Thursday, 12 January 2012

CD Column in The Daily Yomiuri on 4th August 2007

Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Warner Music Japan, 2,580 yen

Seven years since Billy Corgan told a live radio audience that the Smashing Pumpkins would split at the end of 2000, they're back with a new album, titled Zeitgeist.

Not that Corgan ever lost the loyalty of his fans, especially in Japan. As anyone who saw him playing with New Order at the Fuji Rock Festival in 2001 can testify, a small number of the crowd were there purely to see their shaven-headed hero, despite the Manchester band limiting his vocals to that of the backing variety.

But ever the showman, Corgan opted to declare his intention to re-form the group two years ago in dramatic style with a massive advertisement in his hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.

So is Zeitgeist, the seventh release by the band, worth the wait?

Die-hard Smashing Pumpkins fans will no doubt lap up this latest offering of the band's lush, alternative rock that made the Smashing Pumpkins one of the most popular bands of the 1990s, though whether it will mark their second coming is another matter. Mind you, as Corgan and the other remaining original member Jimmy Chamberlin both namecheck God in the liner notes' thank you list, they're leaving nothing to chance.

The zeitgeist that the band seem to be trying to capture is there straight off the bat in the grungy opener "Doomsday Clock," a number that addresses the hot topic of the moment, global warming.

Not that this is a concept album. Zeitgeist has a stab at addressing current issues, but mainly ends up as a collection of rock songs that are slightly more conservative than alternative these days, though "United States," is just a sprawling piece of pomp that finally and thankfully stops just short of the 10-minute mark.

The following track, "Neverlost," comes as welcome relief and its simple melodies make it one of the album's best tracks.

While Zeitgeist is unlikely to gain the Smashing Pumpkins many new converts, their shoe-gazing fans will be more than satisfied with this comeback offering.

Standing in the Way of Control
Hostess, 1,980 yen

Beth Ditto, singer with New York rock band Gossip, has created a lot gossip over the years in the music press, not only stemming from the power of her vocals but also her outspoken views on a number of issues, including feminism, her sexuality and even her substantial weight, posing naked on the cover of British music magazine New Musical Express.

And if you haven't heard Gossip yet, one listen to Standing in the Way of Control, the group's third studio album, will soon have you spreading the word that there is more to the band than mere press hype.

The opening two tracks of this collection of strong bluesy punk numbers sets a storming pace, with Ditto's rasping vocal delivery on "Fire With Fire," sounding like a cross between Patti Smith and Tina Turner, while the title track comes across as the Scissor Sisters shot through with a dose of grunge.

Not that Gossip are a one-woman show. Brace Paine on guitar/bass and Hannah Billie on drums provide great backup, dynamic on the up-tempo tracks and understated on slower numbers like the excellent "Coal to Diamonds."

Record buyers get two bonus tracks on the forthcoming domestic release of Standing in the Way of Control: new versions of "Listen Up!" and the title track.
(Aug. 4, 2007)

No comments:

Post a Comment