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State of the Airwaves

Canine, Clutch, and Confusion

By Dan Katz

Staff writer

You can all stop asking me ... I didn’t actually write the Airwaves parody in the most recent issue Voo Doo. I wish I had though, because it was really well written (and it had enough actual references to topics that appear often in my columns that it was clearly well researched, which I appreciate.) One might think that a vigorous public mocking would discourage me from my weekly roundup of concerts, album releases, and opinions. And one would be absolutely wrong, as you’re about to see ....

The Electric Mile is the new album from Philadelphia’s G. Love & Special Sauce, and their support tour arrives at Avalon tonight. Also in town are former Soul Coughing front man, M. Doughty, doing his acoustic guitar thing at Lilli’s in Somerville, and Folk Implosion (“Natural One”) at the Middle East. In addition, Shaggy (who’ll spend the summer touring arenas with the Backstreet Boys) plays a slightly smaller venue at Wellesley.

Things get pretty slow after tonight until Friday and Spring Weekend rolls around. Of course, everybody knows that the Roots and Blues Traveler will be on campus for a big concert Friday night. It’s less common knowledge that Blues Traveler has another show the next day: a freebie at the Hatch Shell with Cowboy Junkies. Canine is at the Middle East Friday, and if you don’t mind a bit of a trip, you can catch Sister Hazel at Nevins Hall in Framingham or Clutch and Tree at the Palladium in Worcester. Saturday night, Guster has a homecoming at Tufts and Radiohead wannabes Ours play TT The Bear’s. Finally, Badly Drawn Boy, always a compelling live performer, headlines Avalon on Monday.

In addition to the G. Love album I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, Wide Awake Bored by Treble Charger (one of those “big in Canada” bands I never shut up about) finally arrives in the States this week, as does the Manic Street Preachers’ Know Your Enemy. Those who prefer a heavier sound may flock to Fear Factory’s new disc, Digimortal, while if yo want to tone things down, Vic Chesnutt’s Left To His Own Devices may be worth a look.

My latest musical passion is Idlewild, a Scottish band that’ll be opening Placebo’s American tour, and who are something of a cross between Placebo, the Psychedelic Furs, and REM. Their current single, “Little Discourage,” builds off a peppy little guitar riff into a raging cry of distortion, but the band also thrives in rhythmically based tracks (like “Meet Me At The Harbour,” off the band’s last album) and ballads (such as “Bronze Medal,” from their current release, 100 Broken Windows). Idlewild’s music dabbles in the Furs’ realm of songwriting, but like Muse or Placebo, they aren’t afraid to utilize dark, grungy sounds in their catchy tunes. I give them a very high recommendation.

Liars Inc., a punk-pop band scheduled to join this year’s Warped Tour, is trying to go the route of many other mainstream bands by covering a popular song and getting airplay by way of novelty. Their chosen track is Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” and they do a decent job punking it up, but the flat nature of the song hinders their progress. More successful in the vein of covering old favorites are fellow Warped Tourers Alien Ant Farm, whose cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” is refreshing and well-arranged. A better punk-pop effort comes from Lucky Boys Confusion, whose “Fred Astaire” suffers slightly from substandard vocals but shines through good melodies and an evolving song structure.

I’m done for this week. Before I utter my only catch phrase, I’ll shell out my usual reminder to write me with your opinions, thoughts, and arguments about the world of modern rock. I am reachable via <>, or just look for somebody walking down Memorial Drive with a Discman singing at the top of his lungs. Until next week, keep expanding your horizons.