Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania: For the past decade or so, Pumpkins leader/ dictator Billy Corgan had lost the plot.
Eventually every original member left the band or was kicked out, and it seemed to me, a longtime fan, the reign of the once mighty band was over for good.
I was hesitant to give this album a try, but promising reviews, telling of a new band and resurgence of creativity eventually drew me in.
Back are the loud, buzzing wasp electric guitars, a signature Corgan move he should’ve never abandoned; the songwriting, the jarring, sweeping dynamics and an amazing band to carry the tunes onwards.
My favourites are The Celestials and Glissandra, but the album of 13 songs holds together as a cohesive whole, and is an encouraging step back towards the Pumpkins classics of the ‘90s. Rating: 7/10
Baroness – Yellow and Green: Georgia rockers Baroness have maintained a metal, progressive and hard rock slant over their last two albums, touring relentlessly across the globe for years.
On their latest, they veer heavily where before they only hinted at, in a move that has divided longtime fans, but will surely gain them more in the long run.
A massive double album, Yellow delivers more familiar textures, though their thrash metal leanings have been tempered, and they’re singing a lot more than screaming. The nine songs are a tasty package of well-crafted tunes, full of hooks and excellent playing.
Green dials up the Zeppelin III vibe in full, offering another nine songs of a more acoustic, ballad variety.
Shades of Pink Floyd and early Genesis poke through, and the listener is guided on an epic sonic journey.
A friend described it as a “summer album; cruising, accessible, subtle. Great breakdowns,” and I completely agree. It’s an 18 song album that never gets boring. Rating: 9/10
Purity Ring – Shrines: Even before their album came out, Canadian duo Purity Ring were making waves all over the Internet, and booked to play the biggest summer festivals across North America.
Megan James and Corin Roddick are Edmonton natives, and previously played in a band together; after messing around with electronic beats and textures, Roddick emailed James an early version of a song for her to put some vocals on.
The results were amazing, and he knew immediately they had to pursue this project. The first two singles Ungirthed and the haunting Belispeak were released in 2011, to positive reviews; the skittish keyboards, sparse percussion, and thumping bass lines are a perfect backdrop for James’ affected voice and dark, strange, and personal lyrics. Signed to 4AD and Last Gang Records, Shrines came out July 24; to date it’s earned rave reviews, entered the U.K. charts, and is in the Billboard Top 30.
Their live show features the duo wearing James-designed clothing, with her on enchanting vocals, and Roddick playing a custom-designed percussion rig connected to lighting.
You can see for yourself on September 8 at The Royal, and keep an eye out here for an interview. Rating: 8.5/10.