Dec 29, 2008

























np: "Cold Contagious" - Bush


If you ask me, I think its a shame that Gavin Rossdale and Bush have become something of a punching bag for critics and shorthand for "generic mid-90s alt-rock". I'm not going to try and tell you that Bush was some woefully understood and currently under appreciated band, but I hope they don't get swept into the dustbin of rock history quite so quickly. For one, they were a pretty decent singles band. Their run from debut single "Everything Zen" to "Greedy Fly" stacks up pretty well with any other alt-rock staple of that era, and later singles like "The Chemicals Between Us" and "Letting the Cables Sleep" still sound decent to these ears. I'd certainly rather hear "Machinehead" again than, I don't know, Tonic or something. Another reason to keep Bush in mind? Gavin Rossdale, in addition to be a good looking man in his day, had the perfect voice for alt-rock radio whether paired up with crashing guitars or detuned violins. He just sounded perfectly of his time and place in 90s rock music.

But the reason I'm bringing up this band today? Their seemingly frowned upon second album, Razorblade Suitcase. I'll agree that this band's career was a huge case of diminishing returns, but I'll argue that the downward spiral didn't begin until after this album - not with, as many seem to want to claim. I think this still, even in 2008, stands out as the band's strongest album - even if Sixteen Stone had the better singles. Why? Two words - Steve Albini. It can certainly be argued, and I won't disagree, that Bush was suffering from lazy Nirvana worship when they tapped Albini to produce that "difficult" follow-up to a multi-platinum debut. I think it was the best thing they could have done, if a bit surprising for a band with such a huge radio sheen turning to a well-known cantankerous, noisenik. Albini made this the best sounding album of Bush's career, bar none. No other post-grunge alt-rock band ever sounded this, well, grungy. Filled as it was with strangled guitars and muddy drums. This is what grunge should have sounded like to me. Not the crisp power balladry of Candlebox. And the sound suited Bush pretty well, as far as I'm concerned. The lyrics, never a strong suit for this band, seemed to make a little more sense when dirtied up and not straining for an obvious pop hook. The hooks were there for sure, check out the huge chorus that drove "Swallowed" to number one on the Modern Rock charts, but none of them came easy. There were mis-steps, "Bonedriven", for example, was way too obvious of a "Glycerine" re-write for anyone's tastes, but I'll defend this as the band's crowning achievement any day. It may have meant their massive audience dwindling to cult status, but I'd have loved for them to have continued in this vein. Unfortunately they followed the muse of that awful "Mouth" remix from the crappy werewolf movie and lost the plot after that.

[While looking up the chart position for "Swallowed", I saw on the band's wikipedia page that Gavin has announced a Bush reunion in 2009. Really? Already? Apparently the failure of Institute and his solo career have left Rossdale's coffers dry.]

Bush - "Cold Contagious" (taken from Razorblade Suitcase)
Bush - "Greedy Fly" (taken from Razorblade Suitcase)

Dec 26, 2008

2008 Year in Review IV: The Albums
And today we wrap our look back on the last twelve months with a list of the Top 50 Albums of 2008 according to via//chicago...

50. The Cure - 4:13 Dream (Geffen)
49. Deerhoof - Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars)
48. Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux (Island)
47. Sigur Ros - med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust (XL Recordings)
46. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek)
45. Foals - Antidotes (Sub Pop)
44. Grails - Doomsdayer's Holiday (Temporary Residence)
43. The Goslings - Occasion (Not Not Fun)
42. Ruby Suns - Sea Lion (Sub Pop)
41. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular (Sony)
40. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (Geffen)
39. Darker My Love - 2 (Dangerbird)
38. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III (Cash Money)
37. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
36. The Black Angels - Directions To See A Ghost (Light in the Attic)
35. Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (Kranky)
34. Opeth - Watershed (Roadrunner)
33. Nomo - Ghost Rock (Ubiquity)
32. M83 - Saturdays=Youth (Mute)
31. Oneida - Preteen Weaponry (Jagjaguwar)
30. Dungen - 4 (Kemado)
29. Dodos - Visiter (French Kiss)
28. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (ANTI-)
27. Jaguar Love - Take Me to the Sea (Matador)
26. Sun Kil Moon - April (Caldo Verde)
25. The Walkmen - You & Me (Gigantic)
24. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark (Astralwerks)
23. Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1 (Century Media)
22. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
21. Longwave - Secrets Are Sinister (Original Signal)























20. Harvey Milk - Life... The Best Game in Town (Hydra Head)
These Georgian riff-monsters continue their career resurgence with one of their best LPs yet, a thrillingly agile record that pulls from a wide variety of influences to give us one of the most creative metal releases of 2008.

























19. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst (Merge)
Conor sets aside the Bright Eyes moniker to release what may just be his most mature album yet, letting his natural songwriting shine through without his overindulgent tendencies and these are some of the strongest of his career.























18. Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward (Ecstatic Peace)
Another blast of fresh air from these Nashville kids that, sadly, will more than likely end up as the band's swan song. Jemina Pearl explodes like a Pop Rock and Coke bomb, delving into tales of high school rivalry, refusing to grow up, and... oh, yeah... zombies. Awesome.

























17. Black Mountain - In the Future (Jagjaguwar)
A psychedelic, retro stoner rock album of the finest pedigree, cramming crushing riffs, soaring organs, prog interludes and garage rock rhythms into every nook and cranny.

























16. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer (Sub Pop)
Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner activate their Wonder Twin powers for the second Wolf Parade full-length, and it's a doozy. In a more just world "Call It A Ritual" and "Language City" would have been the Top 40 hits they deserve to be.

























15. Jay Reatard - Matador Singles 08 (Matador)
To tide fans over until next year's proper full-length, Jay spent 2008 tossing out some highly prized singles that showed off different aspects of his songwriting prowess. Even if 2009 fails to deliver for Reatard (highly unlikely), this will stand as an excellent testament to his skills.

























14. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)
Quite likely the best thing to come out of the backwoods of Wisconsin since, I don't know, venison jerky. Freedom and desolation feed a hauntingly lovely album.

























13. No Age - Nouns (Sub Pop)
This L.A. duo single-handedly revived '90s indie rock with last years Weirdo Rippers and this album, combining pop sensibility with a penchant for noise. A hard record to ignore and even harder to get out of your head.

























12. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador)
One of the more adventurous releases of 2008 came courtesy of a Canadian hardcore band that saw fit to toss some hallucinogenic prog-rock in with their otherwise brutal assault.

























11. Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. (Kranky)
Beautiful, gauzy indie pop filtered through layers upon layers of shoegaze haze and shimmering chords. Bradford Cox continues to improve with each successive release.

























10. Portishead - Third (Mercury)
Eleven years after their last album and they haven't lost a single step. In fact, judging by the variety on display within, seems like they've managed to pick up a trick or two over the last decade. The grower of the year for me.

























9. Torche - Meanderthal (Hydra Head)
It's too bad that Torche is considered a "metal" band, because that's going to scare a lot of potential fans away from one of the poppiest, most accessible riff-fests I've ever heard.

























8. Lykke Li - Youth Novels (Atlantic)
Forget Britney, forget Katy, forget Mariah - Lykke is the pop diva of 2008. Sexy, charming, playful and, most importantly, wholly original - the Swedish Li represented everything that the other ladies on the pop chart seemed to be lacking this year.

























7. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight (Fat Cat)
Because the '00s bedroom depressives needed their own Smiths. Between the larger than life vocals and the bleeding heart-on-sleeve lyrics - its not a bad comparison.

























6. Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Capitol)
Who knew? It only took four albums, but Chris Martin and his band finally live up to all the expectations piled on them since the beginning. Let U2 fade quietly into the night - we have our new biggest band in the world.

























5. TV on the Radio - Dear Science (Interscope)
They deserve a spot on this list for the gorgeous "Family Tree" along, but the rest of the disc is nearly as good, adding a healthy dose of funk to the band's already potent sonic stew.























4. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (Modular)
Blatantly derivative, backwards-focused pop that belies all expectations and ends up being one of the more pleasant releases of the year. Getting DFA mastermind Tim Goldsworthy to produce certainly helps, but when you have tunes as killer as "Hearts On Fire", "Out There on the Ive", "So Haunted", and "Lights & Music" - it's going to be a great year.

























3. Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster... (Arts & Crafts)
The first of their two(!) impressive 2008 albums is the better of the two, but only because it features the more immediate tunes of the bunch. The best young band on the planet.






















2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (XL Recordings)
Now that the hype has died down and we've gotten past the backlash to the backlash to the backlash to this band's early success, we can appreciate the debut for what it is - a fantastic pop album with bucketloads of charm.

























1. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War) (Motown)
Badu's compelling neo-funk album was a fitting soundtrack for 2008 - all of the anger, fear, passion and anxiety with a strong undercurrent of hope. An album worth returning to again and again and again. Dilla would be proud.


And a few honorable mentions...
Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts - Temporary People (Lonely Astronaut)
Blitzen Trapper - Furr (Sub Pop)
Bun B - II Trill (Rap-A-Lot)
Jason Collett - Here's To Being Here (Arts & Crafts)
Cult of Luna - Eternal Kingdom (Earache)
Dead Meadow - Old Growth (Matador)
Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs (Atlantic)
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound (Side One Dummy)
The Gates of Slumber - Conqueror (Profound Lore)
Gojira - The Way of All Flesh (Prosthetic)
The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia (Sub Pop)
Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair (Mute)
Intronaut - Prehistoricisms (Century Media)
The Killers - Day & Age (Island)
Kings of Leon - Only by the Night (RCA)
Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel (EMD International)
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue (Warner Bros.)
Jamie Lidell - Jim (Warp)
Little Joy - Little Joy (Rough Trade)
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash (Matador)
Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling (Matador)
Panic at the Disco - Pretty. Odd. (Fueled By Ramen)
Quiet Village - Silent Movie (K7)
Santogold - Santogold (Downtown)
Spiritualized - Songs in A&E (Fontana International)
These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid (Domino)
T.I. - Paper Trail (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
U.S. Christmas - Eat the Low Dogs (Neurot)
Vandermark 5 - Beat Reader (Atavistic)
Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)

Dec 22, 2008

2008 Year in Review III: The Singles
Tonight we move on to one of the two bigger categories, the 100 best singles of the year as deemed so by via//chicago. Let's go...

(note: where possible I've tried to link to YouTube videos that show off the studio version of these songs, but thanks to copyright crazy labels - this sometimes wasn't possible and a live or alternate version is given)

100. "Elvis" - These New Puritans
99. "The Shock of the Lightning" - Oasis
98. "Saints of Los Angeles" - Motley Crue
97. "Magick" - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
96. "No Hay Nadie Como Tu" - Calle 13 f. Cafe Tacuba
95. "Better" - Guns N Roses
94. "Id Engager" - Of Montreal
93. "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" - Mariah Carey
92. "Eraser" - No Age
91. "Whatever You Like" - T.I.
90. "Get Busy" - The Roots f. Dice Raw & Peedi Peedi
89. "You Want the Candy" - The Raveonettes
88. "Hip-Hop Saved My Life" - Lupe Fiasco f. Nikki Jean
87. "My Year in Lists" - Los Campesinos!
86. "Guilt" - The Long Blondes
85. "Talons" - Bloc Party
84. "Let It Rock" - Kevin Rudolf f. Lil Wayne
83. "The Perfect Boy" - The Cure
82. "Midnight Man" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
81. "Turn Tail" - The Young Knives
80. "Chemtrails" - Beck
79. "Cassius" - Foals
78. "The Day That Never Comes" - Metallica
77. "Lights Out" - Santogold
76. "Like A Vibration" - The Whigs
75. "Sexual Eruption" - Snoop Dogg
74. "Porcelain Heart" - Opeth
73. "Touch My Body" - Mariah Carey
72. "Waving Flags" - British Sea Power
71. "Flashing Lights" - Kanye West f. Dwele
70. "Something Is Not Right With Me" - Cold War Kids
69. "Kill the Director" - The Wombats
68. "The Rip" - Portishead
67. "Miserabilia" - Los Campesinos!
66. "Breaking It Up" - Lykke Li
65. "Spiralling" - Keane
64. "Human" - The Killers
63. "So What" - Pink
62. "About A Girl" - The Academy Is...
61. "The Age of the Understatement" - The Last Shadow Puppets
60. "American Boy" - Estelle f. Kanye West
59. "Space and the Woods/Focker" - Late of the Pier
58. "I Feel It All" - Feist
57. "Nothing Ever Happened" - Deerhunter
56. "Drivin' Down the Block (Remix)" - Kidz in the Hall f. Pusha T, Bun B, & The Cool Kids
55. "Electric Feel" - MGMT
54. "Live Your Life" - T.I. f. Rihanna
53. "Mercy" - Duffy
52. "Wishing Well" - Love Is All
51. "Teen Creeps" - No Age
50. "Sequestered In Memphis" - The Hold Steady
49. "I Don't Care" - Fall Out Boy
48. "Whispers/Whispers (Hercules & Love Affair Remix)" - Aeroplane
47. "Spaceman" - The Killers
46. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" - Vampire Weekend
45. "Gobbledigook" - Sigur Ros
44. "I Will Possess Your Heart" - Death Cab For Cutie
43. "Womanizer" - Britney Spears
42. "Tessellate" - Tokyo Police Club
41. "Ready for the Floor" - Hot Chip
40. "Pork and Beans" - Weezer
39. "Put On" - Young Jeezy f. Kanye West
38. "Golden Age" - TV on the Radio
37. "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" - Beyonce
36. "House of Cards" - Radiohead
35. "Sometime Around Midnight" - The Airborne Toxic Event
34. "Heartless" - Kanye West
33. "Lollipop" - Lil Wayne f. Static Major
32. "I'm Amazed" - My Morning Jacket
31. "The '59 Sound" - The Gaslight Anthem
30. "Reckoner" - Radiohead
29. "Sex On Fire" - Kings of Leon
28. "Kids" - MGMT
27. "Graveyard Girl" - M83
26. "Lost!" - Coldplay
25. "My Life" - The Game f. Lil Wayne
24. "Call It A Ritual" - Wolf Parade
23. "So Haunted" - Cut Copy
22. "A-Punk" - Vampire Weekend
21. "House Jam" - Gang Gang Dance
20. "The Healer" - Erykah Bade
19. "Blind" - Hercules & Love Affair
18. "I'm Good, I'm Gone" - Lykke Li
17. "Lost Coastlines" - Okkervil River
16. "Chasing Pavements" - Adele
15. "A Milli" - Lil Wayne
14. "Moab" - Conor Oberst
13. "Homecoming" - Kanye West f. Chris Martin
12. "Oxford Comma" - Vampire Weekend
11. "Nine in the Afternoon" - Panic at the Disco

10. "White Winter Hymnal" - Fleet Foxes
It starts out with that single, distant voice - at once haunting and intimate. Then the harmonies begin to pile on top of one another, carrying one of the most gorgeous melodies of the year. 147 achingly beautiful seconds.

9. "L.E.S. Artistes" - Santogold
I can never decide my favorite part of this song. One minute its the minimal verses that remind of the Strokes on codeine. But then that infectious hook bursts in and makes its case. Either way, Santi White struck some, er, gold with this track.

8. "Another Day" - Jamie Lidell
From the opening piano its clear that Jamie's been basking in the glow of his old Motown records. But where other artists might be content to coast on pure nostalgia, Lidell breathes blissful like into this track and makes it all his own. Hard to not tap your foot along with this one.

7. "Hearts On Fire" - Cut Copy
Fairly blatant in influence, this is an absolutely killer song nonetheless. The beat is pure early 90s dance, the guitar line is pure New Order, the sax is pure 80s pop, but it all melds together perfectly. Retro rarely sounds this fresh.

6. "Skinny Love" - Bon Iver
An elegant, intimate song that allows the narrator to pour his soul into every word and strummed chord. In weaker hands this would be a gloppy mess, but Justin Vernon squeezes emotion out of every note and makes you feel his ache.

5. "Viva La Vida" - Coldplay
The unexpectedly triumphant lead single from what may ultimately stand as Coldplay's career highpoint, this finally sees Chris Martin and company meeting (and exceeding) all the high expectations tossed in their way since debuting with "Yellow" years ago. Thrilling.

4. "Love Lockdown" - Kanye West
The divisive love-it-or-hate-it single of 2008 came out of left field after the triumphant parade of singles coming out of Graduation, but might be the best of the bunch ("Stronger" excepted). Kanye's Autotune whine isn't the star here, its those icy drums. I can't get enough of the way they double up on each other later in the song, I'm still getting chills.

3. "Little Bit" - Lykke Li
The Swedish-born Lykke packs loads of thrilling pop gems onto her debut full-length, Youth Novels, but "Little Bit" is the perfect encapsulation of what she is all about - sweet, coy, charming, sexy, and altogether engaging and impossible to forget.

2. "Swagga Like Us" - T.I. f. Jay-Z, Kanye West, & Lil Wayne
I have to admit, this is like my dream single right here, four of my favorite rappers dropping verses over a killer M.I.A. sample? I'll take two please. Although none of the four drop their strongest verse ever, the "Paper Planes" jacking beat is more than enough to make up for it. I can't wait for the rumored sequel.

1. "Time to Pretend" - MGMT
I remember falling hard for this song all the way back in January and it has not left my regular rotation since, if anything this will be the song that always reminds me of 2008. From the moment those drums dropped in after that wonky intro, I knew I was hooked. On the surface this is about kids reaching for the age old rock and roll dream, but digging a little deeper reveals a more universal theme about holding on to your youth as you grow up and gather more and more responsibility. Maybe it was just me buying a house, getting married, and turning 32 - but this song hit me on so many levels. A more than worthwhile song of the year.

Check back soon for the albums of the year...

Dec 21, 2008

2008 Year in Review II: The EPs / The Various and Sundry
And we continue with the via//chicago countdown of the best in music of 2008... first up the 10 best EPs of the year:

1. The Cool Kids - The Bake Sale (Chocolate Industries)
2008 was another great year for Chicago hip-hop, and the future looks even brighter for the breakout duo of Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish. The Bake Sale is chock full of old school beats straight out of 1988, layered with playful rhymes that recall a time before hip-hop was all just gangsters and trap stars. Every song on this EP is a stand out, but particularly "Basement Party" and "Black Mags". I can't wait to hear more from these guys in the year to come.

2. Animal Collective - Water Curses (Domino)
Representing a scaling back from the full-blown Strawberry Jam, Water Curses finds the Collective once more trading in acoustic experiments and spaced-out, dubby jams. It feels at once a piece with the rest of the band's impressive back catalog, but closer listens reveal some unusual sounds twisted into interesting and blissed-out rhythmic melodies. It's impossible to predict where these guys will head next, but this seems to be setting 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion up to be something really special.

3. Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant (Sub Pop)
Prior to becoming one of 2008's most blogged-about bands, this Seattle band quietly sent this EP out into the world and the accolades began piling up. Given the over-saturation of freak-folk bands over the last several years, it was hard to believe we would be ready for another one - but the soaring melodies and vocal harmonies made these guys difficult to ignore. The quietly beautiful title track set us up for the stunningly gorgeous "White Winter Hymnal" that was to follow, but songs like "Mykonos" and "English House" showed off the band's tremendous range.

4. Crystal Antlers - Crystal Antlers (Touch and Go)
Between Antlers, Stilts, and Castles - 2008 was the year for "Crystal" bands. Out of those three bands, all who hit 2008 was some impressive music, the Crystal Antlers are most definitely my favorite. Mostly because they are so difficult to describe and next to impossible to pigeonhole. When I listen to this hefty EP (25 minute) I hear psych, garage, lo-fi, metal, krautrock, prog and a few other influences tossed into a sweltering blender. At one minute you swear this had to come out of some garage in 1968, while others this pegged as some 1974 German hippie throwback party. Truth is, this could have only come about in 2008, from a band with influences truly absorbed and not simply heard.

5. Lykke Li - Little Bit EP (Control Group)
A great little introduction to one of the indie world's biggest breakout stars from this past year. In a just world, Swedish-born Lykke would be one of the mainstream world's biggest breakout stars as well. Truth is, however, that no matter how beautiful her fractured take on pop is - there's just something a little "off" about it, which keeps the iTunes buying kids a little gunshy. As far as I'm concerned, however, a little bit of "off" is what makes her work so enjoyable. The title track is still her best work, but all four tracks on this EP showcase another adorable facet of her work.

6. One Day As A Lion - One Day As A Lion (ANTI-)
Back after Rage Against the Machine broke up in 2000, many fans were expecting lead singer Zack de la Rocha to blast back with another thrilling project. But years passed with little more than enticing rumors and speculation, while fans were left to deal with the abysmal Audisoslave formed by de la Rocha's former bandmates. It took nearly 8 years, but de la Rocha finally bounced back with another impressive project, this time teaming up with former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore. The band's self-titled debut is a Molotov cocktail of, well, rage - fueled by Theodore's monster rhythms and de la Rocha's nasty synths. Every bit as nasty as I was hoping it would be.

7. Past Lives - Strange Symmetry (Suicide Squeeze)
Along with Jaguar Love, this group was one of the two excellent post-Blood Brothers projects to emerge in 2008. This is basically the entire Blood Brothers line-up, minus lead singer Johnny Whitney and plus one of the dudes from Shoplifting. Past Lives offers a slightly scaled-back version of the Blood Brothers intensity, one that gives the music room to stretch out and breathe. Not as pop-oriented as Jaguar Love, but an impressive debut nonetheless.

8. Jesu - Why Are We Not Perfect? (Hydra Head)
Since striking out under the name Jesu after dissolving the groundbreaking band Godflesh, Justin Broadrick has excelled at a genre that blends the intensity of metal, the dreamy haze of shoegaze, and the barest hint of electronics. The latest in his long string of recent albums and EPs is certainly no exception, although it tends towards the more subdued and relaxed side of things. But that doesn't mean lazy, as each track is as beautifully layered and carefully sculptured as you might expect. Another winner from Broadrick.

9. Smashing Pumpkins - American Gothic (Reprise)
Despite my recent post blasting the Pumpkins for their recent failures, this four-track EP from the dawning of 2008 proves that there are still a few reasons to keep an ear on Corgan and company. As opposed to the all-out alt-rock guitar-a-thon that was the disappointing Zetigeist, American Gothic finds Corgan in stripped-down, reflective mode. A mode that serves him very well this time around, allowing the melodies to shine through while he himself sounds more heartfelt than he has in ages.

10. Coldplay - Prospekt's March (Capitol)
Coldplay tops off a hugely successful 2008 by releasing a follow-up EP to the mega-selling Viva La Vida that contains songs leftover from that album's sessions and new remixes. By nature, this thing is pretty hit or miss, but the songs that do hit are what makes it an essential listen for those who loved the album proper. "Life in Technicolor ii" is my favorite, fleshing out the instrumental intro that opened Viva La Vida. Toss in a handful of well-crafted B-sides, and you're left with one fine EP. Just be sure to skip over the version of "Lost+" with an awkwardly tacked on Jay-Z verse.

Moving on, here are my 20 favorite soundtracks, compilations, reissues and other non-album/non-EP releases of 2008.

1. Pavement - Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition (Matador)
The most unfairly maligned Pavement album, and my personal favorite, gets the deluxe treatment that shows just how fantastic this era was for the band.

2. The Jesus & Mary Chain - The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities (Rhino)
A fantastic four-dics collection that compiles this tremendous band's flipsides and obscurities, showcasing just how prolifically talented the Reid brothers were (and still are?).

3. Neil Young - Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 (Reprise)
An intimate and gorgeous performance that finds a funny, talkative Neil striking out shortly after the dissolution of Buffalo Springfield.

4. Black Sabbath - The Rules of Hell (Rhino)
It may read as simply a compilation of all the Dio era albums, but it ends up making the case that Sabbath was just as good (if not maybe a little better) with him than they were with Ozzy.

5. Rodriguez - Cold Fact (Light in the Attic)
One of the year's more interesting success stories, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez was a Detroit-born folkster that unleashed this psych-folk masterpiece on a world that wasn't quite ready for it in 1970.

6. King Khan and the Shrines - The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines (Vice)
King Khan has been supplying his outlandish take on garage rock to overseas audiences for years, but this year finally saw the best of his work compiled for American audiences. Absolutely essential listening for garage rock fans.

7. Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 - Tell Take Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 (Columbia)
The latest in the always exciting Bootleg Series makes a case for Dylan's last 17 years being just as strong as any that came before. Many of these songs are superior to the ones that made the official albums in that time period.

8. Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy)
Long a cult favorite among Beach Boys fanatics, 2008 saw the wide re-release of a classic album that proves Brian wasn't the only genius in the family.

9. Mudhoney - Superfuzz, Bigmuff (Deluxe Edition) (Sub Pop)
One of the most important documents of the pre-grunge explosion indie era gets the deluxe reish treatment, adding era appropriate singles, demos, and raucous live tracks that show the band in prime form.

10. Jay Reatard - Singles 06-07 (In the Red)
While most of the buzz this year was about his new Matador singles, In the Red wisely compiled the best of his prolific non-album work from the two years previous. Just as exciting and noteworthy.

11. Eels - Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2006 (DreamWorks)
12. Belle and Sebastian - The BBC Sessions (Matador)
13. Phish - At the Roxy (JEMP)
14. Beck - Odelay (Deluxe Edition) (Geffen)
15. Grateful Dead - Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978 (Grateful Dead)
16. Rocket from the Crypt - All Systems Go 3 (Vagrant/Swami)
17. Between the Buried & Me - Colors_LIVE (Victory)
18. Death - Symbolic (Roadrunner)
19. Xasthur - A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors (Hydra Head)
20. Indian - Slights and Abuse/The Sycophant (Megaforce)

Stay tuned for the best singles and albums of 2008...

Dec 20, 2008

2008 Year In Review I: The Introduction
If you asked me to sum up the year in music that was 2008 with a single synonym, I'd have to offer "meh". One word? Disappointing. I've always prickled when others have thrown around phrases like "this was a horrible year for music" or "nothing worthwhile came out this year", still kinda do, but I really never expected to kind of agree with those sentiments the way I have the past few weeks. As I've been looking back over the music I've heard over the past 12 months, I'm struck by how little there was to truly get excited about. There were very few blockbuster releases that left my jaw dropped wide, or little I've found to return to time and time and time again. Sure, this may change as I continue to spend time with my favorite albums of the year, but there is very little I can imagine myself pointing back to as one of my personal favorites of the decade. It's hard to really see 2008 as either a watershed or defining year in music.

I felt pretty much the same way when it came to the pop singles I'd hear on the radio. There was no "Stronger", no "Umbrella", no "Crazy", no "Stay Fly", no "Hey Ya", no "Mr. Brightside", no "Since U Been Gone" - no single pop song that enraptured me throughout the year and kept me bumping it long after the radio play died down. Sure, there were some valiant attempts by titans like Fall Out Boy, T.I., Rihanna, The Killers - but, while I may have found something to like about their best singles, none grabbed me like ones in years past. I kept finding it harder and harder to flip on the local radio, I felt even more disconnected than ever from what everyone seemed to love.

Enough whining though. Let me be clear - there was a lot worth hearing out there. A lot of albums I loved spending time with, even if they didn't quite knock my socks off in a way I'd hoped. Quite a few singles that emerged from unlikely sources and provided me with some stellar moments. I think the best music I heard this year surprised me in one way or another. I didn't think the played out Autotune thing (thanks T-Pain!) would actually produce some genuinely engaging music like Kanye's recent singles. I never thought Coldplay would have been capable of producing a genuinely exciting record that allowed them to keep their firm grasp on the mainstream listeners. I didn't expect Cut Copy to seduce me with their pop magic. After dismissing Antony completely, how was I to know that Hercules & Love Affair was the way to sell me on him? Who knew how great the hardcore gone progressive-jazz Fucked Up was? There was certainly enough out there to keep me entertained, if not completely blown away. Join me over the next coupe of days as a I present my thoughts on the best albums, singles, EPs, and compilations/reissues of 2008. Send me some feedback, I'd love to hear it!

As we move ahead, a quick look back at the past several years:

via//chicago's albums of the year 2003-2007
2003: Outkast - Speakerboxx/The Love Below
2004: Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News
2005: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
2006: Mastodon - Blood Mountain
2007: Battles - Mirrored

via//chicago's singles of the year 2003-2007
2003: "Hey Ya" - Outkast
2004: "Take Me Out" - Franz Ferdinand
2005: "Since U Been Gone" - Kelly Clarkson
2006: "When You Were Young" - The Killers
2007: "Stronger" - Kanye West

Dec 11, 2008





















Priming the Year End Pump


With the holidays approaching and 2009 lurking ominously around the corner, we are hitting every music nerd's favorite season - end of year lists! Mine won't be coming for a bit yet, but to get you in the spirit I thought I would toss out my list of best metal albums of year. Up first, is the list as it appeared in the issue of Metal Edge on newsstands now:

01. Meanderthal - Torche (Hydra Head)
02. Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1 - Nachtmystium (Century Media)
03. Life... The Best Game in Town - Harvey Milk (Hydra Head)
04. The Way of All Flesh - Gojira (Prosthetic)
05. Watershed - Opeth (Roadrunner)
06. Krallice - Krallice (Profound Lore)
07. Buried Death - Coffins (Southern Lord)
08. Death Magnetic - Metallica (Warner Bros.)
09. In the Future - Black Mountain (Jagjaguwar)
10. Conqueror - The Gates of Slumber (Profound Lore)
11. Acid or Blood - Racebannon (Southern)
12. Occasion - The Goslings (Not Not Fun)
13. Nude with Boots - Melvins (Ipecac)
14. War Metal Battle Master - Lair of the Minotaur (Southern Lord)
15. Board Up the House - Genghis Tron (Relapse)
16. Into Abaddon - Saviours (Kemado)
17. The Formation of Damnation - Testament (Nuclear Blast)
18. Live the Storm - Disfear (Relapse)
19. Slania - Eluveitie (Nuclear Blast)
20. An Overdose of Death - Toxic Holocaust (Relapse)

But, those lists were due waaaaay back in October, and I've heard quite a few decent metal albums since then and I've revised my list. Here's what it looks like now:

01. Meanderthal - Torche
02. Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1 - Nachtmystium
03. Life... The Best Game in Town - Harvey Milk
04. The Way of All Flesh - Gojira
05. Watershed - Opeth
06. Krallice - Krallice
07. Buried Death - Coffins
08. Death Magnetic - Metallica
09. In the Future - Black Mountain
10. Conqueror - The Gates of Slumber
11. Always A Six, Never A Nine - Black Elk (Crucial Blast)
12. Occasion - The Goslings
13. Twilight of the Thunder God - Amon Amarth (Metal Blade)
14. Acid or Blood - Racebannon
15. Prehistoricisms - Intronaut (Century Media)
16. War Metal Battle Master - Lair of the Minotaur
17. Board Up the House - Genghis Tron
18. The Formation of Damnation - Testament
19. Fogcutter - Fiftywatthead (Signed By Force)
20. An Overdose of Death - Toxic Holocaust

Not a whole lot different, but I just couldn't let my list stand without those awesome Amon Amarth, Fiftywatthead, Intronaut and Black Elk albums. To wrap up my year in metal, an alphabetical list of runners-up that I also really liked (those that didn't appear on either list):

Akimbo - Jersey Shores (Neurot)
All That Remains - Overcome (Razor & Tie)
Architect - Ghost of the Salt Water Machines (Metal Blade)
Blacklisted - Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God (Deathwish Inc.)
Boris - Smile (Southern Lord)
Clouds - We Are Above You (Hydra Head)
Death Angel - Killing Season (Nuclear Blast)
Deicide - Til Death Do Us Part (Earache)
Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull (Southern Lord)
Enslaved - Vertebrae (Nuclear Blast)
Gods and Queens - Gods and Queens (Robotic Empire)
Grand Magus - Iron Will (Candlelight)
Helms Alee - Night Terror (Hydra Head)
Hero Destroyed - Hero Destroyed (Relapse)
In Flames - A Sense of Purpose (Koch)
Medusa - En Raga SuL (Hawthorne Street)
Merciless Death - Realm of Terror (Heavy Artillery)
Meshuggah - obZen (Nuclear Blast)
Russian Circles - Station (Suicide Squeeze)
Saviours - Into Abaddon (Kemado)
Sothis - De Oppresso Liber (Candlelight)
Soulfly - Conquer (Roadrunner)
The Sword - Gods of the Earth (Kemado)
Unearth - The March (Metal Blade)
U.S. Christmas - Eat the Low Dogs (Neurot)
Witch - Paralyzed (Tee Pee)
Zozobra - Bird of Prey (Hydra Head)

And a special shout-out for completely not sucking as expected:

Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy (Geffen)

Dec 9, 2008





















np: "Stereo" - Pavement


In celebration of Matador continuing the outstanding reissue program they've put together for one of the most essential band of the 1990s, Pavement. Today saw the release of the fourth deluxe version of a Pavement album, this time the Nicene Creedence Edition of 1997's unfairly hated on Brighten the Corners. Bouncing off the sprawling, glorious mess that was Wowee Zowee, a lot of fans seemed to dismiss this as being too lightweight and accessible. Foolishness. Nah, this is Pavement tightened into the wickedly joyful pop band that was always trapped inside. The hook-laden opening punch of "Stereo" and "Shady Lane / J vs S" were just foolin' anyway, the real beauty is found on tracks like the graceful "Type Slowly" and the gently disintegrating "Starlings of the Slipstream". Really though, there isn't a bad track on this one and need to be liberated from the unfair reputation its gotten by some die-hard Pavement fans as one of their weaker efforts.

Anyway, click below for a couple highlights including one of the fantastic album tracks mentioned above ("Starlings"), a fantastic version of the song that was originally going to open the disc ("And Then (The Hexx)"), and the band having some fun with Adult Swim ("Space Ghost Theme II").

But honestly? I cannot overstate how important it is for you to rush out and pick this package up for yourself. Matador has knocked the ball out of the park again.

Pavement - "Starlings of the Slipstream" (taken from Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed.)
Pavement - "And Then (The Hexx)" (taken from Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed.)
Pavement - "Space Ghost Theme II" (taken from Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed.)

Dec 8, 2008





















np: "Det Tar Tid" - Dungen


I love it when a band that I think I have pegged tosses a curveball and spins their sound into something quite a bit different from what I expect, but not altogether removed from what I loved about them in the first place. Such is the case with the latest album from Swedish psych-folk-rockers Dungen. Well, I used the plural form loosely, as Dungen is 98% the work of one insanely talented man that goes by the name of Gustav Ejstes. I fell in love with Dungen's 2004 album (released here in 2005) Ta Det Lungt, which was a surprisingly fresh take on the oftentimes stale retro-psych sound. Besides the expected fuzzy guitar and cascading drumfills, Ejstes packed the album with tons of instruments and mind-beding detours. Last year's Tio Bitar brought forth more of the same, but the lengthier wanderings were tightened into surprisingly tuneful pop songs without sacrificing Dungen's signature sound. But this year's release, 4, tossed many of my expectations out the window. 4 is a much more subtle, jazzier affair full of brushed drums, gentle flute, and tons of piano. The guitar-drenched acid rock is toned back in favor of lounge suited acid jazz, but the album is all the more rewarding for it. Ejstes steps back significantly this time around, letting other musicians shine and shine they do - Johan Holmegard on the drums particularly. If you are looking for a great Sunday morning record with just the barest hint of psych-rock, you could do much worse.

(In all honesty though, I still love the guitar work of Dungen, showcased on this album by "Samtidigt 1", which sounds as if was yanked directly from some lost 1960s jam session tapes. Very nice.)

Dungen - "Det Tar Tid" (taken from 4)
Dungen - "Maleras Finest" (taken from 4)
Dungen - "Samtidigt 1" (taken from 4)

Dec 7, 2008





















np : "Satellites" - Longwave


Poor, poor Longwave. One of those bands that I've always been impressed with, but have never really seemed to catch a break in the mainstream. They were one of the many bands scooped up by the major-labels in the wake of The Strokes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs heyday, and other heavily hyped exploding out of the New York scene. Their second album, and first major release, caught a decent buzz on its own merits, but they always seemed to be outshined by the other names in their scene. Despite the attention paid to the "big" single, "Wake Me When It's Over", these guys faded quickly into the background.

A third album, There's A Fire, was produced by legendary Brit-helsman John Leckie and again received some favorable reviews, but from a continuingly dwindling list of supporters. It wasn't quite as solid as The Strangest Things, but I found myself returning to it time and again. I was alwyas surprised to not see their name pop up more often, but kinda happy to have them all to myself.

Thankfully, the band is still very much a going concern (despite the constantly revolving line-up and a variety of setbacks) and November just saw the release of their most recent album, Secrets Are Sinister. And what an album it is, packed with fuzzy basslines, propulsive drumming, and a fair amount of shoegaze fuzz. It recalls the best moments of The Strangest Things, while pushing the band's sound in exciting new directions. Another fantastic release from a perenially overlooked band. Maybe this album can help turn the trend around.

Check out a few of my favorites from the new one:

Longwave - "Sirens in the Deep Sea" (taken from Secrets Are Sinister)
Longwave - "Satellites" (taken from Secrets Are Sinister)
Longwave - "No Direction" (taken from Secrets Are Sinister)

Dec 5, 2008
























np: "Spaceboy" - Smashing Pumpkins


I've had this post in mind for several weeks now, but I've been a little hesitant to approach actually writing it down. Not because it's hugely controversial or mind-blowing or anything, but I... well, I guess I just wasn't ready to admit all this out loud yet. See, the thing is this. The Smashing Pumpkins have long been one of my favorite bands of all-time, since discovering them way back in about 1992-93 (just before Siamese Dream came out). I spent countless hours with Siamese and Mellon Collie spinning on my CD player in college, in fact the band got me through some relatively tough times. Sure, its cliche to look back now, but Billy Corgan's angst really resonated with me for a time. But there was always more to the band than unfettered rage and I willingly followed the band in new directions. Adore? I loved it. Still do, in fact. Machina? Took me some time, but I really grew to embrace that record as well. I loved a lot of things about the band and became a pretty hardcore fan, at least until the "break-up" in 2000 (but more on that in a minute). In fact, as my musical horizons expanded, the Pumpkins remained one of the few bands that I obsessively followed - collecting hours of bootleg concerts, tracking down compilation appearances, etc.

So why the hesitancy for this post?

Well, its become pretty clear over the past 18 months that this band is no longer for me. I gave the reunion a shot and there were some great tunes (few that made Zeitgeist, sadly) and decent shows. But really, this incarnation of the band has never really enthralled me in any way. I was okay with that though. I had my memories of the classic era and had all the discs and gigabytes worth of shows to relive them. My problem now is that Billy Corgan's recent treatment of fans and general shitty attitude is starting to sour me on the band completely. I'm finding it harder and harder to reach back for Gish or The Aeroplane Flies High without wincing, not because I've lost a taste for the music within, but because I can't help but picture the pale shadow of a band that exists today.

Way back in June of 2005, on the eve of the release of his first proper solo album The Future Embrace, Corgan took out full page ads in the Chicago area papers to announce that he was going to "renew and revive" the Pumpkins. And I'll admit it, I was thrilled for a hot minute. Zwan, his first post-Pumpkins project, had given me some great live shows but a lackluster album that left a lot to be desired. So the thought of my favorite band of all time back in the studio and on the stage? Awesome. But then the details slowly started to leak out. D'arcy wasn't going to be included. Fine, hardly surprising. No Melissa Auf Der Maur either. Okay, I liked her a lot - but I had to admit she really didn't bring a whole lot to the Pumpkins persona I loved. But the news that really gave me pause was that James Iha wasn't going to be a part of it. Wait... what? Despite what you think about the Pumpkins, it wasn't just Billy and Jimmy. A lot of those glorious little guitar fills that helped explode the songs into orbit? Yeah, those were James'. That was a big disappointment to me and the first sign that all wasn't quite right in Pumpkinland.

So we get Billy and Jimmy. Hmm, so how is this going to different from Zwan?

Fast forward to 2007 and the new album is imminent. "Tarantula", the lead single, hits radio and I'll admit to being pretty geeked when I hear it on Q101. Its no "Rocket" or "Zero", but I can feel it. And the first show since the break occurs in Paris. Within a couple days I've downloaded audio and video torrents of the show, just absorbing it all. All things considered, it was a decent show. They hit on a lot of the hits from the back catalog, including an extended jam on "Silverfuck" - always one of my live favorites. There's even this intriguing new jam called "Gossamer" that stretches on for twenty minutes. A couple of the new songs stuck with me, but I was mostly just happy to hear the old classics again. Maybe this reunion thing could be decent after all.

Then comes July 10, 2007 and the first in a disturbing series of ways Corgan craps on his fans (or allows his fans to be crapped on, depending on how you think it all went down). Zeitgeist is released to stores. But instead of being some sort of triumphant return, it all gets kinda confusing. Seems someone (Billy or the label, not sure who is ultimately to blame) decided that it would be a good idea to release four different versions of the album. There was the basic, 12-track, version that you could find at most stores. But, depending on where you bought it, you could be treated to a different bonus track. I believe Best Buy got one exclusive track, Target another, and iTunes yet another. Decent marketing, I suppose. But Pumpkin fans are nothing if not completist by nature. There were more tracks to hear? I gotta get 'em all! And Billy knows this. His interactions with the fan community, which has typically been very positive, acknowledged this - leaking demos, the whole Machina II thing, "accidentally" leaking the long lusted-after Mashed Potatoes rarities collection. So, in essence, he was forcing his loyal, die-hard fans to buy the same damn album three times to get all of it! Pretty shameful. Thankfully, I didn't fall for it. I picked up the regular version and *ahem* acquired the other tracks via the faithful internet. Take that, shady marketing! To add insult to injury, just four short months later the band released an "exclusive" version of the album with all the tracks included. Ridiculous.

Anyway, Zeitgeist. It was, and remains, a halfway decent album. If I'm feeling favorable. There are two great Pumpkins songs ("Tarantula" and "United States") and a couple that had potential, but disappointing production sinks them. Billy's vocals were mixed way too high and a lot of the guitars sounded muddy. Jimmy sounded the best of the bunch, but even his drums sounded a little muted to my ears. I figure it'll be an experience to see the band live, though. Surely a hometown show is in the works for the tour. But then they announce something kinda cool, extended residencies at two different clubs, one on each coast of the country. I didn't go, but I head positive things about the intimate nature of these shows and the decent new material coming out of them. I looked forward to finally catching them here in Chicago.

And... nothing. Rumors fly about a performance headlining Lollapalooza during the August festival season, but we get shot down in favor of a fest out in Baltimore. The band tours briefly in Europe and announces a two-month tour back in the States. Here we go! Hold up, still no Chicago show? Normal, Illinois gets a show - but the city that broke Billy gets no love? I was disappointed. Briefly considered driving down to Normal for the show, but I'd already grown bored with Zeitgeist and figured I'd wait for the inevitable local show. So I wait.

2008 comes in and the band releases a digital EP, American Gothic, that actually has me perked up and interested again. It's only four acoustic-based songs, but there's an inherent sweetness and a sense of melody that reminded me of some of the more intimate demos and early-era songs Billy wrote. I continue to look forward to seeing them live. They announce a Chicago area show, but it turns out to be a ridiculously priced concert at a casino in Hammond, Indiana. Still no live show for me. At this point, I've really gone beyond caring.

Then, this summer and early fall, the exciting rumors start to fly... a 20th anniversary tour! Multiple shows in each city, dedicating nights to certain albums and era. A Gish show! A Siamese Dream show! It was an exciting proposition. And they book three nights in Chicago, exciting. Then the rumors scale things back and its now merely a "celebration of 20 years of the Pumpkins" and the sole-album shows are postponed. I'm all set to finally see the Pumpkins for the first time in 9 years. Then I see the ticket prices. Couple that with the stalling economy and barrage of professional exams coming up for me, and I balked. Just couldn't justify the $90+ price.

Now that we're over a month into the tour, how do I feel about skipping out on the Chicago shows? I'm very, very grateful. This entire tour has turned into a shitstorm of embarrassment for the band and fans alike. Despite being billed as a "celebration of 20 years of the Pumpkins", fans are lucky to get much more than a handful of old tunes. Seems Billy'd rather play new stuff (fine), interminable 20-minute plus covers of "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (these have, from the ones I've heard, been admittedly hit or miss), and sarcastic, audience-baiting covers of "Everything is Beautiful" (wtf?!?). Critics and fans are loudly voicing negative opinions of the shows, and who can blame them? Don't bill a tour as a celebration of the past if you aren't interested in playing the old songs, of course the older fans are going to expect "Mayonaise" and "Today" and a myriad of others! But, true to form, Billy isn't taking the criticism lightly and has taken to firing back at the fans from the stage. Ultimate class Billy, insult the fans that just coughed up 90 bucks to watch you play. Pretty disgusting, even without taking into consideration the time he yelled a homophobic slur to the fan he invited on stage to air his thoughts on a show.

Billy has been so disappointed by the negative reaction that he has vowed to never play another old Pumpkins song again after this tour is finished. And, oh yeah, the era-appropriate box sets he promised to clean out the archives? Those are scrapped, as well as the album tours to support them, because his fans just aren't being respectful enough. Maybe these are empty threats from a frustrated guy throwing a temper tantrum, but nonetheless its a pretty shitty approach to take with your most loyal fans. "You don't like my new stuff? Fine, I'm never going to play the ones you like!" Corgan's negative view towards his fans has grown to worrying extremes in the past few weeks, but the seeds were there back at the residencies last year - as can be seen in the recently released If All Goes Wrong DVD. The documentary is ostensibly about a band embarking on an experimental period in their history, but is really about Billy writing songs in his hotel room (mostly boring) and Billy whining about the fans not liking his new stuff (extremely boring). He comes across as quite a bitter, entitled asshole in many of the interviews. He goes as far as "punishing" one San Francisco crowd for being inattentive by playing a forty-five minute instrumental.

(I'm purposely trying to avoid the whole argument about what is reasonable for fans to expect from a band and how an artist can/is expected to evolve while still satisfying fans, because that could turn into another whole long, laborious post. But to set the record straight, I'm all for Billy writing new songs. I'd love for him to give me another classic album. I'm all for his experimentation, hell... I followed him into Zwan and the solo era. But don't resurrect the ghosts of the past by invoking a beloved name if you hate being shackled to that name's history. If he'd have toured under any other name, even his own, he wouldn't have encountered even a fraction of the negative reaction he's gotten. Advertising the tour as a celebration of the band's past was only adding fuel to the fire he himself lit. But, I digress.)

Adding up his questionable at best treatment of fans over the last year and a half, then combining it with a severe lack of engaging new tunes - it's clear that Billy Corgan's best days are behind him. If he can prove me wrong, well, bully for him. But as I've read the fan sites and taken in the show reviews, listened to Billy moan and complain, waited in vain for some new songs to really grab me... one thing has been made clear...

The band that calls themselves the Smashing Pumpkins right now, just isn't for me. And I'm fine with that. I just wish Billy would drop the name, move on, and quit souring the good memories I've had of him and his music. Will I buy the next album? Sure, I'll probably give it a shot. And yeah, if the reissue vaults ever get opened, I'll dive right in. But I'll never care for this band the way I once did.