Jeff Ament

Album Review: Pearl Jam- Gigaton

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Pearl Jam since the turn of the century, has long had an interesting history when it comes to releasing new music. Their first three albums are absolute classics and are highly regarded. Then a switch happened after album number three, and things started to change. There were many different catalysts in that change and some of the material from that point on was disregarded at the time but, later became recognized for taking a chance and actually were very solid albums (No Code and Yield), while some fell flat and left people wondering what else they had in the tank (Binural and Riot Act). There were flashes though of what Pearl Jam was known for and their self titled album (or the Avacado album as many know it as) saw the band recapture a bit of what made them such a force to begin with. And then came Backspacer and Lightning Bolt. Both of which have good songs on them but as a whole, they really aren’t all that great. Which brings us to their new material and 11th studio album, Gigaton.

Gigaton is, as you’d expect Pearl Jam doing what they do. It’s got songs for everyone of their fans but, it doesn’t feel cohesive. It’s as though it was pieced together from various sessions the band has had over the course of a few years. The experimentation is welcoming but, the way it’s all arranged, doesn’t fit and leaves the listener in a bit confusion as to where this album is going. The record starts off with “Who Ever Said,” a very classic PJ rock track. This is a song that could very well have easily been heard on say VS and Vitology or even Yield. I would bet money that this song live will be one hell of a track. “Superblood Wolfmoon” is another “classic-ish” sounding PJ song but gets more into where they were experimenting. The guitar solo in the bridge section by Mike McCready is absolutely stunning though. That guy is an absolute gem and one of the most underrated guitarists. Again, this song live will go over quite well. “Dance Of The Clairvoyants” is one of the most daring songs the band has ever put out. At first it’s a bit strange but, the more you listen, the better it gets. It’s definitely out there and has a totally different vibe, venturing into almost Brian Eno territory. Lyrically, this is one hell of a song. “Quick Escape” is another solid rock tune that will again make it seem like it’s 1994 all over again. From this point though on the album is where things begin to shift and feel out of place. “Alright” provides this really interesting vibe with some introspective lyrics and a song that is very well written. “Seven O’Clock” is a very poignant song as well and could easily be mistaken for a Eddie Vedder solo song. “Never Destination” is another track that if played live, will go over extremely well. It’s got the potential to be a fan favorite for many years to come. “Take The Long Way” is a track with great guitar work and the rumbling bass gives this song a distinct vibe that feels like it could have been found on their self titled album. “Buckle Up” is a great lyrically driven song but, it’s one of the most out of place songs in terms of album sequencing. “Comes Then Goes” is a great song in terms of songwriting and arrangement abilities. It’s got this really cool “folky” sense to it with great melody. “Retrograde” is another well written song that just feels like it was placed in this spot with no proper introduction from one song to another. “River Cross” closes out the album with a deep seeded message and a bit of reassurance.

All in all, Gigaton is a solid album full of really strong songs but, it doesn’t have the cohesive feel to really make it feel whole. There is an huge sense of optimism on this album that is sure to make the listener think and when they listen again, pull other things out of it. That is something that all Pearl Jam albums have in common. They all make you get out of your comfort zone whether you like it or not. After multiple listens and then going back through the band’s catalog, I’ve come to a few conclusions about the shift that changed Pearl Jam. For one, the band is and for many many years has become Eddie Vedders. Stone Gossard was such an integral force in making Ten and VS so great but, his contributions seem to have been pushed to the side for many years. Also the drums. This is not a knock on Matt Cameron as a player but, he really just doesn’t quite fit the needs of Pearl Jam. When you go back to the albums that Dave Abbruzzese and Jack Irons played on, you can really feel the drums in a way that created a true pulse and that’s been lacking for many years.  Matt Cameron plays with a sort of drag or low pulse that can’t keep up with the way things probably should sound. Another thing that Gigaton suffers from is its mix. It’s not mixed well at all. Brendan O’Brien, the man behind the boards for many of Pearl Jam’s albums, knew how to really make each instrument shine, even if the song was meh. Granted this whole album is a bit of an experiment, the final result of the mixes makes it feel a bit unfinished. In spite of all those things I just mentioned, Gigaton, does provide the rock music world a bit of something new and seemingly fresh from a band that for 30 years, has been consistently pushing themselves to deliver something more than just the same run of the mill sort of material many would just cave in to. With the right amount of time, Gigaton will settle in nicely to the bands catalog and take its own shape.

Overall Rating: B-/C+

 

Pearl Jam- Gigaton:

 

New Release: Pearl Jam- Quick Escape

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Pearl Jam’s new album Gigaton comes out this Friday. And ahead of it’s release, the band has released a new single, “Quick Escape.” This song definitley is a rocker and it harks back to their Yield days. Which by the way, I highly suggest you taking another listen to. That is one hell of a good album. Anyways, Gigaton seems like it will be a pretty diverse Pearl Jam record with something for everyone on it.

 

Pearl Jam- Quick Escape:

 

New Release: Pearl Jam- Superblood Wolfmoon

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Pearl Jam’s new album Gigaton comes out soon (March 27th to be exact) and they just released another single ahead of its release. “Superblood Wolfmoon” is a pretty rockin jam complete with a killer Mike McCready signature solo. They really seem to be having fun experimenting with new sounds and structures on this record. Lets hope this new album is a good one.
Superblood Wolfmoon:

 

New Release: Pearl Jam- Dance Of The Clairvoyants

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Pearl Jam will release their long awaited new album, Gigaton, on March 27 2020. The first song released from said album is “Dance Of The Clairvoyants.” It’s quite a departure from the Pearl Jam you are used to. This song is quite experimental for the band. It’s got a cool Talking Heads vibe to it along with a tinge of ambience a la Brian Eno. I have a feeling that this song live will be a pretty stellar track.

 

Pearl Jam- Dance Of The Clairvoyants:

 

Alternate Versions: Pearl Jam (The Who)- Love Reign O’er Me (Live)

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This alternate version is also a cover and one of the best covers I’ve ever heard. The studio version Pearl Jam did of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” is really good but, this performance is what really does it in. After watching and listening to this version, it’s obvious that this song is now Pearl Jam’s. The performance is from the 2008 VH1 Rock Honors; The Who.

Pearl Jam- Love Reign O’er Me:

 

Deep Cuts: Pearl Jam- Green Disease

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This topic is pretty self explanatory. It’s all about exploring the deep cuts off certain albums.

Pearl Jam are one of those bands with an extensive catalog and so many great songs. A lot of these songs are not as recognized and that’s a shame because, there truly are a plethora of underappreciated songs. One song that I’ve always held in this regard is “Green Disease” from their 2002 album, Riot Act. The album itself features a diverse sound, including songs influenced by folk, art/alternative rock and some experimental rock. Lyrically, it’s one of the bands more political efforts as this album was influenced by the September 11 attacks and the changing political climate that followed. Which is where “Green Disease” plays a pivitol role on the album. Each Pearl Jam album always seems to have that one song that is very “punk” based in nature and this is that song for Riot Act. The song is all about greed and the despicable nature of it. The song is written by Eddie Vedder but, without the other guys in the band, it just wouldn’t have the same impact. This is also one of those songs that is a crowd pleaser too, though it’s only been played 65 times since the albums release.

Green Disease (from Riot Act):

 

 

Green Disease (live at Madison Square Garden):

 

Album Anniversary: Temple Of The Dog

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It’s crazy to think that it’s been 25 years since Temple Of The Dog released their one and only album. For those that don’t know, this band and album was a tribute to singer Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone (The band before Pearl Jam). This is one of those albums that still stand the test of time. I remember first hearing “Say Hello To Heaven” and “Hunger Strike” and being totally in awe of how good those songs were. Not to mention the guitar solo by Mike McCready on “Reach Down.” Seriously, Mike is one of the most underrated guitar players in the last 25 years. The entire album is from start to finish tremendous. There are a few things I find very interesting about this album. One, that it was made and released before Soundgarden put out Bad Motor Finger. Two, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down” were written by Cornell in direct response to Andrew Wood’s death. While the rest of the songs were written about various topics. This is one of those albums that should be in everyone’s collection. It’s just so damn good.

 

Temple Of The Dog: