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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Steer Roast, The Sky, and The Sea

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Bono was right: it is a beautiful day. Granted he wasn’t in the middle of Cambridge during spring, but he might as well have been. The sun’s shining, birds are singing, and music’s playing in the courtyard ... it’s almost enough to make me forget that the House of Representatives thinks fetuses are people now. But now I unveil to you a column that, as usual, has little to do with abortion or climate.

Not much in the way of album releases this week, but lots and lots of concerts will be going on, including some MIT-related bands and, of course, Steer Roast. The week kicks off tonight with Our Lady Peace and Boston’s own American Hi-Fi rolling into Avalon, (hed)PE with Nonpoint at Axis, and Guided By Voices, who are known for their intense marathon sets, at the Paradise. Kip Winger’s at the Paradise Wednesday, and Godsmack take a break from touring arenas to do a more intimate homecoming show at Avalon. You’ve got to win tickets though, and if you can’t get in, Nullset’s playing next door at Bill’s.

Friday, AC/DC bring their guitars, their wrinkles, and Buckcherry to the Fleet Center. Cibo Matto do the Somerville Theater, and the Worcester Palladium’s got a bill of metal bands, including Opeth. Saturday night, it’s lowercase letters night in Massachusetts: Canadian heavies finger eleven hit Axis with Boy Hits Car; blink-182 and Sum-41 are at the Palladium. Meanwhile indie rockers The Promise Ring are at the Middle East and Ocean Colour Scene (along with Ours) play the Paradise. Finally, there’s a show at the VFW near Central Square featuring El Guapo, along with a couple of MIT student-associated bands: Tristan de Cunha and Words For Snow. This is sort of a grassroots thing so they’d appreciate your support; for more information, check out <http://www.slendermusic.com/tristan/>.

And then there’s Steer Roast. Geeta Dayal ’01, who booked the very successful Voo Doo Party concert last year, set up the music for this year’s Roast, and the lineup looks great. Friday night’s headlined by The Mooney Suzuki, a New York rock band just off a tour with the Donnas. Also on the bill for Friday are Canadian pop act Stars, Roast-alums Reflecting Skin, and the sure-to-be-interesting openers, Technology Day Luncheon. Friday’s invitation only, so if you want in, you’d better talk to somebody at Senior House who likes you.

Saturday night, the top-billed act is Neptune, a local group who make dissonant rock with scrap metal instruments. I’m more excited about the next-to-last band myself -- the Minibosses -- who perform rock covers of classic Nintendo theme songs. (You’ll recognize them when you hear them.) Rounding out the lineup are two acts from last year: the Damn Personals and TEP’s own School of the Americas. Music starts at 9 both nights.

I was at TT The Bear’s Thursday night for a CD release party with Hip Tanaka, and their new album, The Sky Is Smaller Than The Sea, contains some of the first material I’ve heard from them that makes me stop thinking of them as a local band and more like a band that’s going to go places. The mix is tighter than on their last effort, Le Jihad, and the songwriting has developed strongly, as evidenced by “Mustang Pride,” “I Don’t Know What You Want Me To Say,” and the hooky title track. The excitement of the occasion seemed to energize the band, as they opened enthusiastically with “Annika Sorenstam,” thundered through new and old material (all of which the crowd loved) and closed with an awesome performance of “Beg.” Pick up the new album and see this band live ... I have a feeling their crowds are only going to get bigger.

Ours has a tour schedule that seems to be revolving around Boston. They’ve already made two stops in Cambridge last month, they’ll be at the Paradise opening for Ocean Colour Scene this week, and next month they’re back again with Powderfinger. “Sometimes,” the leadoff single from their upcoming debut, Distorted Lullabies, begins softly and ominously, foreshadowing a Deftones style before leaping into crashes of cymbals and guitars. The comparison to Radiohead is obvious ... the lead vocalist owes Thom Yorke royalties and the instrumentation sounds like it was pulled from The Bends (except for the main riff, which is clearly from “Talk Show Host.”) Ours apply darker tones though, and they attempt art-rock with goth-rock shadings, placing them closer on the musical map to Muse or VAST. Though the single is intriguing, it doesn’t really carve out its own niche. I’ll reserve judgment until the album hits stores.

Being ... sucked ... toward ... sunshine .... Before I go catch some rays, I’ll do my usual whining for e-mail <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu> and note that a lot of this week’s content was shaped by reader response. If you like what you see, tell me to keep it that way, and if not, tell me to fix it. Until next time, go outside for a change, and keep expanding your horizons.