Friday, December 2, 2016

Albums of the Year # 24 Nothing

In 1993 when I was living in Dortmund, I went to see Smashing Pumpkins play in nearby Cologne. It was just after the release of Siamese Dream which the friend I went with had been listening to, somewhat in awe, for the previous couple of weeks. They were quite astonishing live, and though I rarely listen to them anymore, it still remains one of the best gigs I've ever seen and I'll never forget what it felt like listening to Disarm and Today to name but two, for the first time.

Tired of Tomorrow, the second album by Philadelphia's Nothing reminds me of nothing quite so much as Smashing Pumpkins of that, their golden era. Not the whole package, there's little of Billy Corgan's preening for example, but the two records share a basic template in terms of song structure, There's a similar heaviness to proceedings, a weight, in this case of all consuming sadness. It also does the soft / heavy effect switch that Siamese Dream utilised to such effect. 

Given Nothing's history that heaviness is no wonder. Lead singer and songwriter Dominic Palermo has done prison time for a gang related stabbing and more recently being traumatically beaten up before the making of Tired of Tomorrow. This event was accompanied by unexpected family deaths which also threatened to derail the release of the album and a run in with pharmaceutical greed merchant Martin Shkreli who had associations with their record label leading to their threatening to dump the record if it was released with any connection to Shkreli.

We can be grateful the album has survived and is out. It's a document of a certain sort of  unhappiness, (just listen to the lyrics), but we can be thankful to the band for their perseverance because it's some statement and one best heard from start to finish.Everything fits.

 It may not be something you'll want to listen to every day of the week but there are days when the sky is grey and raindrops are pattering on your windowsill when it may reflect your mood. Sadness is an energy. I wonder if Billy Corgan has heard it. The band tend to drop Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine as their formative influences and I've never heard them mention the Pumpkins, but there's clearly some of the defining disharmony in the mix here. That influence supplements the effect of this quietly confident record a great deal, at least for me.

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