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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Smashing Pumpkins, J. Cole, Ghostface Killah, PRhyme and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, December 8, 2014

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Smashing Pumpkins

"Monuments to An Elegy"

Martha's Music/BMG

Grade: B+

Billy Corgan has kept Smashing Pumpkins a moving target during the past two decades or so, which has at times cost him as much as it's gained. There's no question he's kept it interesting, though, and "Monuments to An Elegy" is the kind of album fans of the Pumpkins' early- and mid-90s heyday have been waiting for -- focused, compact (just 33 minutes, almost half of 2012's "Oceania") and irrepressibly tuneful. Another part of Corgan's ambitious but widely misunderstood "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope," "Monuments' " nine tracks testify to both Corgan's deep rock and even pop roots and, to the fact that he's paying attention in 2014 with its synthesizers and the dance floor nods of tracks such as "Anaise!," "Dorian" and "Run2Me." Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is on board to provide some jet fuel percussive propulsion, while guitarist Jeff Schroeder and "Adore" engineer Howard Willing team with Corgan as a tight creative unit, from the sharp dynamic structure of "Drum + Fife" to the grungey grind of "One and All (We Are)" and the glam-metal flavor of the closing "Anti-Hero." Another Pumpkins album, "Day For Night," is set to follow in 2015, when Corgan sings on "Monuments" that "I will bang this drum 'til my dying day" it makes us hope that it's just as good as this.

New & Noteworthy:

Angels & Airwaves, "The Dream Walker" (To The Stars): The fourth album from blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge's other band is part of a multi-media concept -- including a novel, comic books, anime and a feature film -- built around the vivid-dream adventurer Poet Anderson.

J. Cole, "2014 Forest Hills Drive" (Dreamville/Roc Nation/Columbia): The North Carolina rapper's third studio album carries the address of his childhood home -- which was foreclosed while he was in college and which he subsequently repurchased for his family.

Cracker, "Berkely To Bakersfield" (429): David Lowery and Johnny Hickman return with an ambitious two-disc set, one focusing on their rock side and the other on country, with the former reuniting the group's "Kerosene Hat" lineup.

Ghostface Killah, "36 Seasons" (Tommy Boy): If last week's Wu-Tang Clan return wasn't enough for you, the group member unleashes his 11th solo album with help from AZ, Pharoahe Monch, Kool G. Rap and others.

K. Michelle, "Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?" (Atlantic): The sophomore album from the R&B singer and VH1 reality TV show star.

PRhyme, "RRhyme" (PRyhme): A hot and quick (9 tracks, 35 minutes) debut from the team of Detroit rapper Royce da 5'9" and DJ Premier, with guests including Mac Miller, Common, Killer Mike, Royce's Slaughterhouse and the Motor City's Dwele.

Also Out: Carmine and Vinny Appice, "Drum Wars Live!" (Cleopatra); Bastille, "VS. (Other People's Heartache, Pt. III) (self-released); E-40, "Sharp On All 4 Corners: Corner 1," "Sharp On All Corners: Corner 2" (Heavy on the Grind); Emigrate, "Silent So Long" (Vertigo); Johnny Gill, "Game Changer" (J Skillz/Caroline); Gov't Mule, "Dark Side of the Mule" (Evil Teen); Harem Scarem, "Thirteen" (Frontiers); Ivy Queen, "VBendetta: First Round" (UMLe); PVRIS, "White Noise" (Rise); The Sharp Things, "Adventurer's Inn" (Dive); Dan Siegel, "Indigo" (DSM); Sundy Best, "Salvation City" (eOne Nashville); Various Artists, "Ultra 2015" (Ultra); Yes, "Like It Is -- Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome" (Frontiers)

From The Vaults: Avatar, "Thoughts of No Tomorrow" (RED); Peter Banks Empire, "The Mars Tapes" (Gonzo Multimedia); Lynch Mob, "Sun Red Sun (Deluxe Edition)" (Rat Pak); Frank Sinatra, "Sinatra: London" (CMG); Supertramp, "Crime of the Century (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)" (A&M/UMe); Tears For Fears, "Songs From the Big Chair" (Mercury/UMe); Carrie Underwood, "Greatest Hits: Decade #1" (19/Arista Nashville); Various Artists, "The Only Folk Collection You'll Ever Need" (Shout! Factory); Various Artists, "The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32)" (Third Man);

Soundtracks: Marco Beltrami, "The Homesman" (Varese Sarabande); NOFX, "Backstage Passport" (Fat Wreck Chords); Howard Shore, "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (WaterTower Music); Howard Shore and Leonard Cohen, "Rosewater" (Howe)

New Holiday Albums: Various Artists, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (Epic)

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