Billy Corgan and Company are slowly but surely delivering on a promise made. That promise is the epic Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, a 44+ song collection released one at a time for free via the Smashing Pumpkins website. Every 4 songs a new collector’s edition EP is released. Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Volume II: The Solstice Bare was delivered on November 23 in a decorative box including an ornate 12″ picture disc of “Cottonwood Symphony,” a bonus track separate from the 44 song collection. The previously released “Freak” and the latest, “Tom Tom” are the highlights along with 2 other damn good tracks in “The Fellowship” and “Spangled.” The former delivers a powerful declaration in the form of New Order meets 70′s prog-rock while “Spangled” is a tender gesture of infatuation drenched in Sgt. Pepper style whimsy.
“Tom Tom” sounds tame and mature at first listen with the acoustic intro and catchy chorus. Further review extracts the changes, stops, and signature wall-o-guitar that Billy champions so well. The guitar strums and building drums that bring the song back from the quieter parts is classic SP although it comes across more subtle and nuanced. The new songs are simple, brilliant and these releases serve as a chronicle of an evolving band (the band now records together vs. the old Billy and a drummer model). Now if they can work in a 10 minute epic here and sprinkle some hard charging rockers there this will be another exquisite SP collection.
Over the past 20 years or so The Black Crowes carved a niche as the quintessential American rock n’ roll band. They did this by studying and practicing to receive an honorary PhD from the School of Rock. The Crowes are students of the trade, learning from the songwriting nuance of bands like The Beatles, the honky-tonk swagger of The Rolling Stones, the glam and volume of Zeppelin, the guitar power of 70′s mountain rock from bands like, well, Mountain, the jamming blues-rock prowess of The Dead, and the southern grace of the Allman Brothers just to name a few obvious influences. They are able to harness all of this and adapt it to their sound and abilities to create their own vibe. They can be gritty, folk-y, loud, jam-y, intimate, and heavy. They were all of this and more during the 2-day stint in their hometown at Atlanta, Georgia’s famed Tabernacle.
The setlists from this leg of the tour are chronicled on the band’s Facebook page. Working from a grab-bag of what seems to be close to 100 songs this time out, they play an (semi) acoustic set followed by a fully plugged-in set night to night. Each evening can be any assortment of these songs played either acoustically or with ear-shattering volume. The cool thing about the BC’s is although they can improvise and take any tune on twists and turns with expansive jams, their songs are great rock songs at the core. The jam just adds life and vitality in the live setting. Saturday night’s show saw amazing variations of Amorica‘s “Ballad in Urgency” / “Wiser Times,” By Your Side‘s “Blackberry,” and Southern Harmony and Musical Companion‘s “No Speak, No Slave” and an absolutely colossal “Thorn in My Pride.” This song, one I’ve heard many times, turned into an epic, sweeping 20 minute explosion.
The band is a well-tuned machine at this point even if they seem more like a hit crew of professionals than a bunch of guys having fun in a band. There may have even been a little “tiff” between the embattled brothers’ Robinson before “Soul Singin’” as I could catch some evil glances and CR’s slamming of the mic stand on the stage during the opening lines. Chris’s voice is fantastic despite it being the end of the tour, Steve Gorman is a force on drums, Rich Robinson may be the best true rhythm guitar player on earth, and Luther Dickinson lays down some serious shit. He may not have the ethereal beauty and grace of Marc Ford, but he is bullet-proof and edgy. Luther seems to add a heavier, more grinding feel to the live shows.
The acoustic set was 90 minutes of varied material, but still semi-plugged in. The electric set was 100 minutes of raucous energy. It was almost too much rock (if that’s possible). The volume had my ears ringing and by the end of the night I felt nauseous (in a good way?) – not from alcohol, or the swirling plumes of smoke wafting throughout the night, but from the dazzling ferocity of the set. I see shows. I’ve seen Phish, I’ve seen Slayer (a lot) and I never really got punched in the gut this hard by rock.
Ok, Ok so I’m loving Warpaint. Although their name may be better suited for a hardcore metal act, they are an all-girl alternative rock band from L.A. Comprised of actresses, musicians in other L.A groups, and a former Chili Pepper for a brief time they flew quietly under my rock radar until this song, “Undertow” worked its way into my subconscious. Songs like “Elephants” from their debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, rock with heavy, hazy, psychedelic guitar fuzz and usually are the type to grab my attention first, but it is the sweet nouveau-Fleetwood Mac sound of “Undertow” that I can’t get out of my head.
As I anxiously await the next golden nug from the boys in My Morning Jacket I find myself digging deeper into their old stuff. “Tyrone” is originally an Erykah Badu number, I think, but Jim James adds his haunting take on the vocals while the band builds a stripped down (for MMJ) and straightforward rock nuance that breathes new life into it. The song appears on Chapter 2: Learning: Early Recordings with some raw demos and other oddball, but fantastic covers like Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me,” Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away,” and the Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls.”
Oh man. I haven’t thought about these guys in a while. The SoCal punk with a weird angst-y gang influence, turned thrash, then prog-metal, then funk-metal band is certain to shred Firestone with energy and volume. Although Mike Muir (the badass with the low-slung blue bandanna) is really the only original member, I’m sure the band he’s assembled can carry the load minus the insanely shreddy Rocky George (and his Pittsburgh Pirates hat) and now-Metallica bassist, Robert Trujillo (this guy is such a better fit for ST than Metallica).
I had this t-shirt!
“All I wanted was a Pepsi!” “I went to your schools / I went to your churches / I went to your institutional learning facilities” – As a middle-schooler ST’s “Institutionalized” is probably one of the most quotable songs I ever heard next to the Beastie Boy’s “Paul Revere.” The song captured the disillusionment, disenfranchisement, and overall alienation of the “tween” so perfectly, then turned everything on its ass by meshing punk sentiment with hardcore metal. Suicidal Tendencies are true punk / thrash / funk pioneers and definitely worth your Tuesday evening. With Head PE tonight @ 8PM.
Fucking great song. How do you NOT want to punch someone in the face after hearing this? This video marked a period of my youth where I wore Vans, white socks, blue jeans, and half shirts. Wow.
Swedish shoegazers, The Radio Department, released an album a few months back. Clinging to a Scheme is their third full-length release and features a spacey, relaxed, low-fi feel something like Wilco meets Saint Etienne at a chill wave concert. “Heaven’s on Fire” – not to be confused with the awesome single from KISS‘ 1984 album Animalize – is the second single, but I like “David.” It’s the first single and The Coolest Song Ever! … Right Now.
Thievery Corporation opened up the double headlining show and powered through a more uptempo set than usual. They were heavy on the reggae and the percussion, pumping up the large crowd for one of the most anticipated electronica shows I’ve seen. Thievery dug into tunes from Radio Retaliation like “Sound the Alarm,” “Radio Retaliation,” and “The Numbers Game” and peppered in classics like “Lebanese Blonde” and “Richest Man in Babylon.”
Massive lights up Hard Rock
Massive Attack brought a dazzling light show with lasers and a large multi-panel LED display than ran the span of the stage and was slatted like horizontal blinds. It displayed everything from subliminal worldwide brand logos to shapes and colors or real-time staggering statistics about how terrible the world is. I walked away feeling awful being a westerner – but whatevs!! It was a great show. They maintained their dark, brood-y sounding electronica and sometimes pushed to outright industrial rock.