february 2013

What our editors saw on the final day of Winter NAMM 2013.

"West Virginia acoustic builder Andrew White Guitars brought a whole line of impressive guitars to NAMM. His all-solid import flattops were impressive at less than $1,200, but the Gypsy Jazz-E shown here was what had heads turning the most. It features a solid Italian spruce top, solid curly walnut back and sides, a 1-piece mahogany bolt-on neck, and a fretboard and bridge made of ebony."

Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness—Deluxe Box Set Virgin Records With Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the Smashing Pumpkins pushed the already loose boundaries of the alt-rock

Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness—Deluxe Box Set
Virgin Records


With Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the Smashing Pumpkins pushed the already loose boundaries of the alt-rock scene and created the most grandiose album of the ’90s. Coming off the mainstream success of Siamese Dream, the band had built up some artistic capital and then proceeded to spend every last ounce of it with a sprawling, well-orchestrated opus that served as the Gen Xers’ The Wall. Now, 17 years later, the high point of the Pumpkin’s career gets the reissue treatment along with a huge trove of demos, alternate versions, and even rare video that paints a crystal-clear picture of the pinnacle of alt-rock’s most enigmatic group.

If you expect your fans to buy a box set that does include some previously released material, the devil is in the details and Corgan delivers. Along with the remastered original album, there are three full discs of demos, unreleased tracks, and sketches of tunes. And that’s in addition to a DVD of two classic Pumpkins shows from ’96. That’s plenty of new material for even the most die-hard Pumpkinhead. For a collection like this, it almost makes more sense to listen to the albums with the songs grouped together in alphabetical order, comparing and contrasting different versions of tunes in an effort to understand and track the band’s musical direction.

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Arbouretum Coming Out of the Fog Thrill Jockey Imagine an improbable collision of Fairport Convention, the Velvet Underground, and early Jefferson Airplane, and you’ll begin to grasp Arbouretum’s doomy folk-rock

Arbouretum
Coming Out of the Fog
Thrill Jockey

Imagine an improbable collision of Fairport Convention, the Velvet Underground, and early Jefferson Airplane, and you’ll begin to grasp Arbouretum’s doomy folk-rock sound. With Dave Heumann’s electric guitar alternating between dense, fuzzed-out solos and clear, ringing arpeggios, the Baltimore-based quartet delivers Celtic-tinged vocal melodies over spare tribal drumbeats and massive, grinding bass. Arbouretum excels at casting hypnotic spells with their songs—party music it ain’t.

Often coated in washes of silvery reverb and beat-synchronized echo, the band’s throbbing pulse runs like a river of mercury below minimalist acoustic piano, spooky synth textures, and occasional pedal steel provided by guest musician Dave Hadley.

When he solos, Heumann takes his sweet time and explores every region of his fretboard. What’s the hurry? With a molasses-thick distortion and a singing vibrato that recalls such late-’60s British blues-rockers as Mick Taylor and Paul Kossoff, Heumann mixes keening bends, chromatic passing tones, and slippery pentatonics into his droning riffs and phrases. It’s a distinctive sound, and in a world where a lead guitarist is often celebrated for speed and overt virtuosity, Heumann makes a strong case for the slow burn.

Must-hear track: “The Long Night”
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