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CiklopZ (Portugal)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to Space, with Gems and Rhinestones., 25 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Backspacer (Audio CD)
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
2-Got Some
3-Force of Nature
4-Johhny guitar
5-Just Breathe
6-Amongst the Waves
7-Unthought Known
8-The Fixer
9-Speed of Sound
11-The End

My Backspacer rating: 7/10

Chinese Democracy
Chinese Democracy
Price: £4.26

4.0 out of 5 stars "It don't really matter I guess you'll find out for yourself that ..", 24 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Chinese Democracy (Audio CD)
...the wait is over. Seventeen years after the twin-opus Use Your Illusion I & II, The Guns N Roses are back to the music business they once dominate in the late 80's/early 90's. Even if nowadays, there's only one original member in GNR (Axl Rose), the band's name is still a powerhouse in music, and that's why there's been a lot of hype surrounding this record. After former members departure, millions of dollars spent on production, leaked songs, Dr.Peppers "merchandising" and dozens of musicians used during the making of Chineses Democracy, I must say that the final product is good. In fact, very good.

Like previous GNR albuns, this one starts with a very strong and hard-rockin title-track, as you hear Axl's signature scream after 1 minute of instrumental introdution, letting whole world to know he's back, and by the time it's over, the listener won't even notice there's no Slash and McKagan on the record, and that's a good thing, or isn't?
Over the third track "Better" - in opinion of this reviewer, the strongest tune of the record -, you can hear Axl singing about his troubled heart and how to break the charms that brought him harm. This song alone resumes in 5 minutes what's been in his mind over the last decade or so. After this we're invited to walk the "Street of Dreams", a beautiful song, kind of "November Rain" cousin, with great guitar-work from Buckethead, and a Beatlesque chorus, destinated for future sing-a-longs in stadiums sold-out shows.
From now on, the album slows down a little bit, with some more melodic songs like the flamengo-tinged "If The World", the dramatic rhapsody of "There Was a Time" and the Pink Floydish "Sorry", but it never really loses the strong quality, in fact, it's in the middle of the album, that Chinese Democracy starts sounding epic in a way.
On the Led Zep-inspired "Ryad and the Bedouins", the band returns to the straight hard-rock from Appettite For Destruction, with Axl using his high pitch notes again, and then there's the best quartet of final songs in any GNR album, even if this was the only time I wonder if Axl was trying to recreate a bit Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion, on the groovy "IRS"(Paradise City), the orchestrated "Madagascar"(Estranged), the piano-ballad "This I Love"(Don't Cry pt.3?) and the grand-finale "Prostitute"(Rocket Queen).

With more than an hour, Chinese Democracy could be already considered the (first) epic, massively produced, masterpiece of the new century, but after some rotations, the music won't erase the impression of a long, but rewarded wait, making us to want more from Axl Rose&Co.(whoever they might be), but if so, how long must we wait for a new record?

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