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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Things Roll Along Smoothly for Catherine Wheel at Roxy

Monday’s bill at the Roxy featured Catherine Wheel and Slowdive, two bands from England’s “shoegazing” scene--a genre typified by multi-guitar white noise, dreamy melodies and wafting, float-away vocals. The style can often prove boring live, because all the textures tend to bleed into one annoying, distorted hum. It’s a hurdle that Catherine Wheel, the more experienced headliner, cleared. Slowdive didn’t.

Catherine Wheel, perhaps aware that it could sound as monotonous as a Hoover on overdrive, pumped more dynamics into its spinning melodies than it does on its two albums. Only minutes into the hour-plus set, its light guitar jangle erupted into chaotic blasts of dense, buzzing dream-pop.

The extra effort gave the whirling, double-guitar grinding some definition, while singer Rob Dickinson, whose vocals come off too sheer on record, belted out emotional lyrics in tense and ripping tones. Another welcome element: The band was actually animated on stage.

Slowdive, on the other hand, trudged through what seemed like hours of peakless mantras and dissolving vocals. The quintet should be sure to watch the headliners and learn how to kick some life into a genre that’s often too cool to register a pulse.

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