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State of the Airwaves

Rock, Rammstein, and Represent

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Most of the time, my careful and diligent composition of State of the Airwaves is aided by Rehv-Yoo, Ancient Muse of Music Journalism. Unfortunately, this week, Rehv-Yoo was beaten senselessly by Sleyplehs, Evil Deity of Insomnia, and Tewlidj, Malevolent God of Homework. But just in the nick of time, the foul and offending beasts were vanquished by Ekstraowers, The Holy Spirit of Extended Deadlines. Thus, the day is saved, and you receive the (potentially abbreviated) column you sorely need to get through your week.

The week of live music starts tonight, just a few blocks up Mass. Ave., as the Donnas play a show at the Middle East. Tomorrow night, the Saw Doctors appear at the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue. Thursday night, I’m fairly sure the Matchbox Twenty/Everclear/Lifehouse show at the Centrum is sold out, but you can still see a superior group as Mercury Music Prize winners Roni Size and Reprazent represent at the Roxy. Friday, it’s metal night at the Worcester Palladium as Sepultura, Hatebreed, Puya, and Flybanger storm through, and on Saturday, the Dropkick Murphys and the Living End appear at Avalon, while a less intense Grey Eye Glances play Club Passim.

Tuesday means new music on the shelves, and the big news for the week is the American debut of Our Lady Peace’s Spiritual Machines, a slick and powerful album that was easily my favorite foreign release last year. Also out is a new disc from French dance craftsmen Daft Punk called Discovery. After being delayed a few weeks, Hesher’s self-titled debut actually surfaces today, while Clutch produce pure rock fury in the form of an album called Pure Rock Fury. Finally, a more well-known band by the name of Semisonic return with All About Chemistry, featuring a horribly mundane pop single called “Chemistry.” Ho-hum.

Just when I thought there was nothing to motivate me into writing this week, my brother clues me in that the new Stabbing Westward single is out, and suddenly I have something to listen to. The band has made a big deal about their fourth album being a rawer and more guitar-based album, shying away from the shiny semi-industrial sound of their last few records. I was a bit concerned that this would involve a drastic change of style, but “So Far Away” is very clearly the work of the same band that wrote “What Do I Have To Do” and “Sometimes It Hurts.” It is guitar-driven, but the guitar effects are plentiful and create a rich landscape of sound, balancing intensity and a feeling of floating through space as Chris Hall angstfully cries, “Every time that I touch you, you feel so far away.” I’m very glad Stabbing Westward is back, and I’m glad they’re still Stabbing Westward.

“Links 2 3 4” is the first cut from Rammstein’s upcoming Mutter, and a lot of it sounds like every other Rammstein song. (Not that you’d know, since the German pyromaniac metal band never got much airplay for anything beyond “Du Hast.”) However, there are some nice additional touches, like the eerie whispered verses, a bit of acoustic guitar, and a marching chorus I will be singing to myself all week (“Links two, links two, links two drei vier, LINKS!”)

Finally, we check in with the most added song on modern rock radio for the week, “Comin’ Thru My Stereo” by Hedrock Valley Beats. Two words leap to mind to describe this dance track: fast and repetitive. The groove is immediately infectious, but it wears off after a few minutes when the song doesn’t really go anywhere. Nonetheless, there’s been a bit of an absence of electronic music permeating rock radio recently, and it’s nice to see somebody getting play who uses samplers and isn’t named Moby.

Looks like I’m going to squeak this through to my editor in time; next week, however, I’ve got a date with crossword championship glory in Connecticut, so the column will proably be taking a hiatus. If anything catches your ear musically in the next couple of weeks, feel free to drop me a line at <>. If not, I hope you’ll come back and see me next time I’m in print; until then, keep your head above water and keep expanding your horizons.