Sunday, December 18, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (remastered deluxe edition)

Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (remastered deluxe edition)
Capitol Records/EMI Music

It seems like a lot of bands are going back to their roots, or successes. When U2 finally made it onto the Glastonbury stage this year their set list was a homage to the 20 year old Achtung Baby and Joshua Tree numbers. Counting Crows recently re-released their breakthrough debut August And Everything After as a live album. Countless other bands have recently re-formed, often to play their most successful albums in their entirety.

So it comes as no surprise that Smashing Pumpkins, and front man Billy Corgan, who have struggled recently with new releases should fall back upon the beginning and breakout of their fame - 1991’s debut album: Gish and their phenomenal follow up release - 1993’s Siamese Dream.

These two deluxe re-issues are beautiful presentations. Each comes with the following:

1. Deluxe versions of Gish and Siamese Dream will each include a bonus disc of rare and previously unreleased audio content.
2. Deluxe versions of Gish and Siamese Dream also contain a never-before-released live show from the Metro in Chicago on DVD. The 10-song live show in the Gish package is from 8/25/90; the 17-song live show in the Siamese Dream package is from 8/14/93. Both DVDs feature introductions by Joe Shanahan, owner of the Metro in Chicago.
3. The Gish bonus disc will include brand new Butch Vig mixes of the original Sub Pop single tracks “Tristessa” and “La Dolly Vita.”
4. Housed in special lift-top box packaging, the deluxe versions feature liner notes and track by track commentary from Billy Corgan, never-before-seen collages and photos, postcards and more.

The boxes really are a treasure trove for a Pumpkins fan packed with more information about the records than you could possibly ask for.

Smashing Pumpkins had always been popular in their native Chicago and had built up a large following through Gish, but when gruge and indie music took off in the early ‘90s they had a chance to become superstars. As Billy Corgan explains in the expansive booklet, the record company wanted to re-release Gish for the masses but Corgan stubbornly explained that what they really needed was a new album. He had better learn to write some pop songs.

This was a good choice. Revising Gish now, confirms that it starts off with good songs like Siva and Rhinoceros but pads the rest out with filler material. It has the roots of the Pumpkins - big guitars, good riffs and Darcy Wretzky’s strong basslines. It was only the start of Corgan’s songwriting journey.
The booklet intricately chronicles the difficult writing and recording of Siamese Dream. An album which almost destroyed the band, and almost ended Billy Corgan’s life, as sung about on Today.

Siamese Dream was and still is an excellent album. The remastering vividly brings the hits to life adding punch, emphasis and energy to already great recordings. Cherub Rock has to be one of the greatest album openings ever with that timeless riff building and building before finally exploding. The rest of the album has many familiar hits - Today, Disarm, and Rocket, all sounding better than ever.

The rarities will please devoted Smashing Pumpkins fans and is an interesting diversion but will probably not use up much of your airwaves after an initial listen. A lot of the demos have been featured before on Pisces Iscariot and there are some other versions - such as a 6 minute version of Siamese Dream itself, and some instrumental songs called USA and USSR.

The DVD however is well worth a watch. Never before released it shows the band at the Metro club in Chicago at the launch for Siamese Dream. While the picture quality isn’t great, the sound recording is perfect and shows a high energy, moshing sweaty performance. Billy Corgan is relaxed, chatting to the crowd and plays some wonderful solos.

All in all these deluxe versions are a must for any Smashing Pumpkins fans (Siamese Dream especially) and if you have never listened to the Pumpkins before they may well be a good introduction. But try their greatest hits record - Rotten Apples first.

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Ryan Adams

If you were thinking about buying Ashes and Fire this week is a good time to do it. Amazon has the album as the £3.99 album of the week. Click on the above link to download. In more news Lucky Now has a new music video:


 North American tour dates: 10/10 Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Temple 10/11 San Diego, CA - Balboa Theater 10/13 Big Sur, CA - Henry Miller Library 10/14 San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theater 10/15 Napa, CA - Uptown Theater 10/17 Santa Cruz, CA - The Rio 10/18 Sacramento, CA - Crest Theatre 10/20 Eugene, OR - The Shedd 10/21 Seattle, WA - Benaroya 12/2 Philadelphia, PA - Academy of Music 12/4 Baltimore, MD - Lyric Opera House 12/6 New York, NY - Carnegie Hall 12/8 Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre 12/10 Toronto, ON - Winter Garden Theatre 12/11 Chicago, IL - Cadillac Palace 12/13 Minneapolis, MN - State Theatre


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire review

 Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

 Pax Am

October 2011

Ryan Adams' new record, Ashes and Fire is out Monday and I think you should listen to it.

I know, he has tested his fans a lot in the past. His emphasis has seemed to be more on quantity than quality since his first two epic releases - Heartbreaker and Gold.

2010's III/IV only confirmed that suspicion. iTunes tells me that I have only listened to two of the songs on that record twice, and I'm a big RA fan! I was concerned we had lost the old Ryan.

Early reports are that Ashes & Fire is a real return to form.

As you probably know a while back Ryan declared that the Cardinals had broken up and that he had quit music for good. Thankfully he hasn't. What he has done is sobered up, cleaned up and found his head.

This record comes from a much more peaceful place without a lot of the negativity that could be felt on "29" and "Love is Hell. That's not to say that this is a chipper album, but rather that it is mature. The big guitars have gone and the acoustic guitar is back. Almost all the songs feature Ryan and his guitar with some sparse piano and occasional accompaniments. It allows his voice and songwriting to shine through. Producer Glynn Johns has got the best out of him.

The single, "Lucky Now", is also the stand out track on the album. On it Ryan adresses the death of his former Cardinals band mate and also looks back over the years and how he is changed when he sings:

 "I don't remember were we wild and young?/
 All that has faded in the memory/
I feel like somebody I dont know/
Are we really who we used to be?/
Am I really who I was?"

It is an exceptional track, but unfortunately the whole album does not live up to that standard. It is good, but not as good as he has made in the past.

The album opens with a great number, "Dirty Rain" which sounds like it could, with a bit of fiddle, be a Whiskeytown track. Equally it could have come from Jacksonville City Nights. Norah Jones again makes an appearance which leads to more comparisons with City Nights. Next up is the title track which steps it up a gear before the second best song - "Come Home". Sung over a fingerpicked guitar it features a beautifully simple refrain sung through Ryan's hushed delicate vocals as a little pedal steel fills out the sound.

Elsewhere "Chains of Love" is great and Rocks is solid but a lot of the other songs blur into each other without necessarily grabbing your attention. It is not as good as Heatrbreaker or Gold but it certainly shows Ryan Adams heading in the right direction. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it and will continue to. I hope it represents a return to Ryan's strengths and perhaps the next record will rise above his already considerable achievements.

Rating: 7/10

Bushmills - Since Way Back

Bushmills Irish Whiskey is close to my heart, as just down the road from where I grew up. It is one of the oldest names in spirits with more than 400 years of distilling tradition behind it. A while ago it collaborated with musicians in a program known as "Since Way Back". Well Since Way Back is back. This time Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, actor Elijah Wood, and the return of electrofunk duo Chromeo to its family. "Since Way Back" was initially developed in early 2009 to celebrate the close friendships and camaraderie shared between lifelong friends in New York. This expansion also signals the launch of "Since Way Back" in Los Angeles with new friends Brendan and Emmett Malloy, music, television and film directors who have directed videos for bands including Oasis, The White Stripes, and Blink 182; and well-known graphic design artist Geoff McFetridge of the Beautiful Losers exhibition. In Boston, founders of local authoritative sneaker shop Bodega have joined the group; and Brooklyn rapper, songwriter and producer Theophilus London and Michael Williams - founder of renowned style blog A Continuous Lean will return to represent New York. "Since Way Back" is inspired by the heritage of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and its longstanding tradition of recognizing enduring kinship. The initiative celebrates the lives and brotherly relationships of artists and influencers across the world, and collaborates with each to produce creative, inspired content that reflects each of his passions. Upcoming content will include custom pieces of music and art developed by each group, and will serve as an additional venue to remind others to please drink responsibly. Check out for additional announcements and collaborations throughout the year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Stream Ashes & Fire - the new Ryan Adams album

So I have been listening to Ryan Adams' new album for a few days and I have to say I really like it. It has been compared to Heartbreaker in that it is mostly acoustic but really it sounds like a lot of the Jacksonville City Nights material coupled with some Love as Hell material, but not as dark. You can listen to it for yourself:

Due out Oct. 11 on PAX-AM/Capitol, Ashes & Fire has already received much praise. Those who listen to Ashes & Fire from the official site ( will also have access to stream four additional songs (not on the album), including "Come Home" ( In-Studio Acoustic Version), "Rocks" (In-Studio Acoustic Version), "Wasted Years" (In-Studio Acoustic Iron Maiden cover NEW recording) and "Down in a Hole" (Alice in Chains/previous 7" b-side).

Ashes & Fire on iTunes

*Limited Edition deluxe packages are available directly from Pax-Am records here

Watch a Live In-Studio Performance of Title Track "Ashes & Fire"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ryan Adams interview in The Guardian

When Ryan Adams heard Laura Marling's album "I Speak Because I Can" he "literally threw out threw out 80% of what I had. And it felt good, to ask: 'What am I really capable of?' I felt competitive again to write great songs." Read a great interview with Ryan speaking about his past on speedballs and booze to cleaning up and recording what might be the best album of his career. Read it here

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

 It's been a while in coming (I'm not counting III/IV as it wasn't a 'proper' album, rather a series of outtakes, and not a very good series at that) but Ryan Adams finally has a new album.

 It's not a Cardinals record, it's not a 'it's actually Ryan Adams & The Cardinals but the record company thinks it will sell better if we leave the Cardinals out of the title like Easy Tiger record, it is in fact just Ryan. Mostly acoustic.

Think Heartbreaker.

That's right, Heartbreaker. Probably Ryan Adams at his best.

Ashes & Fire was produced by Glyn Johns, a legendary producer renowned for his work with the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Clash, The Who and The Rolling Stones. You have probably heard of his son son Ethan who produced previous Ryan Adams albums Heartbreaker, Gold and 29.

He has pedigree.

The press release claims that "From the slow burning stunner of an opener "Dirty Rain" through the infectious shuffle of the title track and irresistible harmonies of "Lucky Now," to the closing lament of "I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say," Ashes & Fire is arguably the most cohesive and beautiful album of Adams' distinguished career."

 A review is coming soon, and from what I've heard of the album I have no reason to disagree.


 In studio acoustic version of Ashes & Fire: In studio acoustic version of Dirty Rain:

 Invisible Riverside Invisible Riverside by ryanadams
 Lucky Now Lucky Now by ryanadams

 Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire is out October 11 on PAX-AM/Capitol.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Free Sigur Ros live mp3 download

Sigor Ros are back with a new live double CD and film.

It's called Inni and as a treat you can download "Festival" live from the album HERE

The track list is as follows:

Ný batterí
Vid spilum endalaust
Med blódnasir
Inní mér syngur vitleysingur


All Alright

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bon Iver - 2 music videos

The new Bon Iver self titled record is excellent. It is easily my record of the year so far. The songs are expansive and magical, fleshing out the sound he pioneered on "For Emma, Forever Ago".

There are now two music videos, one for Calgary, one of the best songs on the album, and the other for Holocene.

I found the Calgary video amusing, it's quite amateurish, like the director had been watching a lot of Sigur Ros videos, perhaps a bit grandiose.

Anyway, enjoy them.