Hot Music For Hot People: Smashing Pumpkins “Violet Rays”

The Smashing Pumpkins “Violet Rays”
Defining the new Pumpkins era

By Aaron Binder

Media hype can build up a band and tear it down just as fast.  Darlings of the 90′s alternative movement, The Smashing Pumpkins, were megaliths of their day – with an appearance on The Simpsons they joined a very exclusive club of trend-setters.  Nearing year 2000 though, the media detected cracks and latched on – it signalled the end of the Pumpkins shortly thereafter.  Later on it became quite evident that bald-headed, lead guy, Billy Corgan had not only been writing but playing most of the music while recording.

Time can heal negative impressions though and that is exactly what has happened.  When Corgan finally decided to start producing music under the Smashing Pumpkins moniker again there were naysayers but as soon as the first finished songs started to trickle out under the ridiculously named but absolutely awesome Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project it would only be a matter of time before Corgan’s famous drive as a songwriter would kick in at 600 horsepower.

This brings us to the most recent Pumpkins album, Oceania. Stunning, beautifully layered as a good Pumpkins album is, and chock full of soul.  There’s an element to the album that screams the same honesty as earlier Pumpkins work, this time though it possesses the wholeness that maturity heralds.  This album is easily a top-10 of the year and certainly it should be on your list too.

There is, however, one standout track – a Solomon standing head and shoulders above every other – Violet Rays.  It speaks a language that flows into your ears much in the way a Spanish lovers heated breath whispers into your mind – elegant, smooth, and entrancing.  Layered guitar, booming drum splashes attack before receding into Corgan’s raspy, permeating voice.  There is a new element to discover every time you hit play on this track and where earlier Pumpkin’s may be defined by any number of songs, this one sums it up perfectly in the chorus –

Am I the only one you see?
Raised from the path of revelry

Welcome to the new Smashing Pumpkins, fans of the 90’s, you’ll be proud of what the project has become.




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