

I sure have been feeling lucky recently. Wouldn’t it be interesting if I happened to win the lottery, and at that moment I was reading an e-mail from a loyal Airwaves reader, and I generously decided to share my millions of dollars with that lucky correspondent? Okay, it’s not a very likely scenario, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t complain/kvell about the world of modern rock via <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu>. ’Til next come see week when we bring Tartuffe you another subliminal message free column, keep expanding your horizons.