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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Culture, Crowns, and Christopher

By Dan Katz

staff writer

Murphy’s Seventh Law of Music Journalism states that if you don’t write a column for three weeks (that’s one week I went on hiatus and one week of spring break), and you have to cover all of the albums that have come out while you’ve been gone, then LOTS of albums will have come out while you were gone. In fact, there’s enough of them that they’ll probably suck up the lion’s share of this week’s column. Of course, I’ll hit the upcoming concerts beforehand, and if there’s space left at the end, I’ll gush about the latest offerings in the music realm.

If you feel a void in the live-music landscape, it may be that Moxy Fruvous isn’t touring, which is extremely unusual for the concert-heavy band. You can fill the void at TT The Bear’s tomorrow night -- the closest thing the band has to a front man, Jian Ghomeshi, is appearing with two other singer-songwriters on a bill called “3 Song Circus.”

Thursday night, Cowboy Mouth (“Jenny Says”) and Southern Culture On The Skids (“Camel Walk”) mosey on down to the Avalon to blur the line between a hoedown and rock show. Friday, the Amazing Crowns appear at Lilli’s, while the O.C. Supertones spread the word of the lord at the Palladium in Worcester. On Monday, Frank Black and the Catholics roll into the Paradise Rock Club on Commonwealth Avenue.

While I was in Connecticut two weeks ago, the music industry was not on vacation. Rock favorites Toadies, who crafted the wonderful “I Come From The Water,” but poisoned alternative airwaves with the overplayed “Possum Kingdom,” returned to the public eye with an album called Hell Below, Stars Above. Powderfinger, who are enjoying radio success with “My Happiness,” gave their fans a chance to buy the song on Odyssey #5. Sepultura’s new disc is entitled Nation, while the Old 97s appeal to a less hardcore audience with Satellite Rides. Rounding out the lineup are punk-pop stars U.S. Bombs and their latest, Back At the Laundromat.

Then, over spring break, the heavy-hitters came out. Buckcherry, whose major hit is a tribute to cocaine, actually claim that they held back on their first album, and they try to make up for it on Time Bomb. Train’s second disc, Drops Of Jupiter, is warranting plenty of airplay for the gorgeous title track, while the Living End are doing well with the title-cut to Roll On as well. Monster Magnet, who raided MTV a while back with the video for “Space Lord,” present a new album called God Says No, but the network has moved on to their current darlings Saliva, who’ll support their debut, Every Six Seconds, on the MTV Campus Invasion Tour. For lighter tastes, there’s Shawn Colvin’s Brand New You, and for the collector, the second batch of Pearl Jam’s domestic bootlegs hit stores last week.

Which brings us to this week. Indie-rock gods Guided By Voices release Isolation Drills, while the only Canadians to strike it rich by saying “Mmmm,” Crash Test Dummies, offer I Don’t Care That You Don’t Mind.

Finally, there’s a compilation of performances from California radio station KCRW’s influential “Morning Becomes Eclectic” program. That disc features live cuts from Travis, David Gray, and the Dandy Warhols, along with plenty of artists I haven’t heard but probably should. Lars Fredriksen & The Bastards offer a self-titled debut, and critical darlings Black Box Recorder unveil The Facts Of Life today. Finally, there’s a greatest hits album from Modern English. That’s right, Modern English. It contains “I Melt With You” ... and ... um ....

As I expected, there’s not much room left, but I’ll try to cram in a word about the best music video I’ve seen in a long time. Spike Jonze’s last two works of cinematic brilliance were the video for Fat Boy Slim’s “Praise You,” which derived comedy from people dancing badly in public, and Being John Malkovich, which was quirky and unnerving. For Fat Boy Slim’s new single, “Weapon Of Choice,” Jonze, in a master stroke, combined those two worlds, by having one quirky and unnerving man dance in a hotel. Not just any quirky and unnerving man, but Christopher Walken. A description can’t do this clip justice; look for it on the Internet, sit in front of MTV2 for a while -- whatever it takes -- see this video. It currently edges out Dave Matthews Band’s “I Did It” as best of the year. (More on that one some other time.)

OK, e-mail me feedback at <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu>. Keep it real, keep in touch, and, you guessed it, keep expanding your horizons.