James Iha – Look to the Sky
James Iha's first solo album (1998's winsome Let It Come Down) served as a pleasant-enough, if underwhelming, soft rock missive from one of the alternative music scene's most unassuming axe-men. Look to the Sky is a similarly unspectacular affair: opening with the startlingly pretty Make Believe before unleashing a couple of lush, layered dream pop numbers, it's a frequently charming record that falls off disastrously in its second half.
Iha wrote a handful of fantastic tunes during his years in the Pumpkins (Blew Away, Said Sadly, Go, etc etc) but even the highlights of Look to the Sky sound amateurish in comparison: Speed of Love provides one of the album's strongest hooks in spite of its cringeworthy lyrics, whilst Till Next Tuesday is a serviceable facsimile of mid-nineties British indie. Unfortunately, Iha really lets himself down on the album's home stretch, deploying a punishing string of clunkers that range from merely tedious to completely unlistenable. [Mark Shukla]