Some Songs Considered #002 – The Smashing Pumpkins, TEEN, Action Bronson
Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.
The Difficulty in Enjoying The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mayonaise”
by Julian Kimble
When discussing The Smashing Pumpkins’ discography, the splendidly over-the-top Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is typically their most talked about album. As ambitious as it is, it’s not their catalog’s gem — that title belongs to Siamese Dream. It was the band’s first leap toward greatness, as well as the moment frontman Billy Corgan’s perfectionist status entered the realm of obsession. There are a bevy of great songs on the album (“Cherub Rock” and “Disarm” are powerful in obverse ways; “Luna” is so delicate that it’s tear-inducing). But the one that’s emerged supreme to me is “Mayonaise.”
Forty-five seconds of faint guitar strings end with the crash of a Jimmy Chamberlin cymbal. From there, the song is dominated by a warm surge of guitars and Corgan’s voice, his breathy vocals giving lyrics like “Fool enough to almost be it/Cool enough to not quite see it/Doomed…” a psychedelic glow until the final verse, where it slowly mounts into an explosion of his trademark rasp:
No more promise, no more sorrow
No longer will I follow
Can anybody hear me?
I just want to be me
And when I can, I will
Try to understand
That when I can, I will
His pained scream on the “I just want to be me” lyric soars over the layered guitars, and the emphasis he places on each individual word exhibits how much power lies in the simple way something is said. As the flaming guitars fade, the song ends just as it began: with distant strings that slowly vanish.
“Mayonaise” is a very involved song, from Corgan’s vocals, to the guitar work, and Chamberlin serving as the glue with his steady drumming, but its most interesting attribute has long been that guitar wail that first appears just after the two-minute mark. I remember an old MTV commercial from my childhood where Corgan explained its genesis:
Amazing how genius happens by accident, no? Two decades later, that accidental whistle represents the legacy of “Mayonaise.” However, on a personal level, the song endures for a dark reason. It’s what I was listening to when I found out — 10 years ago to the day — that a friend had died. Final exams became an afterthought when I was simultaneously informed by one friend via AIM, and another by phone, that our classmate and mutual friend had passed away the day before. The soundtrack for unsettling news that I was unable to process at the time (and haven’t discussed until now) was this amazing piece of music.
I remember feeling hollow for about an hour afterwards, but once I finally digested the tragedy, I realized that I’d always associate one of my favorite songs with anguish.
A decade has passed, and it’s not the famous squeal that has stayed with me after subsequent listens of “Mayonaise,” it’s these lyrics: “Try and ease the pain/Somehow, feel the same.” Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but people live on just as music does: through impact and appreciation.
28-Year-Old Man Loves TEEN
by Bryce Rudow
One of the benefits of being Editor-in-Chief is that I don’t have some megalomaniacal editor constantly pushing his agenda on me and cramping my style. That leaves me the complete freedom/god-like power to push my agenda on you. And since July 2, 2014, my agenda has been making sure people know TEEN are a very, very good band.
When I first wrote about them almost a year ago, I said “I wish Celebrity Deathmatch was still around so that I could get a claymation rendering of what it will be like when TEEN steals HAIM’s throne as indie pop’s most revered sisters #,” and while I did get my wish about Celebrity Deathmatch coming back, TEEN still seems tragically under-appreciated. We’re talking like sub-10k Facebook likes, sub-350k Spotify plays under-appreciated#. They’re getting to open for people like Will Butler and The Antlers, which are the bills indie music fans dream of (and I can personally attest to how great their show with Win Butler at Rock and Roll Hotel was), but I just don’t understand how they’re not so big that I have to have that ‘they were never your band; they’re allowed to be famous’ internal monologue.
In the multiple times I’ve written about them and their album The Way and the Color – including ranking it the 9th best album of 2014 – I’ve done my best to bring up the fact that you aren’t going to find a better 1-2-3 punch of an album opening than “Rose 4 U,” “Not For Long,” and “Tied Up, Tied Down.” Not only are they all individually great songs, they’re all unique to one another. It’s like TEEN was putting together a mixtape and showing they could take what everyone else was working with and do it better. Sure they should be stealing fans away from HAIM because it’s a bunch of pretty female voices doing a nostalgic take on indie pop, but there’s a whole ton of 90’s R&B in there too, there’s gospel in there, there’s crazy ass guitar riffs in there. There are lyrics, like on “Sticky”, that will make your skin tingle. And this thing was recorded in 10 days!
Apparently they have an album before this that all other TEEN fans I’ve met told me not to listen to, so I haven’t, but a bad first impression is the only reason I can think of as to why this band hasn’t caught on more. If that’s not it, then I’m just left wagging my finger at the blogosphere. There’s a kink in the Hype Machine somewhere that needs to get sorted out.
Can you hear me down there?
If you can, go listen to TEEN.
“Easy Rider”: Random Nerds’ Unofficial Theme Song
by Joe Corbett
I am not ‘hip’ to the latest ‘jams’ in music, but one of the upsides of working next to Bryce and Charles everyday before we launched was that I got to hear tons of new songs and artists I liked that I would have never found myself. I also got to discover the wonder that is Action Bronson.
Apparently I’m not the first to say “he reminds me of Ghostface Killah,” but he reminds me of Ghostface Killah, and that’s one of the highest compliments a 30-something raised in northern Jersey can give. Well, that and having his video for “Easy Rider” be the background to our landing page pre-launch. It’s the greatest music video in the history of the world and it represents how I, our Founder & CEO feel, about doing business today.
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