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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Jimmy Chamberlin Complex
Life Begins Again
Sanctuary Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


January 27, 2005
If there was one member of the Smashing Pumpkins that was expected to do anything notable after the band's final breakup, that individual would undoubtedly be Billy Corgan. And while Corgan fronted the underachieving rock outfit Zwan, it looks to be former Pumpkins and Zwan drummer Jimmy Chamberlin who has put his best foot forward since performing with both groups.

Life Begins Again is an album that speaks beyond the context of past bands, breakups and underachievement. As Chamberlin's first solo work, the album breaks away from the supporting role that he has been placed for almost his entire musical career. The album's style shows that the drummer was holding certain edges back - such as the instrumental soloist mentality and a partiality for jazz.

However, the overall personality of Life Begins Again is most similar to the late-1990s hard, alternative rock feel that the Pumpkins rode to celebrity. The 11-song creation also has a tight-chop feel, similar to albums from exceptional studio drummers (Steve Gadd, Terry Bozzio, Dennis Chambers). Even though, typically, studio drummer albums have the tendency to be more technical and less creatively original, Chamberlin steers clear of this pitfall.

Chamberlin uses his knowledge of the non-mainstream Chicago rock scene to infuse the technically-inclined jazz rock with a creative edge. Such detail is exemplified with the opening track of the album, "Streetcrawler," when the drummer lays down a solid rock rhythm and watches the other instruments unfold to take the song to new levels. Chorus-y guitar pluckings and constant drum fills (ghost notes, rim shots, single-stroked rolls, tom rolls) make the track sound very soft rock/jazz until a powerful, distorted electric fuzz bass brings an exciting rock change into the works. "Cranes of Prey" is another great track (with excellent variation in instrumentation, especially between electric and upright bass usage) that showcases the dual style and allows Chamberlin to play the hell out of the drums while still being somewhat artistic.

In the album's two best songs, though, Chamberlin shows that he has not fully broken away from his Smashing Pumpkins past. "Loki Cat" is a gentle groove that floats as if it was a raft on water with the vocal lending of Corgan guiding the flow, along with ambient synth noise and a cloudy toned guitar atmosphere. "Owed to Daryl" is a melding of the jazz and rock facets and a drop-D rock bass tuning brings a great bottom to an intense transition, a metaphor for Chamberlin's life.

The best thing about Life Begins Again is that Jimmy Chamberlin actually succeeded in writing it. After a life previously filled with drugs and band struggles, the drummer has turned things around and become his own leader, showing that it wasn't always just the Billy Corgan Show, but in fact, he played his role to perfection.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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