Video: James Iha – “To Who Knows Where”

There’s something hilarious about seeing James Iha knock over a tray of cookies. You’d expect that sort of behavior from former bandmate Billy Corgan, not James. But on the video for “To Who Knows Where”, we have plenty of similar oddities; Iha also traverses a desert climate in winter clothes, and finds a beautiful model in the middle of nowhere. She ends up pulling a gun on him eventually, but who can blame her after he ruined a quality batch of cookies? The extraterrestrial-like sphere in the middle of the desert is also a fun one.

“This video is our homage to the cult classic, from the cinematography to the wardrobe styling,” Iha said. “The general idea was to allude to weird story lines that were never explained. I come down from another planet, there are men following me, there’s a mysterious woman, and I hope to find my way back to my home planet. It’s like a lot of 70’s movies.”

It’s an odd but visually stimulating video for a highlight off Iha’s sophomore full-length Look to the Sky, his first since 1998’s Let It Come DownThe album is a vaster and more experimental effort than Let It Come Down, and the variety of high-profile collaborators certainly helps. Legendary Television frontman Tom Verlaine adds guitar on the breezy jangle of ”Till Next Tuesday” and fierce blues-rock of “Appetite”, both clear standouts. Pianist Mike Garson, who has played with everyone from the Pumpkins to Bowie, also appears on “Appetite”, probably the most fascinating track on the album. Hearing Verlaine and Garson jam sounds even better than expected. Also don’t forget to include Yeah Yeah Yeahs members Nick Zinner (guitar on “Dream Tonight”) and Karen O (vocals on “Waves”).

The album is certainly not without songs that capitalize on Iha’s signature mellow-pop sound, though. The highly accessible “Summer Days” sounds a lot like the material on Let It Come Down, thanks to its bubbly energy and upbeat stream of acoustic strums and playful keys. It was written and produced with Nathan Larson, the husband of The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, who sings on “Make Believe” and “Till Next Tuesday”. Iha has not only improved on the best aspects of Let It Come Down with familiar gems like “Summer Days” and “Till Next Tuesday”. He has also introduced many new elements to his sound, most of which succeed immensely, like “Appetite”.

Look to the Sky is currently only out in Japan through EMI Japan, but will be out stateside September 18th on The End Records.


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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