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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Beck, Beth, and Bad Touch

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

It’s always annoying to make the Airwaves Show of the Week a sold out concert, so I’m going to avoid giving that title to Beck and Beth Orton, a great pairing who will play a full house tonight and tomorrow night at the Orpheum. Instead, this week’s honors go to Atom and His Package, the Casio-backed wonder from the Philadelphia area who hits Bill’s Bar on Sunday night. In addition, Wednesday sees the Sno-Core tour at the Avalon. Last year’s tour had a terrifically eclectic lineup (Everclear, Soul Coughing, Black-Eyed Peas, DJ Spooky). While this year’s bill of Incubus, System of a Down, Puya, and Mr. Bungle is impressive, it’s a neo-metal one-trick pony. Good bands, but I prefer the variety. Looking ahead a bit, Angry Salad play the Middle East and Lords of Acid hit the Roxy next Friday, and Morrissey plays the Avalon Saturday and Sunday.

The best single so far this year by far must be “The Bad Touch” by The Bloodhound Gang. Sure, it’s two decades too late, but the Gang’s usual sophomoric sexual rapping is utilized here in what may be the best new wave song ever, complete with synth horns and drums and a fabulous keyboard part. Plus as always, the band’s lyrics range from clever to tasteless, as indicated by the chorus: “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” It gets worse, but as usual, I have good taste boundaries to stay within. When the Beastie Boys run out of ideas, BHG will be their replacements.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ new video for “The Everlasting Gaze,” a song that wasn’t scheduled to be their first single but just got too much advance radio play to ignore, is currently airing on MTV and is available in its entirety on the web site. The main things to notice here are that first of all, the song’s excellent (it’s got a heavily melted distorted feel similar to “Zero,” one of the Pumpkins’ best songs ever) and secondly, ousted Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur looks like she fits in with the boys just fine. I was expecting more of a Marilyn Addams effect, but Melissa can apparently do faux goth as well as faux glam.

Apologies for a typo in last week’s installment. A few of my more attentive and communicative readers pointed out the obvious fact that there’s no band called Push It, and if there is they probably don’t have a song called “Static X.” Those should be switched, but you probably knew that anyway.

There’s a gentleman named Angie Aparo who’s starting to break onto some radio stations. I don’t know much about him, but I picked up a copy of the band’s single (although the song on the band’s web site is not the one getting airplay). “Alone” features a great blend of organic guitar sounds, sampling, regular and tribal-sounding vocals, and an awesome sense of contrast. It’s very similar to VAST’s “Touched” (which has recently been enjoying a return to popularity thanks to its appearance in commercials and trailers for The Beach).

Live. “Run To The Water.” It’s a Live song. Been there, done that. What’s their obsession with water recently?

I must say, I think I enjoyed last week’s edition of The Essential Vegetarian more than in any other issue. Keep up the good work.

Finally, I got an e-mail last week asking why I don’t cover local hip-hop artists in my column. Music ranges broadly, from classical to folk to rap to rock to polka. There’s no room to cover it all in one weekly column, so I’ve chosen to focus on a chunk of it: modern rock and “electronica” (if those in the know will excuse the poor terminology), the style of songs that get played on WBCN, WAAF, and WFNX. The reason for this is that it’s the kind of music I like most, and it’s what I’m most familiar with, which makes it easiest for me to write about and critique. I’m fully in favor of making people aware of hip hop (see my standard signoff) but I’m simply not qualified. If you want to spread the good word, The Tech can always use arts writers...

Time to go. I’ve actually been getting mail of late, and I like it! Keep it up; it gives me stuff to talk about. Send your commentary on the world of music (primarily the realm noted above) to <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu>, unless it’s a complaint, in which case send it to The Essential Vegetarian. Hasta luego and keep expanding your horizons.