Misery For the Masses

Nothing more than feelings: Billy Corgan channels teenage angst

The all-age contingent gets its first chance in two years to catch Walt Mink tonight (Wednesday) along with Fig Dish at First Avenue ($7; 6 p.m. show). Later on in the Entry, Low stops by to support the new Transmission EP, with June Sunday and the ragged, Wedding Present-like The Pins in tow--the latter are celebrating a new vinyl-only LP, Eleanor ($6, music at 9 p.m., ID required). Also tonight at Bryant-Lake Bowl, fun-governor Dylan Hicks unveils his latest band name, Golf Ball-Sized Boogie. Better yet, the show will feature a cameo by what Hicks describes as his "new age rock alter ego," Dylan Davis, plus scenes from Hicks's "work-in-progress musical," Fits of Leisure, a yo-yo whiz, and possibly that circus clown whose dad is pro wrestler The Claw. Still more bizarre is Hicks's recent advertisement in City Pages, offering to sell his love songs for $5-$10 a pop. I hope he checked with his label first. ($4. Show at 10 p.m.) (Simon Peter Groebner) CP

Illusions). Still, on Mellon Collie, Billy has matured lyrically in making every single letter lower-case. But despite the plentiful love songs (one called "love"), he's still got that bilious edge and a sense of all-around wretchedness; he's still "intoxicated with the madness... in love with my sadness," as he puts it on "zero." Take the song "fuck you (an ode to no one)," and the worldview on "jellybelly": "welcome to nowhere fast/nothing here ever lasts/nothing but memories/of what never was/... living makes me sick/so sick i wish i'd die/down in the belly of the beast" (so would this be the jellybelly of the title?).

"I give in to my disease," Billy rants on a song from Siamese Dream. Judging from his lyrics, I'd diagnose him with a severe humor deficiency, as well as a bad case of extended adolescence. Which of course explains the Pumpkins's popularity: Billy Corgan is every American teen's poet, and don't think he doesn't know it. As he told Rolling Stone, "I still spend a lot of time thinking about what a 15-year-old must be thinking right now. Because that is the predominant audience that you're going to be relating to."

BACK TO EARTH

A YEAR BACK, the good folks at Prospective/ Ultramodern Records attempted to create a so-called dream-pop scene based around three local bands: Shapeshifter, Colfax Abbey, and February. But apart from a few cosmetic similarities, each band works with a distinctly different philosophy, and the scene-dreams soon dissolved. "Dream-pop" is problematic anyway: These bands all display a tendency toward "dreamy" treble guitar noise, but they're more spacy and textural than the word "pop" connotes. Last year I met a guitarist who called it, appropriately I think, "texture music," since the guitars are essentially discordant atmospherics, while the rhythm section usually dictates the shape of the songs.

Since then, Shapeshifter took a small hiatus, February independently launched its Even the Night Can't Tell You From a Star EP, and numerous newer bands like Overblue, Summer Holiday, and Nectar have further fragmented the pseudo-genre. Colfax Abbey, the retro heartthrobs of the pack, now offer the first local full-length on the subject--their CD debut, Drop (Prospective/TRG).

An elaborate, triumphant recording, Drop highlights the Abbey's textural strengths and testifies to the power of a good producer. Half of the disc was masterfully recorded at the Playground in Chicago with coproducer Keith Cleversley, highly esteemed for his work with Spiritualized and The Flaming Lips; the other half was knobbed by Ed Ackerson, no slouch himself. I'd go so far as to say the production weaves a sonic complexity into Colfax Abbey's music of which the band alone wasn't always fully capable. Feel it for yourself at Friday's CD release party at 7th St. Entry. Openers include Dwindle along with the reconfigured Overblue and Nectar. 8 p.m. doors; $5. Call 338-8388.

The all-age contingent gets its first chance in two years to catch Walt Mink tonight (Wednesday) along with Fig Dish at First Avenue ($7; 6 p.m. show). Later on in the Entry, Low supports their new Transmission EP, with June Sunday and ragged, Wedding Present-like The Pins in tow--the latter are celebrating a new LP, Eleanor ($6, music at 9 p.m., ID required).

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