Thursday, November 20, 2014

Album Review: Earth - Pentastar: In The Style of Demons

Earth open their third album, released in 1996, with the aptly named Introduction, where Dylan Carlson's layers of heavy guitar play a vaguely Screaming Trees melody (reprised at the end as Coda Maestoso In F(flat) Minor).  This track, like most of the others sticks to the Earth template of slow, head-nodding tempo with great slabs of heavy, repetitive guitars piled on top.  The 'feel' of the music takes precedence here over anything else. 

Carlson takes an understated vocal on the gloriously ragged, rough guitarfest of High Command and Tallahassee, which are both in a similar vein.  It's not oversamey either, Crooked Axis For String Quartet has a more ambient, widescreen feel and also the creeping, clean guitar of Charioteer is something else entirely.  Later they transforms Jimi Hendrix's Peace In Mississippi into a heavy Earth pounder.  Penulitmate track Sonar And Depth Charge is slightly out of step with the rest, consistingly mainly of two piano chords and little else over seven minutes.  But it doesn't quite derail the album, which is as solid an Earth album as anything else in their catalogue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Album Review: Smashing Pumpkins - Gish

Smashing Pumpkins' debut, released in 1991, opens with I Am The One, which is a kind of generic early 90s indie track.  That's not a criticism but apart from Billy Corgan's vocals it could be Lir or Jane's Addiction.  Siva on the other hand is an epic piece of work with driving guitars, a pounding beat and a classic yet modern feel to it.

What follows, however is even better.  The strangely mispelt Rhinoceros is a slow, loping track which builds up gradually, adding guitars.  Corgan totally owns this song with a perfectly pitched vocal.  It's an absolutely monstrous song with towering guitar from Corgan and James Iha.

Bury Me is a strong, heavy rocker while Crush and Snail are early attempts at those slow Smashing Pumpkins anthems they perfected with the likes of Disarm and Soma on Siamese Dream.  Later on, Suffer is a gloriously downbeat slice of, dare I say it, grunge with Tristessa acting as its faster counterpoint.  Final track Daydream sees bassist D'Arcy Wretzky take the vocals on a downbeat shoegazey tune with a hidden track tacked on that the end (I'm Going Crazy) for good measure.

But the high quality of this debut was a clear indication Smashing Pumpkins had arrived fully formed.