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Old 07-10-2007, 05:51 PM   #1
Nate the Grate
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Default Whoa, seriously the best article about SP I've ever read (Boston Globe)

From the Boston Globe:
http://www.boston.com/ae/music/artic...t_immortality/

Another stab at immortality
Reformed Smashing Pumpkins bring back their epic sound

By Saul Austerlitz, Globe Correspondent | July 10, 2007

Once upon a time, in the mid-1990s, the hierarchy of alternative rock went as follows: Nirvana first and foremost, Pearl Jam second, and then, in bronze-medal position, Smashing Pumpkins. With Kurt Cobain's tragic suicide , and Pearl Jam attempting to divest itself of its fan base as rapidly as possible by avoiding the MTV star-making machine, it fell to lead singer Billy Corgan and his band to carry the mantle of rock saviors for a moment, bringing the post-punk, post-"Smells Like Teen Spirit" noise to an nation of grunge lovers.

With back-to-back blockbuster albums, 1993's "Siamese Dream" and 1995's double-disc "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," the Pumpkins, bred in the Chicago alternative scene but never entirely part of its hipper-than-thou aesthetic, ascended to the rank of idols. Rolling Stone covers and Video Music Awards lay strewn in their path, and a place in the pantheon of alternative-rock elders, the successors to U2 and R.E.M., seemed a foregone conclusion.

But the 1996 death of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, and the lackluster sales of post-"Mellon Collie" albums, intensified already-simmering tensions between Corgan and his bandmates, causing the band to break up in 2000. Corgan briefly formed a new group, power-poppers Zwan , and released an electronica-influenced solo record before reuniting with Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and bringing back the Smashing Pumpkins name for a new album, "Zeitgeist," out today. The question is: Does anyone still care?

The Smashing Pumpkins went from rock titans to has-beens, the forgotten stars of alternative rock's heyday. The generations of bands that followed them were more influenced by the Pumpkins' colleagues, bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Weezer, than the Pumpkins themselves, and as a result, the Pumpkins ' sound has been, to a degree, edited out of 1990s alternative-rock history. Where peers like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots have maintained a steady presence on radio stations, and the glow that often sticks to former giants, Smashing Pumpkins have suffered a dizzying downturn in their reputation since the glory days of "Mellon Collie." The band that once could release "The Aeroplane Flies High," a five-CD boxed set of B-sides and outtakes, to breathless anticipation must now hope that fans still remember hits like "1979" and "Tonight, Tonight" with some fondness.

So what happened to the Pumpkins?

In essence, the gulf that always separated the band from its alt-rock cohorts has only widened with the passage of time. While Smashing Pumpkins were part and parcel of the grunge era, they were never entirely rooted in the sound that Nirvana broke. Corgan was a studio-rat control freak, whom rumors naggingly insisted re-recorded the parts played by all three of his bandmates. Corgan's musical taste buds were formed by arena rock just as much as its more avant-garde successors, and there were times when his work bore more of a resemblance to that of paragons of 1970s bloat like Electric Light Orchestra or Boston than to 1980s icons of leanness, like the Minutemen or Hüsker Dü.

Smashing Pumpkins unabashedly embraced the grandiose -- epic guitar solos, sweeping string sections, and lengthy albums. Combined with Corgan's taste for wounded-romantic lyrics, the Pumpkins were the ideal soundtrack for melancholy youth lugging around their own infinite sadnesses. But today, the band's Gothic romanticism is a poor fit for the indie/alternative scene it helped form, too earnest for hipsters and too wimpy for classic rock, which has embraced the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. At a moment when hip new bands pay homage to the stripped-down post-punk era instead of overblown 1970s metal, Smashing Pumpkins' taste for pre-punk pomposity is a cultural faux pas. Where Nirvana and its grunge compadres are seen as essential to the movement from punk to post-punk to today's indie boom, Smashing Pumpkins, given their roots in arena rock, have grown peripheral to musical discourse. Their return comes too late to capitalize on many of their original fans, and too early to hop on the sure-to-soon-arrive grunge-revival bandwagon.

The waning interest is both understandable and unfortunate, for Smashing Pumpkins were the torch carriers for a monumental bombast American pop culture has grown too drenched in irony and cynicism to tolerate. "Zeitgeist" is a return to the harder-edged Pumpkins sound, its booming drums and echo-chamber guitar hooks placing the emphasis on the band's roots in Black Sabbath and the New Romantics. Emerging at a moment when groups prefer to find inspiration in Joy Division (like Interpol, see CD review on E1) or Gang of Four (Bloc Party) or electric blues (the White Stripes), this taste for arena-filling, crowd-pleasing, easy-on-the-ears sounds is, strangely , an artistically and commercially unpopular choice. Smashing Pumpkins have become representatives of Clinton-era simplicity and straightforwardness, their gigantism and lack of irony shortcomings when sharing the cultural stage with Flight of the Conchords and Modest Mouse. In an era when concision and self-deprecation are favored , it is difficult to believe that a band so sprawling, and so nakedly ambitious, could have been as enormously popular as they once were. A double-disc, 28-track album with an opening instrumental overture suitable for weddings and graduation ceremonies? Fans are unlikely to hit up iTunes for that sort of thing in 2007.

The backlash began during the years of the Pumpkins' greatest successes. Corgan's unabashed desire to be the biggest rock star in the world, to write the songs that the whole world would sing, as he often stated in interviews, cast him as the LBJ to Cobain's JFK -- the callow, power-hungry successor to the noble dead prince. Corgan's songs inflated his emotionally turbulent psyche to galactic proportions ("In my mind I'm everyone," he sings on "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans," off "Mellon Collie"), with the resulting work by turns anguished, desperately romantic, and bitterly angry. Corgan's songwriting skills were always underrated; he was never quite as elegant with the haunting quip as Cobain was. These qualities made Corgan a target for cooler-than-thou hipsters like Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, who famously called the band out in song: "Out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins, nature kids, they don't have no function, I don't understand what they mean, and I could really give a [expletive]."

Smashing Pumpkins ' songs never felt like the secret initiation to an exclusive club the way that Nirvana's did. What they did was compress outsize emotion into bite-size servings, using power-pop, sugary hard rock, and Black Sabbath, mid-'70s-era metal as platforms for Corgan's passive-aggressive melancholia. Corgan may not have been a brilliant lyricist, but his knack for pop hooks -- for producing songs like "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and "Disarm" that sank their hooks into alternative radio and MTV and would not let go -- was positively uncanny.

As a band unashamed of grandiosity or naked romanticism, Smashing Pumpkins received the same beating from critics and naysayers any group that aims for the stars does, for overreaching, and for silliness. But at its brightest moments, it defined a type of surging, epic swoop that none of its descendants have been able to match. "Zeitgeist" (the title is meant to be pronounced with fingers crossed, presumably) is an attempt to remind fans of what has been absent, during the band's hiatus, from the world of rock.

The album is also an attempt to erase the band's less impressive later incarnations, and return to its sweet spot -- the "Siamese Dream"/"Mellon Collie" era. Where Smashing Pumpkins once sought to blend dark with light, hard with soft, "Zeitgeist" mostly confines itself to the group's metalloid configuration -- perhaps a function of the absence of original bassist, and confirmed softie, James Iha. Even synth-heavy tracks like "For God and Country" still center on Chamberlin's furious, controlled drumming. "Zeitgeist" offers the Pumpkins' classic sound, but only one element of it -- "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," but not "Tonight, Tonight."

"Zeitgeist" definers no longer, Smashing Pumpkins have retreated into popular culture's blind spot. Once upon a time, though, in a long-ago, half-remembered era, they were firmly in the driver's seat, and their combination of hard and soft, precise and grand, bloat and magnificence reigned supreme. Their time will soon return.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:57 PM   #2
bja1288
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"confirmed softie, James Iha"
quality jab

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:03 PM   #3
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I saw that article in the Globe. Pretty Good.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:05 PM   #4
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they will return to the driver's seat woohoo!

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Smashing Pumpkins have become representatives of Clinton-era simplicity and straightforwardness, their gigantism and lack of irony shortcomings when sharing the cultural stage with Flight of the Conchords and Modest Mouse.
Yeah, irony sucks.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:17 PM   #6
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Loved it.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:20 PM   #7
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this guy threw in a Clinton comparison.

grade: F.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:22 PM   #8
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outstanding piece on the state of music right now....rock on...

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Omega Concern
this guy threw in a Clinton comparison.

grade: F.
didnt like the james iha jab?

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:25 PM   #10
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Back on track baby! Nice article.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:27 PM   #11
Nate the Grate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Omega Concern
this guy threw in a Clinton comparison.

grade: F.
He didn't compare him to Clinton, you fucking idiot. "Clinton-era". Not Clinton. Do you understand the difference?

Unless you don't believe in art reflecting the "spirit of the times" (lol...zeitgeist!).

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:36 PM   #12
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"perhaps a function of the absence of original bassist... James Iha."

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:39 PM   #13
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Perhaps I misunderstood some of the article, but it sounded to me like he is saying that SP wont have much to contribute to this new era. Or at least thats the vibe I get from the beginning part.
Looking at Live Earth I was struck by just HOW different SP is. Granted, there were no acts from the "hip" scene, but SP really stood out as having something powerful and grand to offer.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:40 PM   #14
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Billy Corgan did not have sexual relations with Linda Strawberry!

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:41 PM   #15
bja1288
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbrianwilson
"perhaps a function of the absence of original bassist... James Iha."
original bassist (Darcy), and softie Iha (proud creator of the abomination "Let It Come Down")
learn english plz

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:41 PM   #16
firewoman
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that was a beautiful article. I don't agree with Billy not being a brilliant lyricist, but everything else was superbly written. thanks for sharing Nate!

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:50 PM   #17
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it's okay i guess, but it calls james the bassist, and claims billy re-recorded parts by "all three members". Yeah, that's billy on those drums. woo hoo!

i can't even tell if this guy's laughing at them or praising them. he should be less wordy and find a direction already. What can i say, i hate journalists.

(but thanks for posting it, it was still pretty interesting in some parts)

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:52 PM   #18
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Wow, I am impressed. That was not biased in any way, was informative, and entertaining to read.

""Zeitgeist" offers the Pumpkins' classic sound, but only one element of it -- "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," but not "Tonight, Tonight.""

Best line in the article. I think it is also the best way ive heard yet that describes Zeitgeist

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:57 PM   #19
Nate the Grate
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He doesn't say James was the bassist. He says the bassist, and James Iha. Re-read, people!

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
originally posted by Nate the Grate:

He didn't compare him to Clinton, you fucking idiot. "Clinton-era". Not Clinton. Do you understand the difference?

Unless you don't believe in art reflecting the "spirit of the times" (lol...zeitgeist!).
dude. fucking relax. it's still a Clinton comparison and I find this entire article reaching for a definition that only exist in this guy's mind as he's trying to figure out the era's as he's writing.

Quote:
In an era when concision and self-deprecation are favored...
ahhh, but if he's right here with this comment about the times today...no wonder the scene is so boring.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:06 PM   #21
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I always feel good after reading something written by a journalist who obviously knows what the hell he's talking about. The fact that there was no mention of "Swan" in this article is fantastic.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:07 PM   #22
Nate the Grate
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Yeah well...stop posting on the politics board!

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:07 PM   #23
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yeah, that's probably true, but he should have written that bit a little more clearly. WE know that James isn't the bassist, but people who read this who don't know, probably will think that's what he was saying. I know, it's nitpicking. I really have just gotten fed up with journalists lately, sorry.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:09 PM   #24
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You're right, nate. It was a good essay.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:12 PM   #25
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The music scene in Boston is huge and for the Globe to be positive about the pumpkins, I think this speaks volumes.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:12 PM   #26
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The Boston Globe can be very critical at times.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:12 PM   #27
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nice article..

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:15 PM   #28
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All i can say is that this dude is a true journalist in the modern sense of the word. Seems like he probably knows nothing of the band, but his interns were able to dig up enough half truths and out of context lyrical quotes to come up with a unique "angle".

I like the story he tried to write, but he could have used a fact checker. These days, there is very little excuse for this kind of crap other than sheer laziness.

It's so funny how they get compared to pearl jam and nirvana. SO lame. As soon as somebody does that, it's a good signal that you should tune them out.

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:17 PM   #29
br191804
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Nate the Grate, I wish Cam Neely was walking through that Garden door. Man, I miss him

 
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:20 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bja1288
original bassist (Darcy), and softie Iha (proud creator of the abomination "Let It Come Down")
learn english plz
you'd have a point if it read that way, but it doesn't. It indicates that the author is under the impression that James was the bassist, which is discrediting to the entire article.

learn grammar plz

 
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