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State of the Airwaves

Santana, Santana, (but please not) Spears

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

It’s Friday and I’m ready to dance... Tonight, Axis hosts the Airwaves Show of the Week, the Boston stop of Apollofourforty’s first U.S. tour. For those of you who tend to shy away from DJ shows because their music feels too canned, here’s a concert for you; @440 are an eight-piece dance rock band, and their set is loud, live, and in-your-face. On the other hand, if you prefer a more traditional rock sound, formula alt-rockers Lit stop by Axis Monday night with 22 Jacks. The Orpheum Theater is also packed with big names this week; Fiona Apple is in the house tonight, and on Tuesday, Smash Mouth and Luscious Jackson will be seeing if they can draw a crowd without “Naked Eye” and “All Star” currently on the radio.

I seriously dropped the ball on the Grammy thing this year. Last year I did a full-blown preview outlining my predictions and who I would have nominated; this time around, the awards ceremony is a few hours away as I write this column, and I haven’t published a thing. Doh. By the time this issue goes to press, I will most likely be depressed (the ignorance of Grammy voters usually gets me down for at least a week) but my melancholy may be quelled by plenty of wins for Santana (an artist who, unusually, both deserves awards and is favored to win them); Moby’s Play and Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, both of which found their way onto my top ten list for 1999; and Kid Rock, yet another nominee for Best New Artist who isn’t a new artist, but who broke out in a big way this year. If he loses to Britney Spears, this may be my last column, because the resulting pain and shock is likely to paralyze me from the neck down.

But who cares about the best of last year? What about the best of this year? As far as I’m concerned, the top contender is ON, the new project spearheaded by Ken Andrews, formerly of Failure. In my opinion, Failure’s 1996 release Fantastic Planet ranks among the best rock albums of the nineties. ON’s upcoming release Shifting Skin embraces the same sense of discomforting dissonance and dark melodies, but plugs in tighter production values, deeper arrangements, and guest appearances by members of Self, God Lives Underwater, and Blinker The Star.

The first formal release, “Soluble Words,” is a calmly repetitive and instantly catchy tune laid over a dynamic and powerful background, while “Your Sister Says John” is closer to Failure’s grungy sound. The album comes out in March, and at that point you’re sure to hear me raving about the whole thing.

If a song’s going to be loud, I prefer it to be fast. So while Staind and Sevendust don’t do much for me, Static-X is nicer, and Slipknot’s current single “Wait And Bleed” is an absolute joy. It’s got a front man who actually sings (okay, at least during the chorus); it always feels like it’s going somewhere, and, like Chevelle’s brilliant cut “Mia,” it’s smart enough to quit while it’s ahead -- after about two and a half minutes. It’s a nice song, but I don’t know if I would have wanted any more of it.

They Might Be Giants, who have been announced as the headline act for the Spring Weekend concert, definitely get the State of the Airwaves seal of approval.

You know what? I take back everything I’ve ever said about vegetarians! They’re wonderful people! I’ve got nothing but respect for the brave souls who manage to abstain from the tempting lure of meat, and I wish I had the fortitude to follow in their footsteps. But alas, I am but a weak slave to the fourth food group, and a poor and wretched man when compared to the Essential Vegetarian and her ilk. Herbivores, I salute you! (Explanatory note: my previously-made-famous vegetarian girlfriend is in town. I’ll be back to normal next week, I promise.)

What walks first on ten legs, then on eight legs, and then limps in a thousand directions? You’ll never know unless you e-mail me! Send your quips, comments, insults, and injuries to <> and there just might be a nickel in it for you. If you haven’t been to a concert in a while (or ever) check out one of the shows I hype in my column and let me know what you think. And if you go to a lot of concerts, let me know which ones I should be telling the campus about. Until next time (if I survive the Grammys), keep expanding your horizons.