Initial Reactions (2012): Smashing Pumpkins, Sun Kil Moon, Keri Latimer

Initial Reactions are just that: my reactions to records after only a few listens (usually 2 or 3). I try to be fair, but if a record doesn’t make much of an initial impression on me, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania [A-]: I’m dipping my toes in easily – it’s been a long time since BC unleashed something great – but this is some super-dreamy dream-rock and a really pleasant surprise. I get off the Pumpkins train right after Pisces, but Oceania resurrects all the things I loved about those first 3 albums, and commits a big prog-nerd embrace to update the sound. And hey, this is a full band effort – go figure! This could just turn out to be one of the best albums of the year. Welcome back Corgan.  (“Pale Horse”, “The Chimera”)

Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves [B]: AtL leads off with three great, RHP-esque tunes, and then settles for mediocrity. I was not a fan of Admiral Fell Blues in all of its noodling glory, and thus I find the AFB-esque tracks here to be the filler. Bottom line is this could have been cut by a third and been a really good album, standing in line with the finest of RHP’s work. But rather than our favorite mopey hipster, we get a worn out, cranky old one.    (“Sunshine In Chicago”, “Among The Leaves”)

Keri Latimer – Crowsfeet and Grayskull [B+]: If there was ever an album I wanted to love, it’s this. I was head over heels for Latimer’s (old?) outfit Nathan and their 2007 LP Key Principles. And while Latimer’s fallen angel vocals and lonesome tired melodies are all present here, the songs just don’t hit me on the same level as, say, “The Wind” or “Ordinary Day.” There’s no doubting this is a good album with a strong and worthy concept, but it doesn’t quite satisfy the hunger inside. (And how’s that for a fitting critique?) (“Mud and Slobber”, “Bloomington”)