Week In Rock

Breaking news! Well, sort of. Billy Corgan, everyone’s favorite cue ball and washed-up alternative rock star, has reportedly extended the olive branch of band reunification to the former Smashing Pumpkins members. Rumor has it that they will be back together this coming summer for live shows and a huge comeback performance at the Coachella festival. I guess the guy realized that the bad techno or whatever you call the stuff he was doing just wasn’t making the grade and living up to the legacy of the Pumpkins, or rather the demands of his frustrated ex-fans. Since this summer, Corgan has been making overtures to drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, even going as far as placing a large newspaper advertisement in the Chicago Tribune.

"For a year now I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep,” the ad read. “But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams. In this desire I feel I have come home again." Chamberlain has already committed to the reunion, since he and Corgan remain friends, and the bald-headed tunesmith also maintains contact with Auf Der Maur, so prospects are looking good there. No words yet from estranged guitarist James Iha, but keep an eye on Corgan’s website and you will surely be rewarded with updates on the Pumpkins situation. Corgan has been loath to set anything in stone yet, but gave a promise that the definitive word would be coming soon. "The surprise I have in store for you all will be announced soon enough," he said. "Hold on to your horses. After all, good things surely come to those who wait … Don’t you just love the suspense?"

Sir Paul McCartney has shocked England, and like falling through a giant hole in the stage or collapsing at a recording session, this time the news is age-related too. The elderly ex-Beatle turned down the Brit Awards’ Outstanding Contribution to Music gong-shaped award, for fear that accepting it might imply that he was past his musical prime. "We were absolutely stunned,” a spokesperson for the Brit Awards said. “Sir Paul felt that if he accepted the gong, people would assume it was the end of his career when he is feeling more creative than ever." While the claim that McCartney is now more creative than ever seems a little bit strange considering he was in the Beatles, it seems that the withered gent has earned the right to say and do as he pleases. After McCartney’s advance rejection, the award is scheduled to go to Paul Weller, the guy from the Jam.

Undaunted by the loss of guitarist Jim O’Rourke to a movie career, Sonic Youth is readying their newest long player for release sometime this year. While some fans were disappointed by the softer, adult-contemporary leanings of the last couple of Sonic Youth records, the gentler tones did allow many people who are not fans of screeching, clanging, wailing and cacophonous eight-minute guitar feedback “explorations” to gain a toehold into the expansive and often confusing world that is Sonic Youth. The record currently in progress, however, promises to shake things up a bit and break away from the band’s recent trends. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo spilled the beans to Billboard late last year.

"Some of it seems to be an extension of the last couple of records, but some hearkens forward into territory and also back to earlier, more dissonant and atonal stuff we’ve done,” Ranaldo said. “There’s definitely some rocking songs and also some sound piece-y kind of things that are pretty interesting as well."

While most people would have their plate uncomfortably full recording a new record sans a member, SY continue undaunted to participate in zany side projects and release reissues, including their self-titled EP packaged with a whole batch of early live material. Just what you needed, I’m sure. In any case, the band’s machine-like productivity lends credence to Paul McCartney’s claims of increasing golden-age creativity. If Sir Paul can stand the feedback, I see the beginning of a beautiful partnership.