Listen Up: Smashing Pumpkins, Fiona Apple
This week in music
By Edna Gundersen, Brian Mansfield and Elysa Gardner, USA TODAYJune 18, 2012
The current lineup bears no resemblance to the original, save for founder Billy Corgan, the engimatic visionary whose creative engines are roaring with an intensity and creative pluck unmatched since his mid-'90s classics. On this 13-track continuation of his 44-song Teargarden by Kaleidyscope series, Corgan and crew unveil a battering rock assault on Quasar and a glorious electro-acoustic glide in Pinwheels before settling into the title track's nine-minute triptych of layered bliss.
The Gentle Giant returns after an eight-year recording absence refreshed and more essential than ever. While country's young bucks boast about their trucks and their tolerance for alcohol, Williams brings wisdom and tranquility to his musings about life, with Keith Urban, Alison Krauss and Vince Gill sitting at his feet like rapt disciples.
Fiona Apple is either the most painfully self-aware artist on the planet or a really artful tease. On her first album in seven years (the full title is 23 words long), the stark, willfully quirky songs warn us of the dangers she poses to herself and others. Of course, the faithful will hear her dusky siren call and happily take their chances.
As the Tony-winning Broadway adaptation of the film musical Once made very clear, Glen Hansard's distinguishing trait as a songwriter is a heavy-handed earnestness that you either adore or find insufferable. Hansard's solo debut does have some lovely, graceful moments, but most songs are weighed down by their preciousness and lack of melodic punch.
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