Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best of the Oughts

The race is on to determine Pearl Jam's best song 2000-2009.  Join the tournament over at Red Mosquito Forum.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guided Tour of Binaural: Breakerfall

I've been trying for some time to find ways that I can tap into the creative energies of Red Mosquito Forum members to improve The Sky I Scrape. When stip recently posted his intro to a song-by-song review of Binaural, I realized that this is where it starts.

We're going to start out of order because Binaural is the most recent Guided Tour posted in our forum, and it's currently the most active. I hope you enjoy this weekly series as we take you through Pearl Jam's nine (and future) studio albums song-by-song.

Keep Jammin',

by stip


It didn’t really occur to me to try and write up an overview of Binaural until Backspacer, in part because I didn’t really understand Binaural until Backspacer (not that you need the later to understand the former), and in part because it’s harder for me to give a record coherence and unity with 3 different lyricists. But I think I have a take on that record now, so we’ll see how this plays out. Unlike my write-ups for Ten and Vitalogy, I have a sense of how I think this is going to go, but I’m going to be exploring these ideas as I work through the songs, rather than lay out ideas that were already pretty well formed.

Anyway, I’m starting from the perspective that pearl jam’s records are in conversation with each other, and that each album is in important ways a further development of or response to the record that came before. This makes Binaural a reaction to yield, so it’s necessary to say a few things about Yield before we really begin. Yield was Pearl Jam’s ‘we’re at peace with ourselves’ record (and a response to the questing/searching nature of No Code). It’s reflected in the record’s title and in most of the songs. It’s a record about giving way, about refusing to fight—either accepting the way things are now or refusing to engage them any further. The problem is that Pearl Jam has always been a band that swam against, rather than yielded to, the current. Theirs was the stubborn refusal to give in, to fight even when there was no chance of victory (see Vitalogy). The best song on Yield (Given To Fly) captures that spirit. The rest of them really don’t. You have the hopelessness of Do The Evolution (why fight what you can never change), the escapism of All Those Yesterdays, In Hiding, MFC, No Way. This isn’t who Pearl Jam is. Lyrically Yield is an outlier of an album. Rather than the victory lap they so desperately wanted it to be (and parts of Yield strike me like the band is trying to convince itself of something that deep down it knows isn’t true), the moment where they make their peace with the world around them, Yield is instead a seductive lie. Escape is never the safest path and deep down they know it. Their peace was a false peace, and it’s not surprising that they couldn’t maintain it for very long.

And so it seems inevitable that a record like Binaural would follow Yield. Whereas Yield is (on the surface anyway) warm and inviting Binaural is its polar opposite—cold and isolating. Where Yield embraces Binaural refuses. Yield is expansive. Binaural is claustrophobic. Yield is animated by a (false, I think) sense of completion and fulfillment. Binaural is a record haunted by ghosts it cannot name or see. There’s definitely something wrong here, and they cannot put their finger on it. They cannot name and so cannot confront the problem. Some of it is social/political and some of it may be personal (how long after Binaural came out did Eddie’s marriage start falling apart?), but it’s there. There is no peace, and it may still be a crime to escape. In fact, it may be that the escapism of Yield has helped to embed the problems that Binaural tries to confront. But the murky sound and texture of Binaural captures the spirit of the record perfectly. There is no definitive sense of what the problem is. It lacks the sharper focus of a record like Vitalogy or S/T. In the end Binaural can only flail in the dark. It’s a dispiriting, disempowering record, and lays the groundwork for the complete emotional collapse and destruction of agency that marks Riot Act. These two records constitute the low point of Pearl Jam’s catalog. The bottom drops out on Riot Act, but we can see the foundations buckling under strain on Binaural


So let me begin by reiterating that Binaural is a mood more than a narrative—I described it earlier as haunted and I don’t think I can come up with a better word. It charts a decline into powerlessness that really finds its fullest expression in Riot Act (All or None, while not as good as song, is Parting Ways with a larger reach). The songs on Binaural are about a loss of agency, and at times the frustration that comes with it.

That’s the spirit that is animating Breakerfall, I think. This is a surprisingly judgmental song, on a fairly judgmental album, and a real change of pace for a band whose dominant emotional space has always been sympathy and empathy. Breakerfall is accusatory, and is frustrated with, rather than sympathetic to, its main character. The song comes rolling out of the gate with a really strong, playful build, which in some ways doesn’t quite fit in with the seriousness of the subject matter. He’s describing someone on the verge of emotional collapse, possibly even contemplating suicide, and the band is surprisingly cavalier about it.

Again, the song is playful, almost mocking at times. The lyric that begins the song should trigger concern (a girl on a ledge with nowhere to turn), even though the music doesn’t send us that cue, but it very quickly blames her (the love that she had was just wood that she burned), and while it again raises potential causes for alarm (her life is on fire, equating her with prey—a word that has two meanings but it’s clear from the song that she lacks the agency to be the hunter—she’s the victim here) it is again immediately dismissive (it’s no one’s concern—she did it to herself). It gets even more judgmental in the second verse—with the fun ‘it’ like she lost her invitation to the party on earth and she’s standing outside hating everyone in here’ (who doesn’t know someone this applies to), and the disease (a strong word with all sorts of insidious implications) doll (which implies a certain immaturity) pairing. Maybe I’m missing it, but I can’t think of another time Pearl jam was this utterly unsympathetic to a song’s main character (that wasn’t political) like they are here. The chorus carries this over—from the dismissive repeat of the word fall at the end of the first verse to the taunting outro. The double tracked vocals add to this as well. There’s a bit of a sneer in the lower vocals.

Remember, it’s not just Eddie here. At no point is the rollicking, fun loving music of Breakerfall giving us the emotional cues we’d need to feel bad for this person. The subject matter would normally demand music that was much more serious, that treated this situation with delicate gravity. Breakerfall could easily be the song playing at the party on earth, and insists on shoving back in her face the fact that the music is not for her. Mike is practically laughing at her in his outro solo. If you don’t quite see this, try imagining swapping the lyrics to Breakerfall with the lyrics to Nothing As It Seems, or Light Years, or Parting Ways. They both become very different songs attatched to Breakerfall’s music, and none of them really work as well as they should, since it now lacks sympathy or empathy.

Even though they’re very similar musically a song like Gonna See My Friend works better because the target is Eddie, and because Gonna See My Friend feels a lot freer than breakerfall (every song on Binaural is glossed with that sense of claustrophobic foreboding). While not similar musically, the attitude is similar to a song like Brain of J, which is full of a kind of political contempt that we’re used to, but Pearl Jam would have almost always had a great deal of sympathy for the subject of Breakerfall in the past. They don’t here. Instead Breakerfall is a song looking for a target. It wants to lash out. It’s possible that this is just a mean spirited song, but I don’t think that’s right. So what’s going on? I think at its core the problem is that Breakerfall is performed by a wounded band looking to fight back, and since they don’t know who to blame they’re blindly flailing at whatever target is close by. That confusion will take center stage in the next run of songs.


Gods Dice
Light Years
Nothing As It Seems
Thin Air
Of The Girl
Sleight of Hand
Soon Forget
Parting Ways

The B-Sides and Outtakes

No Code 
Riot Act 
Pearl Jam 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All That's Sacred, Episode #58

Changes are coming to the frequency of ATS.  Make sure you give this one a listen.

Episode #58 is now available.

One show into the Euro tour and we are off to a promising start - already getting a new song, Of The Earth! Longtime listener, Andy in the UK, shot me a Facebook note about an ATS encounter from the Dublin gig: 

”So I walk up to take my spot on the floor and the guy next to me looks at my ATS t-shirt and says 'great podcast'. We start chatting and he says are you Andy from London! Ha, fucking famous lol He recognised my voice from the podcast, not only that, it was Warren or Wazza's request you dedicated to my son Luke, when he broke his collar bone back in March (iron man/Luke the uke from the Reading festival). What are the chances of that! Small world huh....” 

Stories like that totally make my day! :)

#58 entertains with some great listener requests and a few more tunes to prepare for the upcoming dates on this leg of the tour. I also spend some time discussing a few changes coming to the podcast. It’s a little chatty but I’m speaking from the heart and cuff and I hope y’all are onboard as we move onward and upward. Further, I appreciate everyone tuning in and participating over the last 58 weeks and look forward to this next chapter in the ATS story.

Then head to our forums to discuss it!

Of The Earth

Last night in Dublin, we were treated to a long-rumored b-side from the 2006 self-titled album.  It's been long debated whether Of The Earth truly existed.  Jeff dropped the name in a 2005 interview about their studio time.  Fans haven't known, since then, whether it was renamed, lost, or put away for future projects.  At least now, we can scratch "lost" off of that list.  Consequence of Sound is hosting an mp3 of the song from last night's show for your listening pleasure.  

Keep your ears open for 2X4 and Cold Concession.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Amongst The Waves Green Vinyl

It looks like we in the States are getting the shaft on this one.  Pearl Jam is releasing a limited edition (1200 numbered copies), green vinyl 45 of Amongst The Waves (B side: The End).  It looks like you can pick one up at What Records.

Philippe Cousteau, The Gulf, and Pearl Jam

 This isn't the Amongst The Waves video that is now one week past due, but Philippe Cousteau (son of Jacques) is reporting from the Gulf for CNN.  His latest report prominently features music by Pearl Jam.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Malfunkshun at the Hard Rock Seattle

Those of you in Seattle may want to head over the Hard Rock Cafe this Friday for a concert and preview up the upcoming documentary, Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story.  More info and ticket information here.

Kevin Wood with Malfunkshun & All Hail the Crown

Featuring Shawn Smith, Rane Stone, Steve Fournier Rob Day, Mike Hommel and John Hoag as well as others!

Plus a limited seating V.I.P. sneak preview of

Malfunkshun: the Andy Wood Story

A film by Scot Barbour

To be released by Universal Studios August, 2010.

Malfunkshun the grunge pioneering band started in the early eighties was fronted by Andrew Wood who later joined Mother Love Bone. The phrase Love Rock was coined by this band. After a larger than life concert experience with Malfunkshun you know this is Love Rock. Songs from 'Monument' , the upcoming release by Kevin Wood and From the North, to be released July 12th. on Wammybox records – featuring lyrics by Andrew Wood and music by Kevin Wood are featured in this set

All Hail the Crown will open the evenings music portion. All Hail is another of Kevin’s current bands –blending Kevin’s wailing guitar with the smooth vocals of a Seattle favorite Shawn Smith - 'Heavy Rock with a Sweet Edge'.Watch for thier release on wammybox in October!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Given To Cast, 6/19/2010

The June 19th episode of Given To Cast is up.

I finally got this done. I hope you enjoy it. BTW, please head over to http://www.b-drawn.com and check out some awesome Pearl Jam inspired T-Shirts. Barbara is taking PRE-ORDERS until tomorrow for The Wave t-shirt. Also, listen to the show for a chance to WIN one.

Show Notes:

The Week in Review

Song of the Week: Better Days by Eddie Vedder

GTC EXTRAS: Christmas Singles 2009 - Turning Mist and Hawaii '78

Live Rarites: Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen covered at Hartford, CT show 2010

Interview with a Fan: Barbara Alonso artist and winner of the Design Your Own T-Shirt Contest

Trivia Contest: WIN on of Barbara's T-shirts

Between the Songs: Ed talks about his daughter during Austin City Limits Show taping - Oct. 3, 2009 


Then head to our forums to discuss it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Better Days - Update

According to the Ten Club, you'll be able to purchase the Better Days single via iTunes starting next week (June 22) and the full soundtrack for Eat Pray Love starting July 10.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Amongst The Waves Coming To Video?

Hits Daily Double reports that there should be a new Pearl Jam goodie headed our way this week!

This week, be on the lookout for a new Pearl Jam video for “Amongst the Waves” that will touch on the Gulf oil spill in the gulf. The song is off to a great start at radio from the very successful CD…

All That's Sacred, Episode #57

Episode #57 is now available.

It’s getting to be that time again… Pearl Jam kicks off 11 dates across the pond on June 22nd in Dublin, Ireland and wraps up on July 10th in Oeiras, Portugal. To commemorate and prepare the lucky ones, we are featuring a few listener-suggested tracks from past European shows on ATS #57. Lots of great memories and I can’t wait to see what’s in store this go around. If the domestic tour was any indicator, it’s guaranteed to have me wishing I was there. This band continues to defy the odds – remaining relevant and getting better with age. Have fun on tour.

Just a quick note regarding emails… I appreciate anyone and everyone who reaches out to the podcast. I’ve been pretty busy and distracted lately and, as a result, have fallen way behind on responding to your letters. I just want y’all to know that I get and read all the emails and will respond as soon as I can. Just didn’t want anyone thinking I was ignoring them.

Anyway, thanks for the participation and continued support of the podcast. It’s fun doing this every week. Enjoy #57.

Then head to our forums to discuss it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Best Friends? - August 10th

Brad has announced the release date of their upcoming album, Best Friends?

Eat Pray Love

In an announcement that many hardcore fans are hoping is a practice joke, Entertainment Weekly reports that our favorite leaked track, Better Days, is Ed's contribution to the soundtrack for the upcoming movie, Eat Pray Love, based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Hooray for run-on sentences!

How about: It’s Eddie Vedder’s contribution to the Eat Pray Love soundtrack! A source close to the band has confirmed exclusively to EW.com that the track is a new original from Vedder, intended to play during this summer’s Julia Roberts-starring odyssey. Lyrics like “My love is saved for the universe, see me now I’m bursting / on one planet, so many turns, different worlds” would certainly seem to jive with Elizabeth Gilbert’s story of global self-discovery, and there’s an exotic edge to the instrumentation that could happily live in Italy, or India, or Indonesia. Eat Pray Love star Javier Bardem and Vedder are friends, which may explain Ed’s participation. And considering 7 million people or something bought Gilbert’s book, it’s a savvy involvement for anyone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Throwback Designs Continue

Looks like Pearl Jam snagged the logo from the Hawaii '78 side of their Christmas single for a retro trucker's cap, available in the 10C Good section.

Our Future's Paved with Better Days

Well, the music is all over the web, so there's no point in pretending that this bell hasn't wrung.  

Tuesday night, an employee of Monkey Wrench Records named Pete, mistakenly posted a song on the label's website.  We know a little about it.  It appears to be an outtake from the 2002 studio session that gave birth to Riot Act.  Maybe it was too optimistic for that album, which is traditionally thought of as a darker, more somber album.  The recording, which features some fine harmonium work by, one must guess, Ed, appears to have been recently refreshed.  Is the band back in the studio?  Was this considered for the Christmas single?  Is Ed working on another solo album.  We can only look over the lyrics and speculate.

I feel part of the universe opened up to meet me.

My emotion so submerged, broken down to kneeling

once listening

voices they came

Had to somehow read myself

read myself

heard vibration within my cells

in my cells

Singing ah ah ah ah ah ah

My love is saved for the universe

See me now I'm bursting

On one planet so many turns

different worlds

singing ah ah ah ah ah ah

From my heart with discipline

Put there for the teaching

In my head see clouds of stairs

Help me as I'm reaching

The future's paved with better days

I'm running from something

I'm running towards the day

when i awake

I whisper once quiet

Now I'm rising to a scream

I am me.

I'm falling free fallin

World's calling me

Above my needs

I'm soaring 

And darlin', you'll be the one that I can need,


Be free

Our futures paved with better days

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PJCollectors Update

Most fans didn't order the full Spectrum 2009 Boxed Set and most of us won't get the single for Amongst the Waves.  In case you want to gaze upon their gloriousness, PJCollectors has added scans to their collection.

All That's Sacred, Episode #56

Episode #56 is now available.

We finally got a taste of summer here in the Pacific Northwest and so it only seemed appropriate to mark the occasion on #56 with a few relaxing tunes. So imagine yourself someplace sunny and enjoy.

Next week we'll return to get folks pumped for the Euro tour. Thanks as always for tuning in.

Then head to our forums to discuss it!

The 2009 Pearl Jam Bootleg Box

Did you drop $400 on the 65-disc, 32-show complete 2009 boxed set?  I bet you wish you had!

Thanks to CopperTom for the pics!

PJCollectors Update

Most fans didn't order the full Spectrum 2009 Boxed Set and most of us won't get the single for Amongst the Waves.  In case you want to gaze upon their gloriousness, PJCollectors has added scans to their collection.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The "2009 Christmas Single" has begun to arrive!  Check your mailboxes.

Turning Mist

Mike McCready: Acoustic, Vocals, and Piano
Jeff Ament: Bass
Stone Gossard: Electric Guitar
Matt Cameron: Drums
Barrett Jones: B3

Written by Mike McCready Jumpin Cat music
Arranged by Mike, Jeff, Matt and Stone
Mixed by Barrett Jones

Hawaii '78
(by Mickey Ioanedoes)
Eddie Vedder, Boom Gaspar, Tavana McMoore

July 02, 2009 - Hawaii Theater

In memory of brother Iz with love and respect to Makaka

Recorded by John Burton
Mixed by Barrett Jones
Mastered by Ed Brooks

Merry Christmas!

The "2009 Christmas Single" has begun to arrive!  Check your mailboxes.

Turning Mist

Mike McCready: Acoustic, Vocals, and Piano
Jeff Ament: Bass
Stone Gossard: Electric Guitar
Matt Cameron: Drums
Barrett Jones: B3

Written by Mike McCready Jumpin Cat music
Arranged by Mike, Jeff, Matt and Stone
Mixed by Barrett Jones

Hawaii '78
(by Mickey Ioanedoes)
Eddie Vedder, Boom Gaspar, Tavana McMoore

July 02, 2009 - Hawaii Theater

In memory of brother Iz with love and respect to Makaka

Recorded by John Burton
Mixed by Barrett Jones
Mastered by Ed Brooks

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Moar Brad!


High Dive in Seattle, June 15h and 16th!  Tickets are only twelve stinking bucks!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All That's Sacred, Episode #55

Episode #55 is now available.

The down time before the Euro shows allows me a moment to tend to some unfinished business. ATS #55 runs the gamut with a few listener requests, a belated Memorial Day dedication, and a bit of a rant from yours truly. Time was at a premium this week and, as a result, we're a little disjointed and coming in at under an hour for the first time in weeks. I hope it still makes for a fun listen and I promise to bring some sunshine next week.

Hope everyone is well and, as always, appreciate you taking the time to tune in.

Then head to our forums to discuss it!

Into The Wild, $5

If you haven't picked up Eddie Vedder's soundtrack for Into The Wild, you can buy the download on Amazon for $5 throughout June.