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MUSIC REVIEW

State of the Airwaves

Hi-Fi, Hesher, Hit or Miss

By Dan Katz

staff writer

Well, the Grammys have come and gone, and here’s a quick rundown. The good: U2 getting Song and Record of the Year for “Beautiful Day,” and an incredible performance by Moby, Jill Scott, and Blue Man Group that received a standing ovation. The bad: a terribly anticlimactic performance by Eminem and Elton John in which absolutely nothing interesting happened, and an Album of the Year award for Steely Dan over Eminem, Radiohead, and Beck. The ugly: an awkward but beautiful moment in which Shelby Lynne won Best New Artist and angrily snapped that she had been making music for over ten years. At least one such artist is nominated every year, and a lot of times they win; it’s about time somebody got publicly offended.

The winter touring slump seems to be over, as there are concerts rolling in left and right. Superdrag hit TT The Bear’s tomorrow night, and Steer Roast alums the Damn Personals are at the Paradise Rock Club Thursday. On Friday there’s plenty going on; most notably Godsmack, Staind, and Cold play the Centrum in Worcester, a show which I believe is being taped for a live album. The Old ’97s are at Lilli’s, while Tree appears at the Middle East. On Friday and Saturday, local modern rockers Orbit celebrate the release of their new album, XLR8R with back-to-back shows at TT The Bear’s. On Saturday night, if you have an FNX card you can see Grand Theft Audio at Bill’s Bar for free; Orgy, Spineshank, Tinfed, and Alien Ant farm make up an impressive bill at the Centrum, and moe have a gig at the Orpheum. The weekend raps up at Lilli’s on Sunday with music from the Raging Teens.

Plenty of albums to crow about too this week. The big release today is Dave Matthews Band’s Everyday, on which Dave shows off the electric guitar he finally bought. Pearl Jam continues their quirky release of all their bootlegs with the first leg of U.S. shows from their fall tour. Run DMC are back from the dead with an album called Crown Royal, and American Hi-Fi (fronted by the former drummer from Letters To Cleo) release their self-titled debut. In dance music, Lords of Acid unveil Farstucker and The Orb have a disc called Cytonia; Hesher’s eponymous disc, Duncan Sheik’s Phantom Moon, and Orbit’s previously mentioned XLR8R round out this week’s releases. There’s plenty here worth your hard-earned money; personally, I’ll be picking up at least the Orbit and American Hi-Fi discs.

Well, it’s late for Valentine’s Day, but both of my profiled singles this week are on the romantic side. Thanks to the magic of record label promos, I recently encountered a band I’d never heard of called the Churchills. Their album You Are Here has some great stuff on it, probably the most refined pure pop music I’ve heard since Elliot Smith or Vertical Horizon. The highlight is the leadoff track and first single, “Beautiful (Coulda Woulda)” a passionate but tender tribute, pleading, “Your soul is beautiful, but do you feel something for me?” It’s got a guitar riff that’s now been in my head for weeks, wonderful lyrics and a great overall vibe. This is probably the best song I’ve heard so far this year. Word.

On another front, one of the last places I expect to find romance is in punk music, but “Hit or Miss” by A New Found Glory is a pretty moving song as well as aggressive. The opening (possibly a movie sample?), in which a voice sighs that “nothing gold can stay” establishes a slightly epic tone that makes the song seem deeper than a typical punk track. The playing’s tight, the vocals are on, the lyrics are accessible, and it’s just nice to see a punk band that makes it onto the radio without being as soulless and sophomoric as Blink-182.

There’s your week in music. There will be another week in music in seven days, and I’ll be here to keep you up to date. If there’s anything specific you’d like me to address, you can reach me at <airwaves@the-tech.mit.edu>. As always, I value your input. And also as always, have a great week and keep expanding your horizons.