Mary Star Of The Sea
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On initial hearing, Mary Star of the Sea by Zwan--Billy Corgan's first musical project after the Smashing Pumpkins--sounds light and breezy. His new bandmates-- Slint/Tortoise guitarist Dave Pajo, Skunk guitarist Matt Sweeney, A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin and fellow Pumpkin Jimmy Chamberlain on drums--have given Corgan a fresh perspective and his time as touring guitarist for New Order seems to have heightened his love for mid-80s British indie. There are moments of straightforward jangle pop herein, while "Settle Down" reflects the moody angular style adopted by the likes of Interpol. He also appears to have fallen in love. "Honestly" has Corgan sighing "There is no place I could be without you I feel love" like a newly reborn soppy fool. "Declarations of Faith" has him declaring "maybe we were born to love" to a gooey melody that recalls American Anglophile indie bands like Papas Fritas.
It's all a million musical and spiritual miles away from the messy pretension that led to the end of the Pumpkins. As the album progresses, though, Zwan merge this new perspective with the FM radio suss that characterised the best of the Pumpkins to produce a record that takes in 70s balladry and a 14 minute Spiritualized tribute (the title track) without feeling forced. There is even a nod to Britpop ("Baby Let's Rock!" is Suede pretending to be Menswear). It'll all end in tears, of course, but on this record Corgan's having the time of his life. --Ian Watson
Zwan is Billy Corgan's new band. The ex-Smashing Pumpkin has produced an album full of bright and breezy pop songs that are full of the joys of life. This is a back to basics record that will satisfy Pumpkin heads and should bring on board a whole new legion of fans.
Billy Corgan finally brought The Smashing Pumpkins to an end in 2000. The final couple of years of their illustrious career had been fraught with death, drug abuse and, with their last studio album Machina / The Machines Of God, critical and commercial failure.
To form Zwan Corgan called upon old friends Slint / Tortoise guitarist Dave Pajo, Skunk guitarist Matt Sweeney, A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin and fellow Pumpkin drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. Together they've got the enthusiasm, excitement and vitality that all new bands possess. Combine that with years of experience and the invaluable ability to produce radio friendly pop songs and you have a winning team.
The 14 tracks on Mary Star of the Sea do sound like Smashing Pumpkins songs. Corgans nasal voice is instantly recognisable but it is the guitars that sound most familiar; sonic noises and guitar riffs that soar. As with classic Pumpkins albums, this record features heavy rock anthems ("Ride A Black Swan"), followed by more peaceful ballads ("Heartsong").
The album is jam packed full of great songs. "El Sol" is a beautiful indie track, "Yeah" is just plain cool and "Jesus I / Mary of the Sea" is a fantastic 14 minute epic roller coaster ride!
If you disliked the doom and gloom that was so characteristic of the Pumpkins later albums you have nothing to fear. Mary Star of the Sea is full of fun and simple happiness, even love. 'There is no place I could be without you...I feel love' sings Corgan in the superb "Honestly". You can sense the enjoyment the band had in making these bouncy pop songs. Beware; you won't be able to wipe the smile of your face.
Is it better or worse than The Smashing Pumpkins? Who cares, it sounds great and that's good enough for me. --Dan Tallis
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Top Customer Reviews
Summing up the album, the last Pumpkins single 'Untitled' wouldn't be at all out of place on this album - vintage happy Pumpkins style but with distinctly Machina tactics (i.e. the guitar noise).
People liken this new stuff to Siamese Dream but it's nothing like that at all - even though the album sounds obviously like Billy Corgan, Zwan seem to achieved their own sound. One major difference is that although the Pumpkins were a guitar-band, Zwan seem to focus more on vocals than guitar riffs. There are some cheese-rockers on here like 'Baby Lets Rock' 'El Sol' some harder rockers like 'Endless Summer' and the old melancholic Billy returning in songs like 'Of A Broken Heart' and 'Mary Star Of The Sea' (which are probably the best on the album, and my favourites).
The album takes a couple of listens but it is fantastic and is worth it for any Pumpkins fan, as Billy does not disappoint...even if it does sound like he's on happy pills :) plus...YOU GET FREE STICKERS WITH IT! =D
The first time I listened to it, I thought to myself "This is basically another SMashing Pumpkins record"... But comparisons are always going to be made, especially with Billy Corgan. Over any type of melody, from metal, to acoustic, to electronica, you're always going to be reminded of the Pumpkins. You can't help it. It's Billy Corgan.
But after a number of listens, the hooks and melodies become catchier, the lyrics more comprehendable, each track a little more unique rather than one big sludge of guitared-power pop.
Bass driven melodies like "Endless Summer" will grab you first time, it's a lovely song, rocking guitars, nice hook. "Honestly" took me about... 10 listens to get into, for some reason I couldn't understand why it was chosen to be the lead single. It sounded like a mess of a song... but after a while it became clearer why, I couldn't stop singing the hook, and then I understood WHY that song was released first. "Lyric" is the highlight of the album and to be honest, it sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins song from start to finish. The melody is so obviously something that only Billy Corgan could sing, it's full of emotion, and the build up of guitars is fantastic.
Lyrics are a big part of any Billy Corgan release, and Zwan's debut album is no exception. Although they seem to be alot more simpler and 'happier' than anything from the Pumpkins, hints of Corgan's more mystical lyrics can be found in songs such as "Ride A Black Song", which is driven along by some hugely catchy riffage through the chorus. One of the good things about the album is the guitar melodies.. with three guitarists, you're bombarded from every angle, albeit by a solo or some power chords over the hook.Read more ›
But to judge Mary Star in its own right, it is a fine record, so upbeat and happy that after a few listens it leaves you will a smile whenever you think of the songs. And with titles like 'Endless Summer' and 'Baby, let's Rock', it would be hard not to.
As an album with Corgan's stamp all over it, of course it veers from cringable cheeziness to genius, but is still by some way the best Corgan album since Mellon Collie, and with several radio-friendly, uplifting, almost 'pop' songs, Mary Star has the potential to set Zwan off on a course that might make them more commercially successful than the Pumpkins ever were.
I was very pleasantly surprised. Definitely worth a look.
The opening track 'Lyric' is a sign of things to come, immediately setting the tone for a series of very upbeat and catchy tunes. Each track in turn offers something different, but the overall impression is that Corgan is at present a very happy man.
Zwan is a project that Billy didnt have to take part in, he had nothing left to prove to anyone, and could quite easily have damaged his reputation. The songs here though can only improve his reputation, especially as a lyricist. He is ably supported by the rest of the band who gel together as though this was their tenth album rather than their first. Each song is beautifully crafted, complete with ridiculously addictive choruses and brilliant guitar riffs.
The highlight is probably Jesus I/Mary Star of the Sea, a 14 minute masterpiece with some of the finest drumming ever recorded. Anyone who says this album is anything but brilliant is completely wrong, this is a work of genius and should be bought by anyone who has an interest in music. If you want something to wallow in your own self pity to then this is probably not for you but anyone else should love it. This is the way that music should be, cheery yet meaningful, upbeat and intelligent all at the same time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amongst all but the staunchest Smashing Pumpkins fans, the concensus is undoubtedly that Billy Corgan's songwriting mojo has waned since his 90's heyday. Read morePublished on 29 May 2009 by J. Jenkins
SMASHING PUMPKINS GALORE...
I LOVE IT..IT'S LIKE A POSSITIVE VERSION OF THE PUMPKINS..GORGAN IS JUST BRILLIANT! Read more
Billy Corgan's follow up to 'The Smashing Pumkins', 'Zwan', released last years most interestingly titled album with 'Mary Star of the Sea'. Read morePublished on 30 Jan. 2004
right. the smashing pumpkins were an amazing, and epic band. their brilliance stemmed from each of their song having a particular hook or section to it that was just aurally... Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2003 by Amazon Customer
I've always been a great fan of the Smashing Pumpkins but that doesnt mean that when I listened to this album I instantly tried to compare it to them. Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2003 by G. Flecknell
I've not listened to the whole album yet, but what i've heard so far will appeal to all pumpkins fans. Its the follow up to Mellon Collie that they shoulve made!Published on 9 Jun. 2003
Zwan aren't the most fashionable thing around. They don't sound like The White Stripes, they don't record their albums in a week in someone's shed, they don't sing about what they... Read morePublished on 21 May 2003 by Amazon Customer
Wow! Billy Corgan is back, with his new band, Zwan. As a whole, its very good, especially the 14 minute long epic, "Jesus I/Mary Star of the Sea," which could be taken off a... Read morePublished on 19 May 2003