Review : Smashing Pumpkins - Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare
AbsolutepunkBilly Corgan, or so I have comprehended, has a holy trinity complex. That is to say, he can be defined by three separate types of vocal abilities; melodic, howling or moaning. And here on our second serving of Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, the menu is crammed with the usual three vocal options. But the four course meal is still pretty fulfilling; minus the horrid desert.
Enter electronics! Opening track “The Fellowship” is the breath of fresh air that this eleven EP’s long project has needed. It is absolutely sublime. The first ten seconds of electronic bliss contains the shock that disillusioned fans may have needed to shake them back from that comatose state and into their fan boy tomfoolery once more. The drumming and electronic combinations are a throwback to the days of Adore, but it still feels a lot fresher now. It is pretty easy to picture Corgan & Co. smirking away in studio at the knowledge that they have crafted something different, unlike a lot of Pumpkins songs in the last few years. On the chorus Corgan poses the question “Are you with us? Are you with us or against us tonight?” and after this effort we may all be finally able to shout “fuck yes” again.
“Freak” and “Tom Tom” continue the sonic efforts of the first EP with the opening of the former sounding quite reminiscent to the introduction of “Widow Make My Mind” from Vol.1. The fuzzy guitars on “Freak” intertwined with the excellent vocal musings are a constant pleasantry from the first listen to the tenth. The drumming again is flawless and harmonic with the addition of twenty year old Mike Byrne now evidently the right choice ahead of other established drummers such as John Dolmayan of System of a Down fame and Frank Lenz from The Lassie Foundation who also tried out for the vacant position. “Tom Tom” is another throwback to much of the Pumpkins past slower works with Corgan’s default squawk of the noise “OH!” making a return. The song essentially is a seasonal one with autumn being the subject matter presented in the narrative. “This sign of a solstice bare/Where autumn shows its truthful air/Is when I’m vowed to empty scare/The precious stars of morning prayers”...full text
ChartattackBilly Corgan's latest adventure, Teargarden By Kaleidyscope, is supposedly a 44-song concept album based on the Tarot, which is being released incrementally and packaged as four-song EP sets.
Considering the project's name, concept, and the fact that Corgan spent gobs of the last couple years forming a Sky Saxon tribute band called Spirits In The Sky that also featured members of the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Electric Prunes, one might fairly expect Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare to be a full-on psychedelic mind-melt.
Such expectations are a horrible mistake, though. Dropping in to see what condition Corgan's condition in doesn't reveal a nouveau mystic digging deep into a magical world. Instead, save for the summer of love vibe on "Spangled," much of The Solstice Bare will feel very familiar to anyone who's stuck with the Pumpkins after Adore.
While there are no outright "1979" softies, neither are there the screaming 'n' riffing moments of the early Pumpkins days. Kick-off track "The Fellowship" is the spiciest. Its line "Are you with us or against us tonight?" is surely a nod to those who've stayed true to the band this long. "Freak U.S.A.," meanwhile, feels like it intersects Green Day's present day what's-wrong-in-America rage with Arcade Fire's suburban ennui. "Tom Tom" has whiffs of the esoteric about it, but it'd still never match, say, the average Doors song for aspirational spiritualism...full text
AvclubIt hasn’t been easy being a Billy Corgan fan lately, what with all the obnoxious quotes (the recent one dissing Pavement via Twitter was particularly painful), the resurrection of the Smashing Pumpkins name with a bunch of hired guns, and 2007’s overcooked, overblown, ultimately mediocre Zeitgeist. Replacing the only other original member (drummer Jimmy Chamberlin) with a kid who was a year old when Gish came out, then announcing that the band’s next album would be a 44-song monster doled out piece by piece seemed to be the final straws, but something funny happened on the way to the group’s creative funeral: The album’s first EP collection, Teargarden By Kaleidyscope Vol. I: Songs For A Sailor, turned out to be pretty good. And would you look at this—Vol. II is even better, conjuring up the spirit and sound of Zwan, Corgan’s underappreciated, short-lived supergroup that ran with the Pumpkins’ best pop moves. Everything here is laid out fairly simply, and the relative restraint benefits all five songs, including “Freak,” with its thick, juicy guitar, the mid-tempo sing-along “Tom Tom,” and the acoustic vinyl-only bonus track, “Cottonwood Symphony.” It just sounds like he’s having fun playing in a rock band rather than getting bogged down trying to make some grand statement about where he fits into alt-rock’s history book, though the “Are you with us or against us?” line during the driving “The Fellowship” (which includes some nice space-odyssey keyboards) is a smidge troubling. Even so, Corgan seems to be headed in the right direction, and when was the last time anyone felt comfortable saying that?...full text
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