Volume 96, Issue 57
Friday, January 10, 2003

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Hot CDs in 2003: Manson, Matt Good and more

Debut album

The hype about Zwan has been building ever since the disappointing critical response to Adore and Machina drove Billy Corgan to call it quits – with The Smashing Pumpkins, that is. But Corgan's career as a musician is far from over, and for those who have missed his distinctive brand of emotional rock, Zwan has arrived.

Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins), vocalist/guitarist Matt Sweeney (Skunk), drummer Jimmy Chamberlain (The Smashing Pumpkins), bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) and guitarist David Pajo (Slint), Zwan is a successful interspersion of five high-level musicians.

With Corgan steering the project, it's no surprise that the band is already churning out songs that are hauntingly reminiscent of The Pumpkins. Yet Zwan is much more than a lineup change and a new name: each member brings something unique and relevant to the table.

If the first single "Honestly" is a preview of things to come, this album will resound not only with die-hard Pumpkins fans, but also with a whole new generation of rockers.

–Megan O'Toole

Melissa Auf Der Maur
Auf Der Maur

On her upcoming solo record, the stylish, skinny redhead from Montreal reunites with some ex-bandmates (Eric Erlandson of Hole, James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins), collaborates with musicians from other bands (Josh Homme and Nick Olivieri of Queens of the Stone Age, John Stanier of Helmet, Brant Bjork of Kyuss) and brings aboard some longtime friends (Rufus Wainwright, Jordan Zadorozny of Blinker the Star).

With Auf Der Maur's experience providing sweet, backup harmonies for Hole, as well as fronting a Black Sabbath tribute band, we can expect about a dozen tracks that range from sugary soft to hell-raisingly heavy.

Still no word on what will become of her other bands – The Virgins with Iha, Evan Dando and Ryan Adams; and The Chelsea with Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan), Samantha Maloney (Hole) and Radio Sloan (The Need) – but, hell, she's a busy gal.

–Brian Wong

Matthew Good

Canadian rock's prince of darkness has dropped the "Band" and returns this February with a new effort that will finally unveil the musical evolution he's hinted at with his new heavy hit single "Weapon."

After numerous lineup changes, highlighted by the break-up, then make-up, then break-up, that Good had last year with former lead guitarist Dave Genn, Good's new band features original bassist Rich Priske, along with new drummer Patrick Steward (formerly of The Odds), keyboardist Mark Olexson and guitarist Christian Valdson (formerly of Coypright).

Rumor has it that Good's love affair with Pink Floyd that first became evident on 2001's Loser Anthems EP and was further developed on The Audio of Being, will rear its head more than ever on the new, darker album. In true Good style, the album lists 13 new tracks and clocks in at well over an hour.

With song titles such as "Pledge of Allegiance" and "Lullaby for the New World Order," fans of Good's socially conscious and critical songwriting are sure to be satisfied with the fact that his bark is supported by more bite than ever.

–Maggie Wrobel

Marilyn Manson
The Golden Age of the Grotesque

Originally slated for a fall 2002 release, The Golden Age of the Grotesque has been pushed back numerous times, and is now intended to come out early this year.

With the production team of Manson, Tim Skold and Ben Gross at the helm, the album will be the band's first since the dismissal of longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez.

Manson has deemed this album to be his "most genius deluge of hardcore guitar-drum violence and reckless electronic-punk vaudeville mixed with '30s cabaret decadence and Arch-dandy dada," the latter being a reference to the Dadaist movement, from which Manson draws much of his inspiration.

The notorious leather-clad rocker is fascinated by the way historical periods of rigid dictatorial control have given rise to extreme creative peaks. But hardcore fans, be warned: much as Mechanical Animals was an exercise in experimentalism, Golden Age promises to be an eclectic journey into the worlds of vaudeville, cabaret and burlesque.

Thus far, the only song title that has been released is "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag." Antichrist Superstar, this ain't.

–Megan O'Toole

The Hidden Cameras
The Smell of Our Own

With 2001's Ecce Homo, this Toronto collective ushered in a new era of gay folk church music (yes, as opposed to the previous era of gay folk church music) and became the hot indie band of the moment. They made audiences dance (along with The Cameras' own onstage versions of go-go boys) and made them sing along too (aided by lyrics on an overhead projector).

And not only will Ecce Homo be re-released on Jan. 14, but the group's new album is set to be released in March, preceded by the single "Ban Marriage."

Producing the new batch of songs is London's own Andy Magoffin, frontman for the Two-Minute Miracles and producer for records by The Constantines and Royal City. The results should be much different from the four-track recordings of Ecce Homo. Compared to its predecessor, The Smell of Our Own promises to be more polished, more orchestrated and dammit, just plain more gay.

–Brian Wong

The White Stripes

The nu-garage rock media hype hit hard in 2002 and, arguably, no band was hit harder by it than Detroit's candy-striped duo, Jack and Meg White.

The Stripes' third album White Blood Cells garnered that rare combination of being critically lauded and publicly adored. Their quirky charm was exemplified by their matching red and white outfits and ambiguous relationship, but it was the music that kept the public's interest going strong throughout the year.

The White Stripes' combination of garage rock and old time blues, made famous by their first three releases, has become their claim to fame in a music industry that's usually dominated by polished sensations. Meg's kindergarten style drumming is the perfect accent to Jack's disheveled guitar riffs and blues-drenched vocals, and the duo's fourth full-length album promises to be their rawest sounding release yet.

And it looks as though it may be their swansong as well, as Jack has been quoted as saying that Elephant may be the duo's last album.

–Maggie Wrobel


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