Tuesday, July 17, 2007

And In The Eyes Of A Jackal I Say Ka-BOOM!

I'm really perplexed today. I just finished watching this new Smashing Pumpkins video for "Tarantula". The video itself is awful, which is disappointing, considering their previous penchant for beautiful videos in the past. It looks like one of those Eye Toy PlayStation 2 games, where a video camera puts you in a cheap video game. With a bunch of people who aren't in Smashing Pumpkins playing instruments behind Billy Corgan dressed like a referee at a Klan game of touch football. The song, except for the cartoon of a guitar solo at the end, was pretty good. If I were to hear this from another band, I'd probably say it was "awesome". But I should hate this, right? Billy Corgan is a HUGE douche, he fell off his game a long, long time ago, right? There's nothing different about this Smashing Pumpkins and the one that made the Machinas right? Billy didn't let D'arcy or James Iha actually play anything on the records, (you can totally believe that if you ever heard the Iha solo album... whooo). Then there was Zwan and the superbad solo album. A decade or more since this guy had "it". An Ozzy for the alternative generation, Corgan has been riding some inexplicable memory train to the bank.

I read the reviews, read what the new Smashing Pumpkins album was all about, and without hearing a second of it, dismissed it out of hand. How could this sound good? And wasn't I totally done with Corgan's annoying, whiny schtick? If I were to hear a band today, chanting "despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage", I would roll my eyes, right? And yet, I immediately went to the other room and grabbed some old Pumpkins records. And this shit is not bad. Dammit. So, have I been denying myself something great for the past handful of years that I've dismissed this band? What I love(d) about the Pumpkins in their prime was their eclectic nature, shifting effortlessly between some caustic faux-metal and what was my favorite ballad of the nineties, "1979". Though it doesn't really sound like a song about being a twelve year old, Corgan's age in 1979. I also hate Bryan Adams for that shit with "The Summer of '69" (he would have been 10).

I was really into the Smashing Pumpkins in middle school and the beginning of high school. I bought that box set of the Mellon Collie singles, I listened to them all the time until I became aware of Sonic Youth and Fugazi. That was the last time I actively listened to Smashing Pumpkins. I have to say that this is refreshingly not as bad as critical hindsight makes it out to be. The new album sounds like it could be a different story. If the whole album is like "Tarantula", I don't think I'll be able to hang with it. I can only take Corgan's hard rock singing for a short span of time, it needs to be interrupted, there needs to be things happening in the song besides rocking out as hard as you can, to prove you can still do it. There are about ten seconds at the end of "Tarantula" where things get spacey, only to be interrupted by that god awful guitar solo.

Just for a trip down memory lane, here are some of those great Pumpkins videos from (cliche alert) when MTV actually played videos...

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