Posts Tagged ‘Gigaton’

Along with fellow Seattleites Nirvana and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam will forever be synonymous with grunge, the heavy, revolutionary rock’n’roll sound from the Pacific north-west which thrust alt.rock onto the world stage on the cusp of the 90s. Their initial rise to prominence was truly astronomical, with the 15 million sales from the band’s first two albums rapidly catapulting them from obscurity to superstardom. In a career spanning almost 30 years, Pearl Jam have delivered a total of 10 studio albums.

The bar was set pretty high with their debut release, 1991’s Ten. Along with Nirvana’s Nevermind, it’s one of the main reasons grunge became a mainstream phenomenon, and it launched Pearl Jam from local small Seattle clubs to stadium shows around the world. Lesser bands could easily have folded under the pressure, but Eddie Vedder and company hung on in there, outstripping their plaid-clad contemporaries and carving out their own highly individualistic niche. Revered for their integrity and passionate live performances, Pearl Jam remain one of rock’s most successful modern rock acts and their ten studio albums to date have collectively moved around 60 million copies worldwide.

The band’s roots can be traced deep into the Seattle underground of the 80s. Bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard originally played alongside future Mudhoney stars Mark Arm and Steve Turner in legendary Seattle noiseniks Green River, whose aggressive 1984 mini-LP, Come On Down, is often cited as the blueprint for grunge. However, Green River called it quits when Arm and Turner formed Mudhoney in ’87, leaving Ament and Gossard to form Mother Love Bone with flamboyant vocalist Andrew Wood

Having inked a deal with PolyGram, Mother Love Bone promised great things, but Wood tragically died prematurely from a drug overdose and the band folded before their lone, critically acclaims album, Apple, was released in 1990. Devastated by Wood’s loss, Gossard began jamming with fellow Seattle guitarist Mike McCready, who encouraged Ament back into the fold. Mutual friend and ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons declined an invitation to join their new band, but he passed the fledgling trio’s first demo to vocalist and basketball buddy Eddie Vedder (birth name Edward Louis Severson III) who was then working in a gas station in San Diego, California.

Digging what he heard, Vedder composed early versions of key Pearl Jam tunes ‘Alive’, ‘Once’ and ‘Footsteps’. Suitably impressed, Ament, Gossard and McCready flew Vedder to Seattle for an audition, after which the new band’s line-up was completed with the addition of drummer Dave Krusen. The quintet initially played live as Mookie Blaylock (the real name of a favourite New Jersey Nets basketball player), but by the time they signed to Epic, they’d become Pearl Jam: the name reputedly (but actually erroneously) attributed to a peyote-based hallucinogenic preserve supposedly prepared by Vedder’s great-grandmother, Pearl.

Minus Krusen, Pearl Jam’s first proper studio session was with Soundgarden duo Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron, where they cut a self-titled album as Temple Of The Dog for A&M in tribute to the late Andrew Wood. As Pearl Jam, however, the band recorded their fully-fledged debut, “Ten”, in March 1991, with Alice In Chains/Blind Melon producer Rick Parashar manning the console.

Ten by Pearl Jam, LP with valsevnik2 - Ref:118972369

Released in August ’91, “Ten” was a dark, anthemic rock record which introduced the wider world to the unforgettable sound of Vedder’s charismatic, honey’n’gravel-soaked growl. Capturing the mood of the times, his lyrics mostly dealt with disaffection and social dysfunction, with ‘Even Flow’ dealing with homelessness and the dramatic ‘Jeremy’ reputedly inspired by a true story in which a high school student shot himself in front of his classmates.

The Ten  ballad “Oceans” starts the journey. Imagine you are front row, and the lights have just come up on the band. Eddie Vedder is at the mic singing, “Hold on to the thread / The currents will shift / Glide me towards you … know something’s left / And we’re all allowed to dream of the next time we touch.”

“Ten” initially sold slowly, but when the band’s reputation as an unmissable live act kicked in after they supported Red Hot Chili Peppers in the US during the autumn of ’91, the album gradually went gold and kept right on selling. It peaked at No.2 on the US Billboard chart in 1992, eventually going on to sell a phenomenal 13 million copies worldwide.

With Dave Abbruzzese replacing Krusen behind the kit,Abbruzzese joined Pearl Jam at a stressful time, forced to reckon with the band’s growing fame — and, of course, learn their entire setlist, pronto. Intrigued by the anthemic sound of ‘Ten’ he moved from Dallas to Seattle and finished out the tour Chamberlain left behind. “I think ‘Ten’ was a good record,” he told Modern Drummer in 1993. “People got a lot out of it, and I enjoyed playing the songs live with the band. But to me, being on stage and playing those songs didn’t have anything to do with the record. I had no idea about the emotions that went into it or where that music came from. I had to find where the music fit into my heart before I could put everything I had into it.” Pearl Jam toured Ten relentlessly across 1992. However, while the Seattle quintet quickly established themselves as one of the rock acts mostly likely to storm the mainstream, they were uneasy about some of the music industry’s standard promotional practices, later refusing to release Ten’s emotional centre-piece ‘Black’ as a single (or make a video for it) and insisting on scaling back their interviews. The origins of this popular song can be traced to an instrumental composed by guitarist Stone Gossard in 1990. The demo found its way to a gas station attendant in San Diego by the name of Eddie Vedder. After some initial back and forth. On the journey north, he penned lyrics about painful lost love. And “Black” was born. In 1992, with ‘Ten’ already a worldwide success, Pearl Jam’s label, Epic Records, pushed to have the song released as a single. Due to the personal and emotional nature of the track, the band refused. They didn’t want “Black” to become a radio phenomenon like previous singles “Even Flow” and “Jeremy.” “Some songs just aren’t meant to be played between hit No. 2 and hit No. 3,” Vedder told ‘Rolling Stone’ in 1993. “You start doing those things, you’ll crush it. That’s not why we wrote songs. We didn’t write to make hits.” Despite the band’s concerns, radio programmers could sense the song’s mass appeal.

Lot-Art | Pearl Jam - Vs. - 1993 Promotional Flat

The band’s anti-establishment stance ensured they again refused to make promotional films for the songs on their second album, “Vs”, released in October 1993. Commercially, it made little difference: Vs sold over a million copies during its first week of release and topped the Billboard 200 for five weeks. Overseen by producer Brendan O’Brien (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots), Vs significantly broadened Pearl Jam’s sonic palette, taking in everything from raw, feral punk (‘Go’, ‘Rats’), motorik funk (‘Animal’) and even wracked acoustic ballads such as ‘Daughter’ and ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’ were the big radio hits off of Pearl Jam’s sophomore release, but no song on the album has endured as a fan favourite more than “Rearviewmirror.” The drums and guitars propel the track with a nervous energy until Eddie Vedder explodes with the chorus around the three-minute mark, proclaiming “Saw things so much clearer, once you were in my rear view mirror.” The song is a highlight at every Pearl Jam show, often resulting in a cathartic crowd sing-along.

Pearl Jam were arguably the biggest rock band on the planet when they started to record Vs. in March 1993, but they had only about 20 songs in their repertoire. They’d spent the last two years playing those songs over and over and over on a relentless tour, and they were quite ready to lay down some new material. Reaching back to 1993’s Vs. this pummeling track “Leash” comes out of the gate with Vedder howling, “Troubled souls unite / We’ve got ourselves tonight / I am fuel / You are friends / We’ve got the means to make amends.

Like its predecessor, Vs sold in droves, eventually moving around seven million copies, but the next couple of years were a rollercoaster ride for Pearl Jam. Always admirably keen to keep concert ticket prices down for their fans, the band locked horns with music ticket colossus Ticketmaster across 1994, yet their attempt to play shows in non-Ticketmaster-controlled outdoor venues failed and they were forced to cancel that summer’s proposed US tour. There were personnel problems behind the scenes, too, with drummer Abbruzzese fired and replaced by Jack Irons after recording Pearl Jam’s third album, Vitalogy. The Former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Ironsinitially spurred an invitation to join Pearl Jamback in 1990. However, upon Abbruzzese’s firing in 1994, Irons himself reached out to offer his services — and after playing with Pearl Jamonstage, he officially joined the line-up the following year. Though he’d technically already made his recorded debut with the group, adding to the free-rock madness of ‘Vitalogy’ deep cut “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me,” he was a full creative force on their next two records, 1996’s ‘No Code and 1998’s ‘Yield’ Irons co-wrote multiple tracks, including the wide-eyed hit “Who You Are” and his experimental drumming approach – more based on texture and groove than unhinged power.

Vitalogy - Pearl Jam | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic

Initially released solely on vinyl in November 1994 (it emerged on CD and cassette two weeks later), Vitalogy was abrasive, grunge-y and highly eclectic, embracing everything from raw, frenetic punk (pro-vinyl anthem ‘Spin The Black Circle’) to Tom Waits-esque blues (the accordion-led ‘Bugs’) and the peculiar, mantra-esque funk of ‘Aye Davanita’. The experimentation was, however, balanced out by the inclusion of several of Pearl Jam’s most enduring tracks, such as ‘Corduroy’, the radio-friendly ‘Better Man’ and the haunting, anguished ‘Immortality’ – the latter reputedly a tribute to the then recently deceased Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

Despite its relatively left-field content, Vitalogy came close to repeating the success of Vs, quickly selling over a million copies in the US and earning multi-platinum certification. Pearl Jam toured Asia, Oceania and the US during 1995 to support the album’s release, and also realised a collective dream when they performed as Neil Young’s backing group on his gold-selling album Mirror Ball: a loud, aggressive record featuring long, Crazy Horse-esque tunes which was created spontaneously in the studio over just a few days. After Pearl Jam joined forces with Neil Young in 1995, two works resulted: the Young;s album “Mirror Ball” and a Pearl Jam EP called “Merkin Ball”. “Long Road,” which features Young on pump organ, was written in memory of one of Vedder’s mentors in high school. The uplift is real. Throughout, there’s a sense that we are all in this together: “We all walk the long road. All the friends and family / All the memories going around It’s little wonder that Vedder chose this song to perform on the telethon in the wake of 9/11 along with Young and McCready. The final lyric sums up its sentiment: “The sun will rise another day.

Released in August 1996, Pearl Jam’s fourth album, “No Code”, was a transitional affair, mixing pent-up garage-rock (‘Hail Hail’) with world music influences (‘Who You Are’, ‘In My Tree’) and elegant acoustic flourishes such as Vedder’s moving ‘Off He Goes’.Not initially known as an “experimental” band, Pearl Jam stepped outside of their comfort zone on their fourth album, ‘No Code’ With its wild drumming and electric sitar a band still looking to musically grow without fully abandoning the sound that launched them into stardom in the first place. Fame was starting to seem like a prison for Eddie Vedder, and he poured much of his frustration into the songs on No Code. The 63-second “Lukin” tells the tale of a psychotic stalker who broke into his home. The band was also falling apart, and bassist Jeff Ament nearly walked out of the sessions. Despite the tension, the band produced a pretty remarkable album.

It was, however, largely well received by the critics (Rolling Stone’s David Fricke proclaimed, “No Code basically means no rule books, no limits and above all, no fear”) and it again topped the Billboard 200.

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam - Record Mad

Welcomed as a return to their original anthemic rock sound, 1998’s Yield was trailed by one of Pearl Jam’s most enduring, radio-friendly singles, ‘Given To Fly’, which also provided Vedder and company with a US Top 30 hit and Top 20 success in the UK.The soaring, airy feel of “Given to Fly” was a result of Eddie Vedder’s songwriting approach. In a 1998 interview with the ‘Philadelphia Inquirer,’ the singer admitted he envisioned the lyrics as a “20-page cardboard book with a line on each page and a picture to go with it. It’s a fable, that’s all. The music almost gives you this feeling of flight”.Yield’s gem comes in quiet with Mike McCreadyLed Zeppelin-inspired riff, but by the time the chorus hits, you’re pogo-ing and clapping wildly. Vedder’s voice soars: “First he was stripped and then he was stabbed by faceless men / Fuckers, he still stands / And he still gives his love, he just gives it away.

The band had permitted several singles to be released from “No Code” and their stance towards promotional duties continued to soften with the release of Yield, for which they even consented to commission comic book artist Todd McFarlane to produce the Marvel-influenced promo video for the album’s fourth single, ‘Do The Evolution’. A song that constantly comes up in fan discussions about getting through tough times, self-doubt or any other trouble, “Present Tense” (from 1996’s underrated No Code was written by Vedder. During a Scotland show of the 2000 Pearl Jam tour, he noted that it was a kind of reminder to himself to be played when he needed to know he could weather a bad time. “You can spend your time alone / Re-digesting past regrets / Or you can come to terms and realize / You’re the only one who can’t forgive yourself / Makes much more sense to live in the present tense” he sings. The band members’ jam that makes up the second half of the song gives it even more of a sense of soaring hope.

Yield peaked at No.2 in the US and the album’s hugely successful US tour during the summer of 1998 was facilitated by the band’s decision to again work directly with the Ticketmaster agency. A celebratory live album, Live On Two Legs, appeared in November 1998, Without a doubt, Pearl Jam are one of the best live bands to emerge in the past 25 years. But for some reason, it took them over eight years to release a proper live album. Thankfully, “Live on Two Legs” was worth the wait. The 16-track album draws from the band’s 1998 summer and fall tour, which was their first outing with new drummer Matt Cameron. The set wisely skips obvious hits like “Jeremy” and “Alive” in favor of deep cuts like “MFC” and “Off He Goes.” Nearly every song on here is superior to its studio version. The only flaw is that it’s only a single disc and doesn’t capture the scope of a single great concert. The band must have been happy with the results, though: two years later, they began releasing live albums from every single concert on their tours.while in 1999 the band’s emotive cover of Wayne Cochran’s 1961 ballad ‘Last Kiss’ gave Pearl Jam their biggest single success, peaking at No.2 on the Billboard singles chart. The song also featured on the compilation No Boundaries and the band donated the proceeds to refugees of the Balkan civil war in Kosovo.

When Pearl Jam Decided to 'Yield' to Maturity

With ex-Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron replacing Jack Irons,

Pearl Jam cut their sixth LP, Binaural, in 2000. The record’s title referred to new producer Tchad Blake’s adoption of the binaural recording technique, wherein two microphones are used simultaneously to try and simulate the experience of being in the room with the band. Lyrically, this dark, brooding album frequently railed against injustice, with tracks such as Vedder’s ‘Grievance’ inspired by the anti-corporate World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999 and Gossard’s ‘Rival’ based on the Columbine High School massacre.

Going gold, Binaural peaked at No.2 on the Billboard 200 and, in support, the band embarked on lengthy tours of Europe and North America. Having long since held a relaxed view of fans bootlegging their shows, Pearl Jam began recording their gigs professionally across 2000-01 and subsequently issued a Grateful Dead-esque series of official live albums available through both record stores and the band’s fan club. The group eventually released 72 live albums during this period and set a record for the most albums to debut on the Billboard 200 at the same time.

Binaural Album Art

Cameron was already part of the larger Pearl Jam family, having played on the Gossard demos and collaborated with everyone in Temple of the Dog. So when Irons dropped out of the ‘Yield’ tour, it was obvious who they’d frantically call with a daunting request. “I got a phone call out of the blue, from Mr. Ed Ved, Stoney and [manager Kelly Curtis],” the drummer told Spin. “I was ambushed. It was really short notice. He called and said, ‘Hey what are you doing this summer?'” It was a perfect match: Cameron, a consummate professional, was able to seamlessly put his stamp on all the previous drummers’ parts, and he became an instant writer and collaborator when they hit the studio for 2000’s ‘Binaural.’ Using the heavy but intricate style he’d already showcased with the then-defunct Soundgarden, Cameron became the definitive Pearl Jam drummer, staying on through their next four LPs: 2002’s ‘Riot Act,’ 2006’s ‘Pearl Jam,’ 2009’s Backspacer and 2013’s ‘Lightning Bolt’ Equally important was his personal chemistry with the other four. “Somehow we were so fortunate, you know, we’ve had a few drummers,” Vedder said in the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech. “And you know, taking that seat in the drum school or the throne, because they’re all kings. We’re so fortunate. Every one of them is great. But Matt Cameron’s really been the one that’s kept us alive for these last 15, 16 years. At a time when we didn’t know if – we weren’t sure what was going to happen – he enabled us not just to survive, but to thrive. I mean, he’s been one of my brothers.

Pearl Jam, 'Lightning Bolt': Track-By-Track Review With Band ...

Both the European and US legs of the tour were well received, though tragedy struck when nine fans suffocated to death during the band’s set at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival in 2000. Devastated by the experience, Pearl Jam considered splitting up, but eventually poured their emotions into the making of their next album, 2002’s “Riot Act”. Perhaps inevitably, ruminations on death loomed large in the record’s lyrics, though the album included some of the band’s most sublime material, courtesy of the folksy ‘I Am Mine’ Written in 3/4 time signature, which is more commonly heard in waltzes or folk tunes than in rock songs, “I Am Mine” ebbs and flows at a jaunty pace. The lyrics tackle existential crises and what it means to feel safe. We mainly get lost in the rhythm.

The Beatles-y psychedelia of ‘Love Boat Captain’ and the looming art-rock of ‘Save You’. Even though the title is kinda silly, this song was written in the wake of the 2000 tragedy at the Roskilde music festival  (“Lost nine friends we’ll never know. Vedder finds solace just where John Lennon did, name-checking a Beatles song,I know it’s already been sung / It can’t be said enough / Love is all you need / All you need is love. He then sums it all up: “Once you hold the hand of love / It’s all surmountable. George W. Bush was near the peak of his popularity, but Eddie had the balls to write “Bu$hleaguer,” a scathing indictment of the president who was “born on third, thinks he got a triple.” The disc also marked the first effort with organist Kenneth “Boom” Gaspar; he’s been with them ever since. The group took a four-year recording break after Riot Act, and when they emerged, they seemed a little less afraid of pop hooks.

Having concluded their Epic contract with the self-explanatory anthology set “Rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003)”, Pearl Jam initially opted to self-release new records, including ‘Man Of The Hour’, a single issued in partnership with Amazon, and rarities collection Lost Dogs. Inspired by historian Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States” and friends with Vedder since a 1998 interview they sat down for together, the central idea of this 2002 B-side — “You can’t be neutral on a moving train comes straight from a Zinn book title. Pick what you care about and support it, the song says: “Rise / Life is in motion If hope can grow from dirt like me, it can be done.

Eventually, however, they signed a short-term deal with Sony subsidiary J Records for 2006’s long-awaited Pearl Jam, an exhilarating hard rock album which Rolling Stone cogently declared was “as big and brash in fuzz and backbone as Led Zeppelin’s Presence”. With the band’s loyal fanbase in wholehearted agreement, Pearl Jam debuted at No.2 on the Billboard200 and climbed to No.5 in the UK, where the band also headlined the prestigious Leeds and Reading Festivals in 2006.

The Case for Pearl Jam's Backspacer 10 Years Later | Consequence ...

Pearl Jam’s ongoing resurgence continued with the release of 2009’s Backspacer, released through the band’s own label, Monkeywrench, via Universal Music Group. By some way Vedder and the team’s most uplifting and life-affirming set of songs to date, the album found producer Brendan O’Brien returning to the control room for the first time since 1998’s Yield, and the record delivered 11 songs in an exhilarating, brevity-fuelled 36 minutes. Ranging from the swaggering ‘Gonna See My Friend’ to the nervy, Elvis Costello-esque new wave of ‘Johnny Guitar’ and the heart-melting acoustic love song ‘Just Breathe’,Pearl Jam are hardly the first band to use strings to enhance the emotions of a song, but damn if they weren’t able to take it to another tear-inducing level Pain, love, mortality — the band checks all of the heart-wrenching boxes on this one. There was  great singles like “Got Some” and “The Fixer” grabbed the attention of many fans who had given up on Pearl Jam sometime around 1999. By 2009, the band just didn’t have anything more to prove. They’d proven they could thrive without videos or any other conventional promotional tools. It was time to have fun and do whatever felt right.

Backspacer captured Pearl Jam on superlative form and it rewarded them with their first US No.1 since ‘96’s No Code.

A lot of Pearl Jam’s early music spoke of people navigating despair: the abused, the suicidal, even the homicidal. By 2006, despite political tumult in the world, the band itself seemed in a brighter but no less empathetic place. With a sharp guitar sounding the opening, Vedder pleads, “I have faced it / Life wasted / I’m never going back again.

Arriving in the wake of director Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed Pearl Jam Twenty documentary, hotly-anticipated tenth album, Lightning Bolt, continued the band’s renaissance. In many ways the logical extension of Backspacer, it was a tad darker in hue, yet every bit as accessible, with the muscular ‘Getaway’, soaring ‘Yellow Moon’ and shape-throwing, Whoesque titular song all up there with the very best in the band’s illustrious canon. Confidently becoming Pearl Jam’s fifth US No.1 album, the consistent quality of its content suggests that the best may be yet to come from this most formidable of rock’n’roll institutions. “Sirens” built around an acoustic guitar and piano, this luscious ballad unfolds slowly and thoughtfully. Eddie Vedder’s emotional vocals range from powerful to trembling, as if he’s about to cry. There’s a real sense of fragility in the words, evident in phrases like “Someday this will be over,” “All things change” and “Nothing lasts forever.” This is the grown-up Pearl Jam, a group of rock stars turned fathers and family men. They’ve faced the highs and lows that life has thrown at them and still stand to press forward to another day.

Gigaton, title and cover art of the new Pearl Jam album have been ...

It took six and a half years, the longest stretch ever between Pearl Jam albums, but “Gigaton” is finally here, In the 10-week run-up from Gigaton’s announcement until today, the band released three of the 12 songs from the album in full: the Talking Heads-inspired “Dance of the Clairvoyants,” “Superblood Wolfmoon” and “Quick Escape”

Gigaton found Pearl Jam working with a new co-producer, Josh Evans, who also contributed keyboards to “River Cross” Vedder plays the pump organ on this Gigaton closer that’s filled with dire thoughts of thunderclouds and “drifting off in the undertow.” But he chooses a silver lining instead: “Look around at the promise now / Here and now / Won’t hold us down / Share the light.

Although it’s his first production effort with them, he previously served as an engineer on a pair of songs — a cover of Brandi Carlile’s “Again Today” that appeared on a 2017 benefit album and the 2018 standalone single “Can’t Deny Me” — and has worked on solo and side projects by bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Mike McCready.

However, the band’s plans to promote Gigaton have not gone as expected. The outbreak of coronavirus forced them to postpone the North American leg of their tour, which was scheduled to begin March 18th.

POSTPONED: Pearl Jam | Bridgestone Arena

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Pearl Jam newest album ‘Gigaton’ one of the biggest rock bands in the world return to semi-brilliance this is Eddie Vedder and co.’s 11th album won’t change your life, but should boast enough vitriol to satisfy long-term fans

Assessing the work of bands that are in the truest sense of the world seminal often feels like a brutal internal skirmish. The head knows they’ve changed, aged, softened into something that feels at-times unbearably unrecognisable from their youthful defiance. But the heart, in all its fervour, wants what it knew and adored. And Pearl Jam particularly in the last decade have pandered to the former. Their last record, ‘Lightning Bolt’ (2013) was the opposite of its moniker; a gentle jaunt into middle-aged nothingness, it commanded a sense of loss for the greatness that had been. For many Pearl Jam fans, this was pretty devastating. It felt like the end.

And so ‘Gigaton’  – their 11th record and first in seven years – arrives into a curious space for the band and in a new musical status quo where guitar music seems to have taken a backseat. Yet album opener ‘Who Ever Said’ is exciting even in this climate, sounding not unlike something from 1998’s ‘Yield’-era Pearl Jam, a vestige of grown-up grunge with a welcome bluesy Stone Temple Pilots edge. It brims with hope (much-needed, right now) that evokes a sense of urgency.

‘Superblood Wolfmoon’, am album highlight, fits into that fold of brilliance, too. You can just imagine it at a festival, slotted between ‘Do The Evolution’ (1998) and ‘Hail, Hail’ (1996) with pacey, hip-shaking swagger and clever time signatures. Frontman Eddie Vedder’s silky vocals perch over Mike McReady’s riffs to perfection with melody firmly at the top of the agenda. This is the kind of song that won the band seismic radio airplay back in the ‘90s (and some backlash too) as contemporaries like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden stayed firmly in the heavy rock stable with little mainstream crossover. They’re both solid tracks, great, even, and a truly exciting start of a band renewed. But they’re sadly not always indicative of the rest of the album.

A lot hinges on single ‘Dance Of The Clairvoyants’ to follow up with some fervour. But its synth-laden noughties vibe although catchy – just feels too far from their original sound to resonate in an old world or a new one. The smoothness jars against Vedder’s vocals while McCreedy’s guitar soars try to salvage something. But we’ve entered a mediocre zone the band need to be wary of and have occasionally fallen into.

Nestled in-between is ‘Quick Escape’, which is something of a relief. A listenable crescendo of strings, bass and sonic excellence, it’s the kind of track that would slip into a live set with relative ease. ‘Never Destination’, with its classic rock vibes, tempers along slowly and delivers something thoroughly palatable. ‘Take The Long Way’ similarly sounds like a cleaned-up Pearl Jam of yore with lines such as “I always take the long way / Leads me back to you’ pushed up against frenetic licks.

Everything feels OK  – for a moment. But that’s when the sickly, MOR ‘Buckle Up’ sidles up to you and if followed by the gentle ditty ‘Comes Then Goes’. They both fall into the category of Pearl Jam tracks that sound – much like Vedder’s solo stuff – nice enough, but are pretty darn samey.

The band’s records have long featured unremarkable material – and this kind of filler gets less remarkable with each record. New track ‘Retrograde’ has its charming acoustic moments, but as this record closes with ‘Rivers Cross’  – which is one-part Pearl Jam epic, one-part cultural commentary with lines such as ‘the government drives all discontent‘ – you can’t help but look back across a legacy spinning over 30 years.

While ‘Gigaton’ features threads of similarity to 2009’s ‘Backspacer’, which boasted acid tenderness, and 2002’s ‘Riot Act’, which was all furious punk medleys, those magical moments do feel a little fleeting on this record. A handful of great songs might not be quite enough to sustain a new listener, or placate an older one.

‘Gigaton’’s saving grace? There’s plenty of malcontent here, even if Vedder leaping from amps might be a thing of youthful memory. Here his well-honed, biting lyrics signal fury at a world that seems to have lost its way entirely. The political climate comes into fire and references to grief and loss abound. A resonating line from ‘Comes And Goes’: ‘It’s all vivisection in the end’. Pearl Jam have, undoubtedly, as pioneers and figures that have shaped rock history, earned the right to make whatever the fuck they like. But the question is whether anyone is still listening any more? With this multi-faceted record, the answer is likely yes. It just won’t change your life.

Release date:March 27th on Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records,

Pearl Jam, Dance of the Clairvoyants, new single, release, gigaton, pearl jam new album,

Pearl Jam has shared their first new music since 2018 and it comes in the form of a new single, “Dance Of The Clairvoyants”. This single is the first release from their forthcoming 11th studio album, Gigaton.

Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament described his excitement in a statement following the single’s release, saying, “I can’t tell you how proud I am about this group of songs. ‘Dance’ was a perfect storm of experimentation and real collaboration, mixing up the instrumentation and building a great song, and Ed [Vedder] writing some of my favorite words yet, around Matt‘s [Cameron] killer drum pattern.”

The Gigaton album is out on March 27th via Monkeywrench/Republic Records. The 12-song LP is a follow-up to their 2013 release Lightning Bolt. Guitarist Mike McCready described the journey of making the record in a statement saying, “It was emotionally dark and confusing at times, but also an exciting and experimental road map to musical redemption.” McCready goes on to say that working on the album gave him “greater love, awareness, and knowledge of the need for human connection in these times.”

The band has recently announced a tour in support of Gigaton,