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What to Surf - Music Websites

The best music related websites for the week of June 11, 1999

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Saturday Night Live Band
You like-a the band? Then visit Dave Mackey’s homage to the one aspect of SNL that consistently delivers, even during those times when the show has been painfully unfunny (like, say, right now). Those who can’t imagine sitting through another installment of “Mango” will devour the band history, member bios, and catalog of veterans (including Paul Shaffer and film scorer Marc Shaiman). There’s even a link to a petition that lets you lobby to reduce Chris Kattan’s airtime in favor of more shrill sax solos from Alex Foster. A

The new sound from Schenectady is the classic sound from radio’s golden age. Superbly conceived and maintained by a trio of nostalgia buffs, WABY broadcasts (via RealAudio) the latest from such up-and-comers as Cole Porter and George Gershwin. Specific aural cravings can be satisfied with a selection of special programs, including New Dogs, Old Tricks, where contemporary artists put their own spin on legendary standards (the kennel runneth over with such quirky genre busters as Lyle Lovett and k.d. lang). A

Screens and Themes: Music
What do you give the music fan who has everything? A singing taskbar, of course! PC users with Windows 95 or 98 Plus and WinZip can now achieve total desktop immersion in their band of choice. At this Newark, Del.-based site, simply download from the site, unzip, and slip into something more comfortable (i.e., custom wallpaper, mouse animation, and event noises). Over 2,000 free desktop themes in all, from ABBA to ZZ Top. A-

The Wesley Willis Page
Wesley Willis: sketch artist, schizophrenic, cult phenom…genius. Well, the last one’s in the ear of the beholder, but you’re sure to be hooked after hearing the 300-lb Chicagoan “get down like a lion” with originals like “Rock n’ Roll McDonalds” and “I Wupped Batman’s Ass.” Dennis Lucey’s site contains a live concert in RealAudio and transcriptions of Willis’ often unintelligible (but always fascinating) lyrics. A-

Jeff Butera’s Fantasy Drum Corps International
Sure, fantasy sports are hot, but what about the band? Here’s a page for anyone who has stepped in time to “Louie Louie”: a fantasy marching band league, where you create your ideal band from captions (scoring subsets such as Performance: brass) gleaned from actual Drum Corps International competitions. E-mail bulletins tell you how your band and its rivals are doing as the DCI season marches on. North Carolinian Butera concedes that his non-Java site lacks bells and whistles, but it gets the job done: Over 100 bands are currently registered. B+

Ricky Martin
Martin’s an international sensation, so naturally his Sony website speaks more languages than a Manhattan ATM. The lengthy RealAudio interview is available only in English, however; choosing “Espanol”just translates the convenient menu titles. Martin’s pretty puss (visible on nearly every page) tempts you to buy his CDs, watch his swiveling hips via RealVideo, and join his rapidly expanding global empire. Entragate! B

The Official Ben Folds Five Site
A phalanx of little Reinholds greets Fivers with a riff from “Army,” then beckons them to sample clips (in RealAudio, among other formats) from the North Carolina-based band’s latest offering, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. The Pong game is a battle of who could care less, but Frank Maynard’s Magical Armchair newsletter will keep you apprised of BFF’s every move. B+