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Jun 302011
The New Smashing Pumpkins

The New Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins have never been the best visual artists. None of their videos are particularly cool. “Rocket” is one of my favorites because it is whimsical and kind of strange. “Tonight Tonight” gained all the acclaim and it does look pretty good, but its not my favorite song. “Stand Inside Your Love” is most visually exciting and artistic interpretation of an SP song to date. “Bullet,” “Zero,” “That’s the Way,” “Tarantula,” “Today,” and most others are just an excuse for me to listen to the music, but fall short as visual companions. For me, besides “Stand Inside Your Love,” the best video might be Jonas Akerlund’s “The Everlasting Gaze” because it is intense and showcases the band actually playing music without an overarching story line. They are so technically fierce at times that I just want to see Billy play guitar and Jimmy (or Mike) play the frenetic drum patterns heard in the songs as in the unofficial video for “Ode to No One.”

The Pumpkins just released a short film directed by Robby Starbuck for “Owata” – the first since Akerland’s second video and short film about derelict youth addicted to heroin in “Try, Try, Try” – a video that synchs up better with the music. This is such a sweet and dynamic little song – one of the Teargarden by Kaleidyscope releases – that the film detracts from it. I know Billy is a big wrestling fan and this movie is part fan boy love letter, part symbolic tale of the Pumpkins starting over after being shafted by management and fans, but the subject matter would have been better suited for the “G.L.O.W” video. It works because A) it is also the acronym for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and B) the power and heaviness of the song flows better with the elbow-dropping, body slamming action of wrestling. The condensed music video version soon to be released may fare better as a companion to the song than the short film.

Either way I’m holding tight for the album-within-an-album, “Oceania,” a component of the ongoing TBK effort that has the blogosphere alight with stories of Billy breaking out the big, old-school Pumpkin guitar tricks, all 4 members of the band working together to write and record, and the return to the loud and pretty sound that they do so well.

Jun 282011
Macabre Vaudeville

Macabre Vaudeville

OK, so the Tiger Lillies aren’t exactly “party” “music.” In fact, I routinely get yelled at by present company any time a TL song comes up in rotation. I can see how one might find the shrill falsetto of Martyn Jacques a bit grating, but they are so eerie, so macabre, and so darkly funny that I can’t help but love them. Around Jacques’ voice is his ever-present accordion, making the music seem like a ghostly echo from another era. It is accompanied by Adrian Stout on stand-up bass and Adrian Huge on percussion.

They possess this creepy, Something Wicked This Way Comes feel in their music; a horrific 19th century carnival vibe or the soundtrack for a nursery rhyme. Not the sugarcoated modern versions of nursery rhymes, but the dreary and awful stories of disease and death that often spawn these tales. The songs are modern, but I can’t help recalling bleak Dickensian scenes of urban squalor and despair when I hear them.

They have songs like “Heroin and Cocaine” which chronicles a school boy’s addiction and eventual death, “Larder” about  a dead body decaying in a larder, “QRV”-  a story about this mysterious drug that the whole town is abusing and dying from, “Johnny Head-in-Air” about a young boy being decapitated, and so many more including “Whore,” “Besotted Mother,” “Shockheaded Peter,” “Sodsville,” and “Hertha Strubb” about a young missing, girl feared to be dead. Their discography is long, forming in 1989, and all creepily awesome.

Snip Snip” appears on Shockheaded Peter and Ad Nauseam. It is the story of a young boy that sucks his thumbs despite his mother’s stern warning that the tall tailor man will snip off his thumbs if he doesn’t stop. Well, he doesn’t stop and the tailor man busts in the door and … well, you’ll see.

Snip Snip by The Tiger Lillies

Read my interview with Martyn Jacques of Tiger Lillies and a Review of a Tiger Lillies concert in Tampa

Jun 142011

graveyard-band_kisses-and-noise_music-blogAt first listen, this sounds like a Zeppelin / Sabbath inspired southern rock band: power riffs, whiskey-soaked and blues-y vocals, and a bare bones, retro presentation. On further inspection these dudes are Swedish, which explains the glib band name. The fact that they’re Norwegian (actually most of the defunct stoner metal band, Norrksen) and totally rock excuses them from stealing their name from a midwestern middle school metal band.