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In musical humor 

If Fountains of Wayne proffers wry pop commentary from the Jersey 'burbs, Guster's precinct is the Boston college circuit. Since forming at Tufts in the early '90s, the trio (pictured above) has crafted sticky-sweet sounds cut with sardonic lyrics about starting the world over on a deserted island, or writing to a friend lost in a drug haze in Amsterdam. It's catchy, funny stuff, maybe a bit on the goofy side, but with enough wit, charm, and musical hooks to suffice. The group has attracted a sizeable fan base through the same kind of grassroots, behind-the-scenes audience participation in marketing that Dave Mathews, Blues Traveler or They Might Be Giants, among others, have practiced. And recently, Guster made the news by unleashing a special version of their latest album, Keep It Together, on the KaZaA internet file-sharing service; it replaced the lyrics with mewling cats. Some loved it, such as Neil Strauss of the The New York Times, who wrote that the meows, performed by the group's monitor engineer, Matt Peskie, communicated "unexpected humanity, largely because they are the sound of a person who loves the music having fun." Don't expect cats live, though the band is supposed to be quite humorous in performance. For more info, call 919-836-8535 or visit www.ritztheater.com. $15-18.

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