My Morning Muse Pit (and James Iha)
This week in the world of alternative has been rather sparse pertaining to music news. However, that is not to say that there are not some exciting things happening.
First off, Muse has unfortunately pushed back the release of their sixth much anticipated studio album, The 2nd Law from September 18th to October 1st. However, coupled with this disappointing news, released recently on Muse’s official website, is some of the good variety: the band will be releasing their first single from the album, “Madness,” on August 20th.
By now everyone has heard their single “Survival,” as it is, of course, the official song of the 2012 Summer Olympics (but not from the album, as their website clearly states that “Madness” is the first single from The 2nd Law). I’m not exactly happy with it, but hopefully the rest of the album will be just as fantastic as the majority of their other music.
Other than news about the release dates upcoming album/single, the band also released the official album art for The 2nd Law as well as the complete 13 song tracklisting:
3. Panic Station
6. Follow Me
9. Big Freeze
10. Save Me
11. Liquid State
12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
13. The 2nd Law: Isolated System
In an interview with NME the band discussed much of their new music, addressing the rumors that it would be an exclusively dubstep production and more. Apparently, the music sample from the official trailer for The 2nd Law, which features some dubstep toward the end, comes directly from the twelfth track on the album, “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable.” About the track Matt Belamy admitted that it was inspired by the music of Skrillex and other EDM producers. He explained the decision to make a track featuring dubstep by saying:
”The moshpit has moved from guitars and gone towards the laptop, so with that song we’re trying to see if we can challenge the laptop. We created something that was dubsteppy but we wanted to see if we could do it with real instruments. We wanted to ask,’Can rock bands compete with what these guys are doing?’”
I’m not sure if I’m a fan of the decision, as not only is dubstep pretty ridiculous (especially that of the Skrillex variety), but the ‘dubstep’ that Muse has apparently created with their instruments doesn’t sound all that good regardless of how one feels about the genre. Again, hopefully I will be proved wrong, but all I know is that I am certainly more excited for the songs that channel the genres of opera, symphonic rock, and synth pop as those styles are more in line with the Muse that I know and love. Another aspect of the album that I am looking forward to is the debut of bassist Chris Wolstenholme on lead vocals for two of the songs, “Save Me” and “Liquid State.” Apparently Wolstenholme was inspired to write the songs by his battle with alcoholism, which apparently was recently worsening to the point where he considered the situation to be a matter of life and death. I can’t imagine that tracks that dig so deep can possibly be bad. Here’s hoping that they, and the entire album, will be good.
The next piece of news comes is kind of a mix of good news and bad news. James Iha, the co-founder of, and one-time guitarist for, The Smashing Pumpkins, released his first new album since Let It Come Down in 1998 in Japan back in March. The album’s title is Look to the Sky and, from listening to the first single off of the LP, “To Who Knows Where,” it seems as if it may be a great success. With any luck it will be better than Oceania, the “Smashing Pumpkins” latest release, which I personally think only has one and a half really good tracks out of thirteen (click here for my in-depth review of Oceania).
I am certainly happy that James Iha is making music again. Billy Corgan is not. Here comes the bad news. Or really, just kind of sickening news.
Apparently in an interview with Howard Stern back in June, Billy Corgan, like the dramatic, egotistical, and explosive man that he is made these comments about James Iha:
“He never consulted me. He never asked even for my advice as a friend, like ‘what do you think of these songs?’ As soon as I heard the album, I had about 40 comments for him that I thought would’ve improved his album. Because I would’ve been the friend that would’ve said you could use a better lyric there. I would probably would have even shadow wrote some of the stuff for him and never would have said a word because I would want him, even just for the business, to make a good album.”
Going even further, Corgan, in an interview with NME said, ”James Iha I think is just a piece of shit. I think he’s one of the worst human beings I’ve ever met in my life.”
I love old Smashing Pumpkins music. But god do I hate Billy Corgan for his rants and ravings against other people and establishments. He has recently slandered Radiohead, Pitchfork, and now has moved on to his ex-band member.
And yet apparently Billy Corgan himself can do no wrong.
Let’s move on to something more appetizing: Passion Pit’s new music video for the third single off of their recently released sophomore album, Gossamer, entitled “Constant Conversations.” Although not as awesome as their video for the second single “I’ll Be Alright,” released a couple weeks ago, I definitely like it.
I’m not exactly sure why they recruited The Last Picture Show director Peter Bogdanovich to be one of the characters in the video, but hey, don’t knock it til you try it. The video features snakes slithering out of bathtubs, disparate homo and heterosexual affairs, and a general edginess that has become pretty characteristic for Passion Pit.
Directed by Dori Oskowitz who has previously done work for Wiz Khalifa, Cee Lo, and Ke$ha, I particularly like the scenes where Angelakos is depicted singing. Generally I don’t like a blend of both conceptual and performance footage, but here it works well, mostly due to the evocative nature of the lyrics of the song and how personal they seem to be to the lead singer. I believe that the real strength of Gossamer is rooted in the album’s lyrics, which deal largely with some of Angelakos’ recent struggles. Thus being able to witness the effect that singing out his soul has on him makes the video quite powerful.
My last piece of news isn’t so much news as it is simply something beautiful that I would like to share with you. I had the pleasure to attend the Newport Folk Festival last Saturday where I got to see some great music by Deer Tick, Spirit Family Reunion, Blind Pilot, The Alabama Shakes, Dawes, Iron & Wine, and more. I met Brittany Howard, Heath Fogg, and Zac Cockrell from The Alabama Shakes and got the chance to tell Sam Beam of Iron & Wine just how much I love his music (he told me that he liked my tattoo and I nearly swooned).
However, even better than meeting The Alabama Shakes and Sam Beam (OK, maybe on part with meeting Sam Beam) was witnessing My Morning Jacket perform a set live.
It was incredible. Connor Oberst came on stage. So did Brittany Howard, Laura Veirs, and Ben Sollee. When the show got shut down after a mere 72 minutes (the band is known to play for as long as 3 hours, no matter what is planned for them), I don’t think that I was the only person that was considering rioting (that’s a joke, but I was pretty upset). I won’t say more about the performance, as there aren’t really words that can describe just how incredible it was. All I know is that Jim James is an angel. And I love My Morning Jacket.
I think that you will agree after you watch the entire set, kindly put on YouTube by the folks at the Folk Fest (best song, EVER, starts at about 35 minutes in: “Dondante” from Z. It is incredible and has a sax solo). Check it out here. Enjoy!