The Smashing Pumpkins
Pisces Iscariot


4.0
excellent

Review

by Chris Maziejka USER (49 Reviews)
July 24th, 2006 | 37 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


How many times has an album amongst the library of a band of epic proportion been almost forgotten about? So overshadowed by the polished work of later Smashing Pumpkins records, both Pisces Iscariot and the debut Gish have been left out of the sound that soon became the signature nineties revolution upon itself, and proved to be nothing more than totally average grunge rocking in Gish's case. But since when was that a bad thing? Instead of focusing on 'how many guitar overlaps can we cram into this song?' and 'does Billy's voice sound completely different and unique for the track at hand?' the band delves to their truest roots that had yet to evolve into '1979' which appeared on Gish. Upon hearing this album, the reaction that should be expected is ultimate realization of the Smashing Pumpkin's sound. There is so much on this record that showcases how they became the modern SP and what means of music playing it took to get there. Their acclaimed sophmore release was defenitely good, but was much more all over the place than this record. Pisces is a more controlled and formulaic album than Siamese Dream was. Pisces Iscariot is a story of four musicians who told the Grunge God of that generation that they'd obey his commandments despite their obvious lack of respect for him in the years beforehand and produce a record worthy of the era. Little did this God know, they all had something great under their sleeves. And good thing they did, or we may have never heard the experimental epic Mellon Collie if not for the breakthrough sound of their third studio album, the current subject at hand.

Now what this album truly became was a musical embodiment of past and future Smashing Pumpkins, with the pop-cultural sound of the present going on on the outside to offer to the people what they wanted to hear. Dream must have come as a bit an alarming wake-up call to the people that introduced them to what modern rock from that day forward would soundlike. There shall be no more one hit dance wonders of the eighties, the trashy garage sound will not last as long as people think and somebody had to make music that would eventually open up to make so many new bands that would follow that sound that Siamese Dream introduced, and produce modern alternative. So if you have not yet realized the sheer power that album contains, and the unlimited amount of influence upon rock these days you should take a listen. Put down OK Computer, drop American Idiot, and relieve yourself of all your indie records and discover Siamese Dream. That my friends is what grew the branch that is today's alternative music. So what does all this have to do with Pisces? Well, all of the SP albums have a special place in the band's history, and all were influential to some extent. Think of SD as the Moses of the nineties, and PI as your ten commandments. Pisces became the rulebook to describe and explain in great detail to all of the aspiring musicians willing to follow Corgan and his mighty knights through the fray of grunge and pop to create a new music. That is the point of [i]Pisces Iscariot, when you speak of it on its scale of influence.

Influence isn't going to make you enjoy this particular album, however. What does this album offer to its audience eagerly awating satisfaction in front of the stage? Well, it sounds as though Billy got Kurt Cobain drunk one night and had his way with him, impregnated the man with his music and the mother died during delivery of such an immensely awesome kid. This kid grew up to have a little rebellious sister named Siamese Dream. While she left home when Pisces was still in school, and created a mass plethora of revolutionary music, Pisces had been saving the best for last. The best was organized music which shared some qualities like clear organization, like these songs were actually written prior to everything and not jammed out on by Billy alone in his room overlapping twelve thousand times too many. Prime examples of this are 'Landslide', 'Whir', and 'Starla'. In these three tracks you can hear the pure effort put into the making of the songs to sound the way the band wanted them to. Pisces Iscariot is not a science experiment, its a math problem, and organized just like a breezy one. Yet still it manages to keep you on the page for a good hour.

Of course with a band like this...eventually Iha's guitarist A.D.D. kicks in and he starts to jam his heart out through his fingers. Grunge influenced its own slayer. Which is quite an interesting combination. On a song like 'Girl Named Sandoz' or 'Plume' you'll know immediately that SP was not totally unaware of their environment. These tracks combine the sound of grunge and their unique rebellious feel to create a sound of a beast escaping its pre-determined cage of critique and fan desire. They rock hard, and are the breed of SP song that provide the catch and not the dreamy feel to it. Those ballads are saved for other occasions as the raw moshable power of 'Hello Kitty Kat' takes the stage. So upbeat, so two-faced. These songs sound like two coats of paint on one wall: the orange paint, being the raw and angsty grunge sound, and the black paint covering up as much grunge as it can, and representing the new age. Like black is the new orange, something of that sort. Amazingly guitar driven.

Organization, moshing...and now we come to the classic SP sound of what you listen to sinking into your bed laying on your back in a black and blue room, your dank windows dripping away along with your happiness. Most of the truly clean, organized songs can come into play here. 'Blew Away' and 'Soothe' being the most powerful, emotion-filled, tear jerking songs on the album. I don't know what it is about 'Blew Away' but its making my eyes well up as I write this. Songs like this that are so innocent sounding with the nonchalant instrumental just flowing, blowing in the wind across the city sidewalks and streets to meet up with your face, make your sad life happy for a split second, and just leave you behind as it continues on leading its life of smiles as you return to breaking down crying, as if all your problems and past arguements just come crashing from the sky onto your head. These are the songs that put that musical pressure feeling on you, that feeling you get when you listen to a sad song and think that you have to do something about your life. Billy Corgan can write some powerful stuff, and the rest of the band does strengthen it greatley, and these tracks become very much Corgan and Chamberlain masterpieces. Drums play an imperitive role in the ballads. James Iha and D'Arcy give the emptiness of emotion a spine and make them all listenable. Then they cry.

End has to come for all things, and as Pisces Iscariot slowly rolls out of your life (it is a phenomenal recording, but doesn't offer as much replay value that you'd think...Pisces is a record for occasion and mood) and you move on, wiping the tears from your face and forgetting the stories in your head, it will stay solidified in the Smashing Pumpkins lineup as the food you prepared with the cookbook that was Siamese Dream. Once you get used to hearing the band in this way you will no doubt become much more appreciative of them and open your ears to listen to the next part of the story, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. That's the beauty of the band. Their entire career is a folktale fit for the ages, and written so well as to attract an entirely new kind of music fan. They revolutionised modern rock, and Pisces Iscariot is why.

Credits:

Guitars/Vocals: Billy Corgan
Guitars: James Iha
Bass: D'Arcy Wretzky
Drums: Jimmy Chamberlain



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Patrick
July 24th 2006


1891 Comments


dude, they covered landslide by fleetwood mac. you shouldn't do that, or you'll be put in a class with the dixie chicks as people who wish they were as good as fleetwood mac. oh well smashing pumpkins is good anyway.

Two-Headed Boy
July 24th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

smashing pumpkins is good anyway.

smashing pumpkins are good anyway.
Who lurned you to spoke?
Nice review.

Neoteric
July 24th 2006


3243 Comments


Okay review, I like the band but not heard this.

Zebra
Moderator
July 24th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This was a good review, much better then your Odelay! one.
I always thought this album was kind of boring, even if I didn't make any unfair comparisons to Siamese Dream.

Two-Headed Boy
July 24th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Odelay doesn't have an exclamation mark :angry:

The Jungler
July 24th 2006


4827 Comments


Odelay doesn't have an exclamation mark
Yes it does.

I need to get some more Smashing Pumpkins material, as I only have Rotten Apples (aka greatest hits).


Two-Headed Boy
July 24th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

:eek:
Siamese Dream-ify this man now.

The Jungler
July 24th 2006


4827 Comments


Yeah, it's on my list.

Hatshepsut
July 24th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

smashing pumpkins are good anyway.
Groups are singular. I'd say the same thing, but it's arguable.
I don't like this album all that much.

Two-Headed Boy
July 24th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Argh I was wrong.This Message Edited On 07.24.06

Hatshepsut
July 24th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I win

Kyle
July 24th 2006


667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do you actually mention that this is a B-side collection? (Sorry if you do, but I'm really failing to see where it is).

I disagree with a lot of stuff you say, but as an actual review, this is really well written....It's really interesting throughout. If only you hadn't had half-mocked Gish in the opening paragraph.

The Door Mouse
July 24th 2006


2092 Comments


the only songs i no on this are hkk and landslide

grungeguy88
November 18th 2006


788 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Getting this album has completed my SP album collection. It features the best of both sides of SP. "Starla" is huge, but I can listen to it whenever.

MrKite
December 3rd 2006


5020 Comments


I saw a muchmoremusic list about top 20 best covers and they put on the Dixie Chicks version of Landslide and I was like whoevere makes these lists are retarded, yet I keep on watching.

Patrick
December 3rd 2006


1891 Comments


Fleetwood Mac>Smashing Pumpkins>Dixie Chicks

samariah
February 9th 2007


109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

starla is beautiful

Two-Headed Boy
July 9th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I saw a muchmoremusic list about top 20 best covers and they put on the Dixie Chicks version of Landslide and I was like whoevere makes these lists are retarded, yet I keep on watching.

Is that the show Listed? That's a terrible, terrible show.

tribestros
July 9th 2007


918 Comments


Pisces Iscariot is not a good album by any means...Zeitgeist is better. Girl Named Sandoz is possibly the only PI song I really like. It sounds too much like Siamese Dream, but much, much more boring and alike.This Message Edited On 07.09.07

MartianKyo
May 14th 2008


23 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For a b-sides collection this is an excellent album
Hello Kitty Kat
Frail and Bedazzled
Starla (a master piece)
Blue ..which I like to call the shortest prog-rock song.

and of course
Obscured

Production is bad, yes. But this is a b-side collection, some bands never put out albums that are half as good as this.

If it only had Drown on it, it would be a perfect album.



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