Here's a look at new music out this week.
The Smashing Pumpkins "Oceania"
“Oceania” originally was to be released last fall. No explanation was given for the delay, which Billy Corgan tweeted about late last year. But the album was worth the wait in terms of making the Smashing Pumpkins a viable rock band regardless of what random musicians are playing with Billy Corgan these days. “Oceania” is part of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope” project. The band started releasing songs from the project one-by-one online in 2009. Now it looks as though the band once again is putting out albums instead of being an Internet-only project. “Oceania,” while grandiose at times, isn’t too over-the-top like some other Smashing Pumpkins albums in recent memory. “Oceania” has some truly sincere moments, too. “One Diamond, One Heart” is a pure love song with Billy Corgan assuring “I’m always on your side.” Other touching moments are sprinkled throughout. Unfortunately, the sincerity is lost in the 9-minute title track placed halfway into the album’s sequence. The song features a mix of alternating keyboards, bells, acoustic guitar and pounding drums before plugging back in for an extended guitar solo to wrap things up. That’s a lot of elements to package in one track. Corgan and his random band of replacement players fail to find a way to smoothly bring it all together. The Smashing Pumpkins are at their best when the songs are concise. “The Chimera” isn’t as complex and, therefore, is a much better song. The track also helps prove the Pumpkins haven’t lost that familiar wall of guitar sound no matter what names fill the band’s roster. “Inkless” follows a similar path and has that classic Pumpkins sound. “Oceania” isn’t perfect by any means. But it definitely proves Corgan hasn’t completely lost it. NOTE: Reissues of 1995’s “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” 1996’s “The Aeroplane Flies High” and 1998’s “Adore” also are slated to come out this year.
Justin Bieber "Believe"
Let’s get this out of the way early. Yes, “Believe” sounds like an album made by another famous Justin. Only Bieber keeps things a little more PG than Timberlake ever did. “I just want to kiss you, I just want to hug you ’til the end” Bieber sings while playing it safe on “Right Here.” He’s joined on the track by Drake, who overshadows Biebs. The song comes off as a possible throwaway tune from the last Drake album instead of something that should be Biebercentric. Other guest spots from Ludacris and Big Sean don’t seem as intrusive. Ludacris fits right in on the club song, “All Around The World.” The Big Sean rap on “As You Love Me” also doesn’t seem out of place even if his words are kind of lame. Both songs are predictable as they are cut from the same mold – dance beat, Bieber vocals, guest rapper, Bieber vocals, end song. Despite the guest spots, which also include Nicki Minaj and Bieber BFF Jaden Smith, this album is still all about Justin. “Believe” feels a little more grown up in terms of the dance beats and Bieber’s vocal style. It also might be the first step toward Bieber being taken seriously as a legitimate pop artist by a more-adult crowd.
Glen Hansard "Rhythm and Repose"
Whether it’s with The Frames or The Swell Season, or even in the movie “Once,” Irish-born singer/songwriter Glen Hansard has a way of tugging at the strings of your heart. It’s his subtle vocal approach that helps set the mood on his first solo album, “Rhythm and Repose”. Hansard remains deliberate in the delivery of his lyrics, giving you time to contemplate each word. There’s a certain warmth to his style on the opener “You Will Become.” Hansard also isn’t afraid to let loose. On some songs, he uses his cozy approach to build comfort before wailing away. “I’m hanging on,” Hansard repeatedly cries out near the end of “Birds of Sorrow.” The lyric is believable since the same guy who let us know everything is going to be alright now sounds like he is barely getting by. “Rhythm and Repose” is a simple album in terms of music with the payoff coming in the form of excellent vocal dynamics.
Also out this week: Fiona Apple, "The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do"; Blood on the Dance Floor, "Evolution"; Kiana Brown, "Hey Chica"; Neneh Cherry & The Thing, "The Cherry Thing"; Kenny Chesney, "Welcome to the Fishbowl"; Children 18:3, "On the Run"; Ravi Coltrane, "Spirit Fiction"; Delta Rae, "Carry the Fire"; The Dirty Heads, "Cabin By the Sea"; Eye Empire, "Impact"; The Flower Kings, "Banks of Eden"; Lita Ford, "Living Like a Runaway"; The Ghost Inside, "Get What You Give"; Sophie B. Hawkins, "The Crossing"; Mark Hummel, "Blue and Lonesome: Tribute to Little Walter"; Juvenile, "Rejuvenation"; Lit, "The View From the Bottom"; Lostprophets, "Weapons"; Make Do and Mend, "Everything You Ever Loved"; Richard Marx, "A Night Out With Friends"; Kate Miller-Heidke, "Nightflight"; Morning Parade, "Morning Parade"; Omar & The Howlers, "I'm Gone"' 1Love featuring Corey Hart, "Truth Will Set U Free", Johnny Rawls, "Soul Survivor"; Marlee Scott, "Beautiful Maybe"; Chris Smither, "Hundred Dollar Valentine"; Mike Stern, "All Over the Place"; Vampires Everywhere!, "Hellbound and Heartless"; Seth Walker, "Time Can Change"; Walk the Moon, "Walk the Moon"; Dr. Michael White, "Adventures in New Orleans Jazz Part 2"; BeBe Winans, "America America".