Belong – Common Era

So this happened today.

I’m listening to that Belong album from last year and thinking, I really enjoy this.  Syrupy sweet drone-gaze pop, it’s like the ending to every JAMC song stretched out in slow motion.

I left that comment in an unrelated discussion and realized how taken I am with this sound and that I should probably share the sentiment.  So here it is.   As a fan of the band’s debut, October Language, I felt underwhelmed with the relatively more “conventional” approach of Common Era – at first.  The debut imagines a warm embrace between Fennesz style digital grain waves and the melodic structure of noise pop like My Bloody Valentine; there’s a romantic swoon to its rolling feedback clouds.  This newer album had the bald audacity to add drums, trim song lengths, and nearly decipherable vocals.  What were they thinking?  On second listen, possibly a year later, the true beauty of this work is finally hitting me.  I’m thankful the context had time to dissipate, that I could hear it with fresh ears.

There’s the propulsive kick of Joy Division and the roar of Boris in every track.  There’s a cumulative effect to the song craft in the way a sense of melody and narrative build up over the course of several minutes.  The mirage of canned drums behind a wall of brazen feedback fades to reveal ragged pop anthems and yearning dream time vocals.  It’s not revolutionary; it’s just executed perfectly.

Lead single Perfect Life.  Probably the catchiest track, but make sure to hear it all.  Some moments here stretch into bliss.

For fans of: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Fennesz, Joy Division, Tim Hecker, drone, rain

The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

This exists: a new Smashing Pumpkins album which is not terrible, not in the least.  The band whose output sustained my entire teenage existence is back (metaphorically) and making music worth hearing.  I was embarassed listening to 2007’s abysmal Zeitgeist, feeling my soiled adolescence paraded before the entire world.  I swallowed any hope for something better.  I basically hoped Billy Corgan would just euthanize the project and do anything else to spare us all.

And then this happened.  And it’s streaming here, introduced by Mr. Corgan himself.  Ladies and gentlemen, a new Smashing Pumpkins full length: Oceania.

In full disclosure, I am only now finishing up a first full listen and have yet to fully digest this new work.  I simply heard the opening salvo and got excited; I need to share this, shout the news from rooftops.  The quality is sustained throughout, and my strongest gut reaction is:  “milder cousin to Siamese Dream.”  The cohesive production wraps a mixture of new and vintage textures around signature Corgan guitar tones and vocals, yet pinpricks of welcome surprise dot most of the one hour running time.  Like all proper Pumpkins albums, it even ends on a typically dreamy note.

That’s all I have to say right now.  Enjoy?