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Keeping it cool

Those who didn’t get a ticket to Beck’s fan-club-only show at the Zellerbach Theater last Saturday shouldn’t worry. Beck is touring behind his forthcoming album, Sea Change, which will hit bins Sept. 24.

The disc, which is filled with confessional, acoustic songs, recalls the diminutive songsmith’s 1998 album, Mutations. Beck will be backed by quirky alterna-rockers The Flaming Lips.

Word out of the Beck camp is that the shows will feature songs from most of his albums, yet many will be reinterpreted. That’s not surprising, since Beck has never been one to avoid risks.

Even at his first Philly appearance at J.C. Dobbs eight years ago, Beck chose not to render his lone hit at the time, Loser, much to the chagrin of fans in the packed club. There’s no ticket or date info yet, but it will be interesting, especially since The Lips are on board. You can bet the Wayne Coyne-led band will have a hand in the arrangements of Beck material.

I have to admit that I committed a cardinal sin last year, which is judging a band before really listening to its tunes. When I heard the story of the Strokes — young, rich Manhattanites who came of age in boarding schools — I couldn’t help but avoid listening to the band. The hype was massive. Pass. I did check out the band’s biggest hit, Last Nite, in passing, and wrote it off as an American Girl rip-off with an unimpressive vocal.

Boy, was I wrong! Since the beginning of the year, the group’s debut disc, Is This It, gets a good workout each day in my CD player. Last Thursday, I ventured to Radio City Music Hall to catch Gotham’s hometown boys, who were sharing a bill with the visceral White Stripes.

All the noise about the band, which has saved rock ‘n’ roll, almost rings true. The Strokes happen to be the anomaly today — an exciting, young band that pounds out pure, unadulterated rock. Drummer Fab Moretti is phenomenal. Vocalist Julian Casablancas is a gifted songwriter. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. is a future axe star. No wonder Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher is such a fan of these guys. They’re not just rockers. They’re rock stars, which are in short supply these days.

The Strokes, who previewed five melodic pop-rock nuggets, will work on a new album during autumn. By the way, the group closed the show with New York City Cops, a slam at NYC’s finest, which was pulled from its album after the 9-11 tragedy.

Dave Williams (not to be confused with the local Goth musician) of Drowning Pool died last week. It’s a shame since Williams really seemed to be a nice, mellow fellow. Sure, it’s easy to throw a facade up during an interview, but Williams was a playful, respectful, funny character who was going places.

Drowning Pool, an Ozzfest band, was touring behind its debut disc, Sinner, which sold more than 1.2 million units.

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