on 16 September 2009
Oh my god I could never have dreamed it would be this good, Just Breathe, Amongst The Waves & Unthought Known are just 3 of the best songs to follow each other on any album they've done before.
It's getting a bit of a cliché now with PJ fans but yes this is the most accessible album they've done in ages, as well as these 3 tracks the album kicks off with 4 great rockers, Gonna See my Friend, great opener followed by the brilliant Got Some, then the poptastic but fan based controversial The Fixer. Johnny Guitar sounds different to anything they've done before and gets a great funky Mike McCready guitar work out half way through
The 3 stand outs mentioned are stunning, Just Breathe evokes Vedder's work on the Into the Wild soundtrack and is just heart breaking. Amongst & Thought are like Given to Fly & In Hiding off Yield and just soar and soar like only Pearl Jam can.
It's also the most fun album they've done, they are in good spirits and Vedder laying off the politics for once has done the record the world of good, The optimism in the lyrics is also balanced with some dark stuff as well but unlike the angry young man flavour of their previous self titled 2006 album it doesn't seem heavy and flows so much better plus we don't get anything as dire as Come Back.
The just over 36 minutes is brief but you feel anything but short changed and just feel compelled to to stick right back on. I've only listened to it on MP3 so far but have my vinyl now an intend on savouring this afternoon.
A happier PJ is a nice change and where it doesn't quite touch the brilliance of Vs, Vitalogy and Yield it bests the last 3 studio albums without a doubt. The choice to enlist Brendan O'Brien cannot be underestimated his touch is essential to the overall feel of the album and decision to utilise strings for the first time adds an angle to their music never heard before, for a band who are approaching 20 years old it is an achievement they could release an album this good.
Some may tire at the optimism included in this record and the positive energy and hope Eddie returns to the darkness of Vitalogy but this is a great mix of the freshness that we heard back when Ten was first released alongside the consistency that hasn't been heard since 1998's Yield.
on 22 September 2009
You know what? Ten was made a long time ago, these guys are fast approaching 50 and to expect them to make a shoegazing plaid clad 90s anthem album is a something of a joke.
Take this album for what it is. A collection of great, melodic, intelligent tracks. The thing that hooked all of us fans in the first place was the big melodies, the "singalongability", for all their punk posturing, at heart PJ are a no nonsense melodic rock band, so why is everyone so upset when they release an album of great tunes?
For me "Amongst the Waves" is one of the best songs they've ever written, the Fixer gets better with every listen. Unknown Thought sounds incredible up loud on a decent system and The End is beautiful...yes, it's got strings on it...who cares it sounds fantastic. Just breathe is beautiful, in fact they're all good tracks, even the throwaway pop punky ones. They got my toes tapping anyway.
Look, I used to be an ardent PJ fan and lost interest in their angsty sound in recent years as I got older , but the positive vibe on this record is something that really suits them.
Huge Choruses, no widdly solos, just good old fashioned songwriting. They actually sound like they're having a great time recording this.
Love it. More Please guys....
on 25 September 2009
After reconquer their fans and critics in 2006, with the straighforward hard-rock on "The Avocado Album", Pearl jam are back in 2009 with their 9th album, "Backspacer".
For a bunch of guys in their mid-forties, Backspacer is, quite frankly, a good record, mostly of the rock songs are up-beat with a positive vibe, and even the melodic and gentle tunes have a message of hope, hidden under sad instrumentation.
Gonna see my friend, Got some, The Fixer, Johnny Guitar and Supersonic are all short punk-rockers with some bits of pop. Got Some is particular interesting, from the new-wave intro, to the speedy chorus, the rhythm section is on fire here. Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron both shine on this one. Great song, a better choice for 1st single, in my opinion.
Amongst the Waves, Unthought Known and Force of Nature sound epic as uplifting mid-tempo songs, perfect for singalongs in concerts. Amongst the Waves is my favourite from the record, its sounds like the result of a crazy mix between "Given to fly" and "I am mine" trying to re-create "Alive"! Great chorus and guitar solo by Mccready. An instant classic.
Just a step below, are Unthought known and Force of Nature, both good tracks, with epic structures, amazing guitar work and vocals by Vedder.
Finally, the moody/laid-back moments of Backspacer appears on Just Breathe, Speed of Sound and The End. Just Breathe is one of the best love song ever written and sung by Eddie Vedder. Its very simple but beautiful. Another highlight.
Speed of Sound is a sad song about loneliness and aging. Good arrangements by the producer Brendan O'brien. The End is a very intimist, touching acoustic piece, with some shy orquestration on the background. Eddie really shines on this one.
The musicianship between band its right on top, but Eddie Vedder is particulary inspired, writing emotional lyrics, and singing like in 1993. But there's an evident lack of guitar solos by Mike Mccready, and clocking at 36minutes, there was enough space for one, or two, maybe three, others songs.
Overall, Backspacer is a good record, with cool packaging, full of catchy songs, and even if its shorter than others Pearl Jam albums, is definitely one of their most acessible, alongside "Ten" and "Vs".
My Backspacer Playlist:
1-Gonna See My Friend
3-Force of Nature
6-Amongst the Waves
9-Speed of Sound
My Backspacer rating: 7/10
on 19 February 2010
Pearl Jam are one of the most talented rock bands ever, and also one of the most frustrating. After the first two landmarks, they descended into the mire of avant-guarde music. This chain of 4 albums was certainly not devoid of great material. in fact it yeilded (oh look a pun!) some of their best.
That said it's nice to hear them sound like they're doing what comes naturally to them again. Bacspacer Is by far their most accessible album to date. The eleven songs tend to fall into the catergory of either lilting ballad or guitar driven punk, both deeply rooted in the band's pop sensibilities. Fans will recognise these as the two main staple of Pearl Jam's output, but it is safe to say that neither syle has been done better or more consistenly on any pearl jam record, or indeed many other records period.
Opening with 4 of the big rockers, all of which last 3 minutes or under , you instantly hear that the band have loosened up considerably since their last realese. 'The Fixer' is a hugely catchy anthem. All the shoe gazing forlorn feeling is gone and the song is profoundly optimistic. 'Johnny Guitar' sees them looser still, With a blusey sound they havent attempted before.
From the pogotastic opening, Backspacer then shifts tone dramatically with the achingly beautiful 'Just Breathe', their best ballad since 'Better Man'. However once again the subject matter is a lot happier than usual. rather than lamenting what he doesn't have, Vedder Seems completely ay ease with what he does have.
I could go on as there are really no songs here that arn't utterly excellent. I've not been this impressed with Pearl Jam since I first had my mind blown out the back of my skull the first time I heard 'Ten'.
Pearl Jam's ninth studio album Backspacer has probably grown to become my favourite Pearl Jam album to date, I did like it initially, but even so it just grew on me more and more with every listen. The album was released in 2009 and saw the band strip back their sound to deliver a light a fun set of rock songs with a new wave influence alongside some wonderful ballads and quieter moments.
The album is fairly short and easy to digest, there isn't a great deal of complexity in the songwriting, no overly challenging artistic tracks can be found either. Rather than make for a dull and forgettable record, Backspacer is a revelation because of this; one of the tightest and most concise records in the Pearl Jam catalougue that delivers good time vibes and tear-to-the-eye moments in equal measure.
Standout songs include the fun `Johnny Guitar,' and `Got Some,' as well as the powerful `Force Of Nature,' and `Amongst The Waves,' but in fairness, every single track is good, this is a thoroughly consistent album, bordering on the flawless.
If you really liked the direction of the previous three Pearl Jam records, Backspacer may be something of a shock, but give it a fair chance and you'll be rewarded with one of the band's best works to date.
I highly recommend Backspacer. I haven't listened to a Pearl Jam album so frequently for so long after its initial release in years. Its not big and its not complicated, but it is pretty much a perfect album nonetheless.
on 13 September 2009
For the first time since 1998, Pearl Jam returned to producer Brendan O'Brien for their 9th album. "We wanted someone to cut the songs up a bit" said Vedder, and cut them up he certainly has.
For the most part, "Backspacer" is uptempo alternative rock, not the heaviest music Pearl Jam has ever made, but equally entertaining and musically very relevant.
Lead single "The Fixer" didn't have an instant appeal to me, but give it a few listens and you really start to appreciate what Pearl Jam have done here. One interesting point to note is the song's length, clocking in at just 2:57, theres no complicated drum of guitar solos, just pure rock fun, a classic example of how O'Brien's input has influnced this record.
Elsewhere, "Gonna See My Friend" and "Got Some" are similar to "The Fixer," the latter being the better song which I expect will make a single release later on.
It takes until "Just Breathe" for the album to slow down its tone, a beautiful melody accompanying some heartfelt lyrics from Vedder make this a standout track.
From here onwards the album takes a different tone again, uptempo rock numbers from the early tracks are replaced by a more mainstream rock songs, the best of which is "Amongst The Waves" which features probably the albums best guitar solo.
Worth mentioning also is the sublime album closer "The End," a song with sad, meaningful lyrics which is beautiful in its delivery and a excellent way to bring "Backspacer" to a close.
Overall, "Backspacer" is an immense album. I would expect top 10 debuts from this in both the US and UK, plus a world tour in support.
Interestingly enough though, Pearl Jam did not renew their contract in the US with J Records, instead deciding to self release it, although internationally it will be released via Universal.
Either way it doesn't really matter, "Backspacer" is a album Pearl Jam can be really proud of, it sits up there alongside the bands best work.
Best Tracks: "Got Some," "Amongst The Waves," "Just Breathe"
on 13 October 2009
A lot of folk have grown up with Pearl Jam over the years - and if you are one of these people I would suspect that you would like this album a lot. And if you are a relativer newcomer to Pearl Jam - well I'm not sure but can't see any reason why ANYBODY with a passing interest in good rock music wouldn't like this collection of songs.
What sets it apart from, say, "Avocado" the last release - isn't so much an injection of new ideas - the band just feel somehow more "together" - the melodies and simple fills from each instrument just work really well, and Eddie's mesmerising, breaking, enticing voice is fantastic. I personally think he sounds better than he has done in years. It's maybe subtle - but there's a certain spark, a certain life about the music that has been missing on half of the last few albums. Brendan O'Brien's mix is also very articulate amongst the subtly different atmospheres of the tracks.
I normally can't be bothered breaking down tracks but:
1. Gonna See My Friend kicks off with a funky rock lick that keeps driving through the song - a solid opening with some degre of energy.
2. Got Some starts with some booming drum rolls from Matt Cameron and steams off with vigour. More tremendous chord changes and another number that benefots from Matt's great drumming.
3. The Fixer is blessed with some poppy college rock style choruses and is nice and compact.
4. Johnny Guitar keeps the driving pace of the first few songs going and Jeff's bass is nice and bold in the mix (throughout the album actually).
5. Just Breather relaxes the tempo and adds in some acoustic and strings - but it's terrific and bumps along with a really nice foot tapping groove.
6. Amongst The Waves is the slow burner of the album - building up through Eddie's tremendous vocal and Matt's crashing drums - it complements the more straight ahead rockers nicely.
7. Unthought Unknown again builds up gradually in (dare I say it) a good Coldplay sort of way and has the type of chord/vocal hook that will have you nodding sagely is the song unfolds. But it's still PJ. Even with what sounds like a piano line nicked from Hopes and Fears!!!
8. Supersonic - could have walked off of Superunknown (Matt) or VS. The fast bits work quite well but the song falls apart in the middle without needing to.
9. Speed of Sound is a kind of ambling song which feels longer than it is.
10. Force of Nature - another good rock track - it's the small detail that keeps this one going - lots of changes - little riffs and effects behind the main rhythm. And a conventional solo from Stone to finish it off. Nice.
11. The End - acoustic and strings and it's all Eddie. Vintage Eddie. A kind of slow song to finish on, but still a track deserving to be on the album.
So? No really incredible inventive tracks. But no lemons, and no experimental rubbish either. Consistently good without disappointing.
Like I mentioned at the top - maybe I have matured along with the band - this album is certainly a bit more mature (and I mean the music is obviously coming easy to the band members) withour losing a certain edge. And Eddie still sounds great - again maybe subtly more so than he's done in a long time.
Finally - the gatefold album at this price is a steal - it's certainly a mini work of art from Tom Morrow (reminded of the GTA game covers when I first saw it but with a sinsiter sci-fi edge)
So there you are - if in doubt - buy it - it may not make your hairs stand on end but you WILL enjoy Backspacer.
on 11 October 2009
I have been a Pearl Jam fan from the huge beginnings of Ten all the way through. When they released Ten they quickly become one of the best and most important bands in history and in my view, still are. It is clear to most people that the first 3 albums changed the face of rock music and while I love all the other albums, they did not have the impact as the others did, mainly due to the zeitgeist moving away from the type of music Pearl Jam and Nirvana where producing, not to any lack in quality.
However, with Backspacer Pearl Jam have created an album which in every way has Pearl Jam DNA running through it but has a new and fresh sound that pits it with the very best being produced NOW and this is why I think this album is such a triumph. At last no one is saying "it's not as good as Ten or VS" because it's good enough in it's own right. And boy is it good...good enough that at long last the music reviewers in this country which for so long have ignored Pearl Jam have woken up from their lethargy and realised the talent and importance of this great band.
It opens with a loud punk bang, not letting you forget who Pearl Jam still are, and the big arena songs like 'Amongst The Waves' and 'Unknown Thought' sound uplifting with beautiful Vedder lyrics. It has plenty of punch with some subtle and gorgeous songs which I think make a quintessential PJ album, after all, Vedder has such a great voice it is lovely to hear it in it's full glory in 'The End' which I think all fans are most sincerely hoping this album will not be.
I think this will be the best Album released this year by a very long way.
on 8 October 2009
4 Stars as a Pearl jam album.
Somethings are highly underrated in music (like pearl jam themsleves) and one of them is listenability. It may sound a little odd to hear but this album is really nice to listen to. Its a joy to hear.
After nearly 20 years of Pearl Jam, this being the 9nth full scale studio album, and having all of it's members over the age of 40 they manage to keep breaking new ground instead of just treading the old ground. They still sound like pearl jam but at thier most melodic. This isn't to say they have thrown out their raw sound, it just comes accross as a warm fuzz here instead of a jagged edge. This comes accross best in "The Fixer", the song is a microcosm of the album, its reasonably short (The album comes in at 36 minutes), uncomplicated and straighforward but a real joy to listen to and has a real lifting quality about it. This uncluttered and lose garage band vibe permiates the whole album, they almost manage a classic rock feel, having more than a few solos coupled to their brand of timeless bare bones rock.
The production to is unfussy. It's clean and dosen't try to sound too raw. it definately just lets the band sound like they just have one hell of a live set up rather than an over-zelous production team. Maybe this has to do with this being self released in the US and only losey affliated with sony outside of it. Brendan O'Brien is back to, all this adds up to a well rounded sound.
If you were expecting to a return to the hights of albums like Vitology and Vs. then you come into this with the wrong head, pearl jam is a differen band, over a decade has past. The Fear, conflict and doubt that fueled songs like "Corduroy" and the edgeyness of tracks like "Blood" has evaporated into a very content and functional band. This comes accross in the album, Eddie's Voice sounds melow and melodic, not the low mumbles that almost de-railed the likes of "Roit Act". infact there is very little wrong with this album apart from it's total lack of angst and it's modest length; "Gonna see my freind", "Got Some" and the sublime "The Fixer" all have a great driving energy behind them and obviously come from a band with plenty of enery left. Tracks like "Amongst the waves" and "Unthought known" have a build to them that turns into a soaring anthemetic quality. "Supersonice" Enherits the enegergy of the opening tracks, "Speed of sound" and "force of nature" have great mid tempo melodies that pearl jam seem to do so well. "The End" and "Just breath" provide some great and tender acoustic points that balace the album out and are just beautyful.
This is far from pearl jams best album. like nearl every band that has been arround for this long their very best is behind them. But that dosen't stop it from being a top notch album that will surprise fans. i would highy recomend to anyone with even a passing an intrest in good old fashioned rock music.
on 5 November 2009
I admit it,I am a fan of PJ, and I have yet to find an album i don`t like. Lucky for us,this one is not it. The Fixer was a great introduction to the upcoming album but a weird thing happened, a radio station was having a promotion of releasing one song each day.What was weird, that i kinda did not get the feel of the songs. They just seemed out of place and I had a cold shower about the album.I have decided not to listen the singles until I have the album in my stereo.After pressing Play button-boom! Right in the guts,first two song just rock, major live performance potential.Fixer has a old school feel to it, that awsomness.Just breathe is,obviously, a love song,mellow,slow with great songwriting. And then Amongst the waves is just brilliant followed by Unthought known with it`s slow intro to get us into a moving peek.After that we have a set which reminds me a lot on Riot act closing it with a beautiful The end, a typical PJ great closer song wrapping up this album.
It is a short album,which looks that way as you want more of it, it has,infact, 3 or 4 fast,heavy rock songs and the rest are melodic plays which will compel you to turn repeat on...But the best thing is that it`s still different than it`s predecessors showing us what they got and that the end is not even remotely close.
The guys are back and kickin...