Jimmy Chamberlin

Life Begins Again

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Though it's billed as his band first and foremost, in ways it's more accurate to call the solo debut of Jimmy Chamberlin, the brilliant jazz-into-hard rock drummer who helped make the Smashing Pumpkins deservedly famous, a collaborative effort growing out of jams with a guy named Billy. Not with Billy Corgan, though he does show up to do vocals on the gently moody "Lokicat" -- interestingly, with lyrics from Chamberlin, who wrote them throughout, aside from one song. Instead, Chamberlin's partner is one Billy Mohler, a journeyman songwriter and musician who's worked on a variety of efforts before this project. Chamberlin's sonic stamp, however, is the unsurprising core of Life Begins Again, as one listen to the rolling, rapid-fire fills on the opening "Streetcrawler" demonstrates; the similar deftness of touch mixed with power is on display throughout, showing that if anything his abilities haven't suffered even after personal and professional upheaval. This said, some songs can sound, well, a lot like the Smashing Pumpkins -- not constantly and entirely (guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme can crank up the feedback but even the often-brawling "Cranes of Play" doesn't turn into monstrous riff mayhem), but there's the same sense of aggro and delicious melancholia on display, more than once suggesting what a version of Adore with Chamberlin on drums might have sounded like. One of the most inspired moves on the album is the use of guest vocalists as the album alternates between instrumentals and vocal numbers. Besides Mohler (on the shoegaze-tinged "Neverwaves") and Corgan's turn, there's a guest spot by Righteous Brothers legend Bill Medley on "Lullabye to Children." Perhaps most enjoyable of all, however, are the two songs sung by Catherine Wheel frontman Rob Dickinson, whose warm, aching voice fits in perfectly on the title track and "Love Is Real." Meanwhile, among the instrumental highlights are "P.S.A.," which besides being a fine showcase for Woolstenhulme gives Chamberlin a chance to go drum crazy on the break, and the more overtly jazz jam of "Owed to Darryl."

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