A personal view on music, all kinds of music.
Artist: James Iha
Album: Look To The Sky
Push Rewind, we’re back on 1998, Smashing Pumpkins was a succesfull band, but in crisis, and at that time, without a drummer, just like in their prime days. Jimmy Chamberlin was get himself in trouble in a big episode where the keyboard player that was playing in the backing band in the band’s tounr in 1996 died in an overdose and because of that was fired.
The band went on a creative hiatus and after one of the most brilliant albums in the Alternative Rock scene from 90’s, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995), Pumpkins was swimming drifting away.
Billy Corgan always have been the creative force behind the band, and never gave too much space to the others, and this includes James, that never had more than 2 or 3 tracks on the band albums.
Well, in 1998 he took all of his songs, put everything in a paper brown bag and decided that was time for he to do something with them.
In February 10th, 1998 was released Let It Come Down, 11 songs with acoustic tones that if don’t make it the perfect album, gets very close to that. Unfortunatelly, like in the majority of the cases, went away withouth much people noticing the album, mybe it was better that way…
Pumpkins would release an album in that same year, in June 1st Adore was released, an album that is divided into A and B, or you love it or you hate it.
Push Fast Forward… I was expecting his next album since 2005, when I find out about Let It Come Down. Being a Smashing Pumpkins fan I was really curious about his solo work, and still one of my favorite albums.
The guitar player was never born to stardom, shy by nature, he never make any effort to show off, but even being a quiet guy, he participated in a vast number of projects and bands. Is a bit unfair to say that his new album, Look To The Sky (2012), released in April 3rd, took 14 years to be released, it’s true, but unfair.
James wasn’t sit in his sofa all this time. In 2003 he wrote the soundtrack for the movie Luck, in 2005 he wrote the soundtrack for the movie Linda Linda and in 2009 the soundtrack for the movie Kakera. In fact, since the Pumpkins departure he never stopped. He participated on albums by bands like Whiskeytown, Fountains Of Wayne, Isobel Campbell, A Camp, Melissa Auf Der Maur (that was his band partner in Pumpkins in 2000), Ivy e Brookville.
He also played with A Perfect Circle between 2003 e 2006 and recorded 3 albums with them, recorded with the singer Vanessa St. James in 2005, and of course, he was part of the super altpop group Tinted Windows, that released in 2009 a homonimous album. In their line up we had James on guitars, Taylor Hanson (Hanson) in vocals, (Fountains Of Wayne) in the bass and (Cheap Trick) in the drums.
I had high hopes about Tinted Windows, but was nothing but a graceless pop record.
14 years! Look To The Sky (2012) was released with no word on the press by EMI, not even James website had something about the album when it was released. But here it is.
It’s no masterpiece, I can tell you that, at least not on the first listenings, James on this album is into variety, he follows his heart where he think he should go, without worry too much. This fact don’t bothers me really, on the contrary, I’m sure this is the kind of album that as you listen it growns on you. Of course the pretty and calm melodies of the 1st album are here, but don’t expect anything exactly like Let It Come Down, cause you’ll not find. Maybe this is the big positive point in Look To The Sky (2012)!
A pretty and laid back album, and I sense that this is one of those records that serve as background music, that ones that you put on while get busy with something else, or in the headphones while you work, it’s not that kind of album you listen with the booklet on hands. And maybe, again, that’s the big positive point of the album, specially in our days.
I can say that the keytracks are: ‘To Who Knows Where’, the first single and the pop perfection full of little noises, ‘Till Next Tuesday’ and its pop sensibility, the orchestral acoustic mix of ‘Dream Tonight’ and the one that reminds me most of the 1st album ‘Gemini’.
Even if it’s not the best album of the year, this was really expected by fans, it’s high quality and very well received for me, specially when we’re smashed by the atual pop music with Gaga’s and Rihannas. It’s always good to see a light at the end of the pop tunnel.
1. Make Believe (2:43)
2. Summer Days (3:35)
3. To Who Knows Where (4:18)
4. Till Next Tuesday (3:49)
5. Dream Tonight (3:14)
6. Dark Star (4:55)
7. Appetite (4:11)
8. Gemini (3:53)
9. Waves (3:38)
10. Speed Of Love (3:44)
11. 4th Of July (3:40)
12. A String Of Words (3:56)