IN YOUR EAR
Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Warner Music Japan, 2,580 yen
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
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
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
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)