Pumpkins Reunion

When you read things like “Smashing Pumpkins ‘Reunion’ Record”, after first making sure that it’s not just a clickbait headline, you’d be forgiven for finding yourself with a musical hard-on. Alas, the bizkit is a bit limp now. Granted, this is not a full reunion – there’s no D’Arcy – but the other 3 dudes are there, so there was promise. For me this record wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Until track 4. Solara kicks ass. But that was the peak, and then everything went downhill again, and that was after pretty much forcing myself through the first 3 tracks to get there. I’ll come right out and say this is all on me. Understand, I have a serious psycho-musicalogical history with the first two Pumpkins records. I believe they may have altered my brain chemistry. Frankly I don’t know what to do with a modern-day Billy Corgan. He’s matured and so have I so logic says I shouldn’t be expecting ‘Gish’ from these guys again. Honestly, I wasn’t. But that’s what I wanted. I wanted ‘Gish’ with better production. Which admittedly is unrealistic. And selfish. Arguably, this is a good record. The production is on point, Jimmy back behind the kit is in excellent form and the songs are well composed and delivered (though I think some of them have too much synth/keyboards in ‘em, but whatevs.) I believe critics will call this a solid reunion record, and that’s probably a fair statement. For me, after listening to ‘Solara’ 6 times in a row (ok, and a few spins of ‘Marchin On’), I turned it off and put on ‘Gish’, basking fully in my retrogrouch status. They say you can never go home again, and that may be true, but it would seem you can still visit that trashed group house with the beer-soaked carpets where you lived for awhile any time you want. Don’t take it personally, it’s not you, Billy, it’s me.

OLP Live

OLP Live

Buncha years ago, I gave @lilsistor my old iPod full of a bunch of tunes. I’d forgotten what was on there. This OLP live album was on there and she stumbled on it and, though she wasn’t really a fan prior, this album resonated with her. It’s become a connection we share even though we don’t often see each other in person.

She’s had a bit of a rough go the past few years – kidney issues, dialysis and in the past few months several strokes that have made it challenging for her to communicate in addition to struggling with cognitive issues. Throughout it all, she remains positive and upbeat. She’s by far one of the bravest people I know and inspires me every day.

As I type this she’s waiting to go in for a heart surgery that will fix an anomaly she has that doctors believe will stop the strokes in the future. I spoke to her last night and she let me know that she had the album with her and would be listening to it in the morning – so I am too.

Yesterday I posted about music between me and the band. Cool thing about music is the mojo can flow in lots of other directions too.

Catching Up With Old Musical Friends

Our Lady Peace’s first record hit me like a bag of bricks. Unreal. Still a go to. Came out in1994?! Damn. I had a ‘relationship’ with this band before I was married. I’ve had a ‘relationship’ with this band longer than I’ve been married. Maybe this band influenced my decision to marry a Canadian. Them and Rush. There were, of course, other reasons I chose to marry my wife, but Canadian Rock seems almost as good as any of those.

OLP are touring this year with Matthew Good. Another Canadian man/band I have a long-time ‘relationship’ with. There’s a YouTube clip of a modern-day Raine Maida and Matthew Good visiting the archives of what used to be MuchMusic and watching videos of themselves from their first appearances on the network. It’s like visiting a house you used to share with 5 friends that’s now inhabited by someone else. It’s wistful, weird, nostalgic, sad, uncomfortable and creepy all at the same time.

I saw OLP at the 9:30 Club in DC on the Clumsy tour with my best friend at the time – a buddy that would later be my Best Man. I think maybe 250 people were there – 500 tops. Nuts. That’s my hipster ‘I liked ‘em before they were ‘uge – at least in the States’ – cred.

I dug subsequent records after the first one. Clumsy, Happiness is a Fish… We started to drift apart a bit with Spiritual Machines.

Then I completely lost them over the years. Chalk it up to the usual stupidity. I was ignorant. I still wanted ‘em to sound like Naveed. I completely refused to acknowledge that as I’ve grown as a person so has the band, we are now different people (in some respects, quite literally), but in some ways the same. Perhaps I didn’t want to acknowledge my ascent into adulthood. Even in musical terms.

Their new record popped up on Apple Music this week. I haven’t listened to anything since Spiritual Machines. Listening to Somethingness is like catching up with old friends. Neither one of us is the person we were for that first record anymore, and I’ve learned we shouldn’t expect that of each other. Further down this road we’re on, it’s been nice to run into ‘em again.

It really doesn’t matter if you think this record is any good or not. Or if I tell you that it is and you agree or disagree. At this point in our relationship, everything is between me and them.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Live/1975-85, 1986

All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood

I have to cop to being completely unaware of Bruce Springsteen prior to the advent of MTV. I was introduced via the ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark’ videos. Being the self-proclaimed music geek I am now, I’m almost ashamed to admit this – it seems blasphemous. I grew up in the middle class, predominately white suburbs, mostly on pop-rock radio, new wave, and I dabbled in prog-rock. I remember digging the 2 aforementioned tunes enough that when I heard the buzz about this box set being released, I thought it seemed like something I should check out. 

I still remember the packaging – I got the cassette version, 3 cassettes in the box, the liner notes – even then I’d never really seen anything like that. It had weight. Substance. This must be some important shit. I’ll admit, it took me a few listens to get into it. It wasn’t at all what I was listening to, save the few Bruce tunes that made it onto pop/top40 radio. 

At the time, I didn’t have a full appreciation for live music, live musicians and the magic that is conjured during a live performance. This introduced me to that. 

More so, I was blown away by the songs. I had no idea you could tell stories like that through rock music. These characters and stories that Bruce sang about were fascinating to me. They might as well have been from another planet. I can’t think of another record right now (there may have been some others) that first introduced me to the notion of a singer/songwriter. The narrative voice in rock/popular music and songs that could make me feel a full range of emotions as opposed to just ‘joy’ or wanting to ‘rock out’. 

In the years since, I’ve loosely followed Bruce’s trajectory and future releases. Strangely enough, I’ve never bought another Bruce record. Though I’ve never considered myself a huge *fan’, whenever I catch a new tune, or hear one of the old ones, I’m always struck with that, “holy shit what a well-written song” thought. There are songwriters that can totally transport you to that moment they’re singing from – Bruce is one of em, a master storyteller.

Listening to this for the first time today in probably 20-25 years at least and the stories are still there, timeless, unfaded by the passing of the years in between.