B-sides justify Smashing Pumpkins' success

Smashing Pumpkins

Pisces Iscariot

Virgin Records

According to the "alternative" music lineage, Billy Corgan follows directly in the footsteps of the late Kurt Cobain as the newly-proclaimed monarch of the progressive music stream. But does Corgan, the frontman and driving energy behind the Chicago whiners known as the Smashing Pumpkins, really give a damn about trite and obnoxious labels on his idol image and his music? After intense listening of Pisces Iscariot, the latest effort by the Pumpkins, chances are good that Corgan's defiance of those labels only fuels the creation cycle of even stronger ones.

After the climactic Siamese Dream frenzy that lasted nearly one year, the Pumpkins have broken through again in the form of their latest release, Pisces Iscariot, a collection of B-sides mostly comprised from Siamese hits and some taken from earlier efforts Lull and Gish.

Pisces starts off with "Soothe," a track taken from the U.K. release of the "Disarm" single from the gigahit Siamese Dream album. The lullaby and gallic acoustic plucks from Corgan's lonely guitar lend a storybook feel to the track.

"Frail and Bedazzled" thrusts aside "Soothe" as the second track on the compilation album. With in-your-face definitions of true Pumpkin alienation, dictated by vocalist Corgan, "Soothe" ironically destroys conventional songwriting formulas.

What gives Pisces its zest and depth is a track entitled "Blew Away." Guitarist James Iha wrote and produced this track which soothes those in hangover stages after Pumpkins frenzy on other, more aggressive tracks.

Pisces Iscariot is a worthwhile investment any way you slice up the pumpkin pie. Its harsh and bleeding musical inclinations on the part of Iha, Chamberlain, D'Arcy and Corgan have once again proven successful for Smashing Pumpkins. No matter how the album is seen, lyrical and musical epiphany or an attempt at corporate recycling of a gaining commercial band, Pisces Iscariot carries all the weight and depth one would expect from the boy wizard Corgan. Jason Fierstein

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