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RECORD RACK

*** 1/2 SMASHING PUMPKINS "Gish" Caroline

July 14, 1991|JONATHAN GOLD

In the eclectic, hard-rock '90s, all styles of music, from Buddy Holly to Bolt Thrower, exist simultaneously, ready to be mined for riffs and poses by every bunch of fellows with two amps and a garage. Some of the best of this new mix 'n' match metal comes from bands with extremely short attention spans--Faith No More and Primus come to mind--that seem to have acquired their aesthetics from long workouts with a remote-control zapper and molded them into unique sounds of their own.

Smashing Pumpkins, a young Chicago quartet that's as eclectic as they come, manages to combine Jane's Addiction's complex grooves, Guns N' Roses' emotional vulnerability and more than a dram of Sub Pop-style sonic slime into a mixture that's, well, more Pumpkinesque than anything else: riffy, melodic and shot through with moments of actual beauty.

It's one of the hottest new bands from the underground. "Gish" is an enormously ambitious album, but the hooks work, the musicianship is way above what you'd expect from a new indie band, and what might have seemed pretentious in yet another sweaty Caucasian funk band here comes off as thoughtful.

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