Monday, November 29, 2010

On a Side Note: Ed's Aussie Dates

Sorry for the short post, but my day job is calling.

G'day Mates!

Ed Vedder is heading down under for his first ever Australian solo tour kicking off on March 10th in Brisbane, QLD and ending on March 27 in Adelaide, SA. Evil J & Saint Cecilia will open these shows.

We are happy to announce a special Ten Club only ticket pre-sale for members active as of Monday, November 29th at 6:59pm Australia NSW (that's Sunday, November 28th at 11:59pm PST in the US). If you are not already a member, you will not be eligible for the pre-sale. Sorry, tickets are very limited.

The pre-sale will begin Thursday, December 2nd at 9am Australia NSW time (that's Wednesday, December 1st at 2pm PST in the US). The pre-sale will end on Saturday, December 4th at 9am for Australia NSW (that's Friday, December 3rd at 2pm PST in the US) or until tickets are gone. Please check for time zone conversion.

Ed Vedder Solo Tour Dates:

March 10: QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD

March 12: QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD

March 15: Royal Theatre, Canberra, ACT

March 16: Civic Theatre, Newcastle, NSW

March 18: State Theatre, Sydney, NSW

March 19: State Theatre, Sydney, NSW

March 24: Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

March 25: Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

March 27: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Supersonic

I'm thankful for the great original content that Stip provides for TheSkyIScrape! -B

by stip


Backspacer begins to stumble in its middle act. Amongst the Waves fails to live up to its potential. Unthougth Known comes closer but in the end is too skeletal a song to sustain its heavy ambitions (although it deserves credit for its magnificent reach). Speed of Sound, as we’ll see, is a difficult and complicated song that is hard to get a read on. But for me the real weak spot in Backspacer is Supersonic, which lacks the wild abandon of spin the black circle, deceptive intensity of All Night, the tongue in cheek attitude of Don’t Gimmie No Lip (which is a stupid, but nevertheless charming song), or the playfulness of Black Red Yellow. Supersonic is Pearl Jam trying to convince its audience that it’s having FUN, and not entirely succeeding. In fairness, I should disclose that in general I’m not a fan of this kind of power pop, so Supersonic was going to have a hard time winning me over. If nothing else, Supersonic means I no longer have to wonder what Mankind would have sounded like with Eddie singing and for that I’ll always be grateful.

Musically it’s simple, but it’s decent. I like how the song revs up at the start (and how it comes out of the bridge), and there is a catchy head bopping quality to the music, an innocent brightness to the whole thing that is kinda fun. The bridge solo is good, but utterly utterly out of place—almost like they had this really good 30 seconds of music and were struggling to find a place to include it on the record. I’m not sure what purpose it serves here. It’s a nice piece of music in a song celebrating music, but without stronger transitions it feels like an afterthought. It’s also one of the more muscular moments on a record that, outside of Johnny Guitar, doesn’t have many. This is not necessarily a problem for the record as a whole, as most of the songs don’t require these moments, but then again neither does Supersonic. They should have saved this for whenever they plan to release Of The Earth. It would fit in much better there. The end of the song is a bit flat as well—it cries out for more yeah yeahs and probably an outro solo. Even an extra 15 second would have been enough, but what was supposed to be an exclamation point ends up sounding like a period. Supersonic just kind of stops, rather than taking off as the title demands.

Vocally I’m not a huge of fan of Eddie on this one. Some of this may just be personal taste (I just don’t like how he actually sounds—there’s too much U and Leatherman in here, two Pearl Jam songs I really just hate listening to), but I don’t feel like there’s any real character to Eddie on this one. He’s in theory completely swept up in his love of music and the spirit of the moment, but there’s no abandon here, no reckless surrender like there is on Spin the Black Circle. There’s enthusiasm, but no celebration. It’s genial and friendly, but it’s not passionate. I feel like I’m getting a 1950s advertisement for music: Good Clean Wholesome Fun. He starts to recover during the outro, but it’s too little too late.

Lyrically Supersonic is fairly bland but that’s okay. It’s not a song begging for strong lyrics (although they would, of course, make the song better). The problem is that the lyrics actually end up further undermining the performance. “I catch a break, then a punch to the head”—where is the punch to the head? The follow up line works “I smile big with a toothless grin”—it fits the happy, pleasant, innocent vibe of the song—but the rest of the actual lyrics demand more. I alluded to this earlier, but the title itself demands a speed and momentum that the song lacks. There’s no sense here that music ‘took my soul’ or ‘I don’t need you to live, but I’ll never let you go” or ‘I need to hear it, need to feel it loud’ and ‘I wanna live my life with the volume full.’ The song celebrates an all consuming passion in the form of a pleasant diversion.

In theory Supersonic makes sense on Backspacer, although perhaps not here. Early on, in the purer celebrations of the moment devoid of reflection (the back half of the record is certainly more self aware than the first half) Supersonic would fit in perfectly well, and the song could feed off of the momentum and energy of those earlier numbers. It could rely on its surroundings to overcome its shortcomings as a stand alone piece. But Supersonic is not a logical follow up to the Amongst the Waves and Unthought Known mission statements, nor is there any useful connection to the sober reflections in Speed of Sound. Maybe the song is useful as a footnote, a reminder to the listener of what came before, but Backspacer is a quick record that probably doesn’t need the reminder in the first place, and given the weaknesses of the song, Supersonic ends up acting more like a long digression in the middle of a paragraph. Rather than remind you of where you’ve been, it simply distracts you from where you’re going. The song means well, and it doesn’t have the ambitions to be truly offensive (and the music is good enough), but this is the only song on Backspacer whose absence would definitely improve the album.

Other songs in this series:

Good Section: Pearl Jam's Black Friday Sale

Had your eye on something nice in the Goods Section?  Now's your chance.  Members can now get 20% off any product in the Goods Section with the coupon code: SPECTRUM.  The sale begins tonight at 12:01am (ET?) and ends Sunday evening (Monday morning) at 12:00am (ET?).

MEMBERS ONLY Black Friday 20% Coupon Code: SPECTRUM.

Enter "SPECTRUM" in the coupon code box at checkout and receive 20% off all items in the goods section except Memberships. Coupon will be valid Midnight Thursday 11/25/10 (12:00:01am Friday 11/26/10) until Midnight Sunday 11/28/10 (12:00:00 am Monday 11/29/10). Please contact with questions.

Happy Holidays!!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Meet Your Blogger: DirtyFrankDahmr

[click for the full photo]

ON-LINE PERSONA: DirtyFrankDahmr



LOCATION: New York, New York, USA

DAY JOB: Entertainment Attorney



Mike (he’s a rock legend and a great guy)


My Ten Club number is 61,XXX from way back in the day, and my running total in the Goods section since 2003 is over $7000 (mostly spent on tickets and posters).

It started in high school. In 10th Grade my friend Stew and I caught on to the Alive video and then Ten. When Pearl Jam came to our area, we missed out on buying tickets and had to pay $100 each to scalpers. For a couple of high school kids that was an unbelievable amount and our seats turned out to be in the upper rows at the back of the arena. We ended up planning to go with two other guys in our class who had also gotten into Pearl Jam. 

We counted down the days to the show with decreasing numbers posted on our lockers. I found myself bonding with these two other guys as we talked more and more about the show and got increasingly excited.

On the day of the show, April 8th, 1994, we sat in traffic on the way to the venue and that was when we heard on the radio that Kurt Cobain had died. It was a huge blow and very sad.

The show opened with Release and the band was clearly distraught and emotional. After a few songs Eddie said that they weren’t sure they could go on and they would probably play one song and that would be it. But they played on, and I felt like we all grieved in that room that night as a family. I think we also celebrated a bit of the power of music and the incredible effect Kurt Cobain had on all of us in the short time he was around.

That show has had an everlasting effect on me. It was the best Pearl Jam concert I will ever attend. The show was in April, and by December my concert buddies and I were an inseparable gang and the whole school knew us as “The PJ-4.” We had bonded over the joy we experienced at that show, and the grief, and most importantly, the music. I became obsessed with the music.

These days my interest in pearl jam is based mainly on the euphoria I get from the live shows. I just cannot beat going to a Pearl Jam concert and singing my heart out, relating to the lyrics and dancing with the band and the great friends I’ve made over the years. The PJ-4 are still the best of friends. We go to shows together all the time, we all talk almost daily, and I consider them family. My friend, Josh, recently had a daughter, and they gave her the middle name “Pearl”.  Sixteen years and over 60 shows later, I’ve also picked up many new and cherished friends along the way.

For years I have spent hours a day searching for new Pearl Jam news, new music, new bootlegs, new posters, etc. I would always send mass emails to my friends with whatever big announcements I could find. There would be 8 or 9 people on the emails and that was it. It’s very time consuming to have a Pearl Jam obsession and law school and a new career, so I could never make the time commitment necessary to be a real blogger, and I was never interested in getting too deep into the forums communities because I just didn’t have time. I did have a few failed attempts at trying out Pearl Jam blogs and Pearl Jam podcasts with friends, but the momentum would fizzle out. Twitter is perfect for me because it reaches more than 8 people, it’s always required to be brief, and it takes me a few minutes every day. There turned out to be the added bonus that it was super easy to post set lists and picture from shows… so for me, it just happened to be the perfect platform to get involved and give back to a community I have always wanted to be a contributing part of.

First and greatest, April 8th, 1994. 

Collection of what? Obviously I have a ton of bootlegs. I have just about every vinyl they’ve done, but my prized collection are my posters. My collection is extensive and includes every show I’ve attended, a few other 96’s, most of the 98’s and pretty much every Pearl Jam poster since 2000. Truth be told, I’m obsessed with poster collecting because of Pearl Jam. I have been an active member of the Red Black Yellow Pearl Jam forum for poster fanatics for years. These days I collect concert posters of all sorts. My dream is to one day open a gallery or poster shop in New York. When I was in college, there were a few great concert poster shops, mainly in Greenwich Village, but now they are mostly gone.

Every time I listen to a bootleg something new touches me. I’ve always really cherished “If I knew where it was, I would take you there, there’s much more than this!” from Breath. Lately I’ve been very into Supersonic’s “truth be told, I wanna live my life with the volume full.”

The Features and The Upwelling are my two other favorites. I’m also very into British radio – I listen to BBC Radio One every day and love Biffy Clyro, Marina & The Diamonds, Jenny Lewis, Ray lamontagne, Need To Breathe, The Thermals, Elbow, Muse and I could go on...

I'm an entertainment lawyer in New York. I go to a lot of show and hang out with my girlfriend. I run a website that promotes and produces events in New York, I also help with a local charity started by 25 New York music bloggers who have come together to produce an annual summer music festival in Brooklyn called After The Jump Music Festival, and the proceeds from that are donated to local school’s music programs.

Music is my main passion; it keeps me sane and gets me through the day. I see a lot of non-Pearl Jam shows.

Food, travel, and tv shows like Lost (R.I.P.), Community, Modern Family, True Blood, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, etc.

Donny, All That's Sacred
Jason Leung, This All Encompassing Trip
Stip, The
Victor Nogales,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy New Year? Yes!


Go ahead and buy your glasses now, because 2011 is already shaping up to be an epic Pearl Jam year!

We've learned quite a bit in the last week.

Is it too early to start a Top Ten Best Pearl Jam Moments of 2011 list?

Ninety Artists Urge Obama to Stay Focused on the Gulf

Pearl Jam joins 89 other artists in writing to President Barack Obama, urging him to stay focused on the recovery of the Gulf of Mexico and to ensure oversight of future drilling decisions.  For more information about Pearl Jam's environmental advocacy or to learn ways that you can get involved, visit

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

November 18, 2010

Dear President Obama,

As you are well aware, the BP deepwater drilling disaster has delivered a severe blow to the marine and coastal environments of the Gulf Coast, as well as the communities which rely upon a healthy Gulf for their economy and way of life. These communities are the originators and guardians of some of our nation’s most unique cultures. As musicians, we are all in debt to this irreplaceable region, and are calling on you to help ensure its survival:

The BP disaster is on-going and will have lasting impacts. There are still tens of millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf and much more dispersed oil – and chemical dispersant itself – below the surface. The BP drilling disaster was at least 15 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill, and we know from Alaska that the ripple effects of the disaster will be felt for decades. It will be a long road to restoration, and the Federal government needs to stay focused on the disaster and environmental impacts that are just beginning to play out.

The BP disaster has taken a toll on the Gulf Coast, and real impacts will be felt by real people for years. The Gulf’s people and places need lasting and continued support to get back on their feet. Fishing, recreation, seafood and tourism are cornerstones of the Gulf economy. These industries hang in the balance because of the disaster. Thousands of families’ lives have been profoundly affected, with much of the damage having long-term consequences – physically, emotionally, and financially. Resources and support must be accessible to all those affected in order to make Gulf communities whole again.

BP’s disaster is only the latest, most visible example of on-going environmental destruction in the Gulf by the oil and gas industry. Louisiana loses a football field worth of wetlands every 45 minutes, and 40 to 60% of that loss is attributed to oil and gas activity, including exploration and dredging pipeline canals. The oil and gas industry must pay its fair share to restore these wetlands, and a large portion of the fines levied against BP should be dedicated to on-going restoration efforts through your Gulf Restoration plan implementation.

Let’s not let it happen again. Reforms are urgently needed to prevent more drilling disasters. BP is not a rogue actor when it comes to taking big risks at the expense of the Gulf. Regulatory reforms and policy changes are urgently needed to prevent future drilling disasters and ensure oil-rig safety in the Gulf and elsewhere, and to guarantee rapid cleanup when accidents do occur. Your administration needs to follow through with the overhaul of federal agencies, separating the functions of enforcement and royalty collection. Ultimately, the solution is to transition our nation to a clean energy economy as soon as possible.

Locals must have a voice in decisions that will impact their region and their homes. A Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council must be formed to ensure that impacted communities are formally involved in the oversight of future drilling decisions and oil industry actions. As the citizens of Alaska have done in the years following the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, citizens of the Gulf must also become more engaged and take responsibility for keeping the energy industry and government accountable.

President Obama, we appreciate the initiatives you’ve launched to help the Gulf recover, from the demand for a $20 billion trust fund for community damages, to the creation of a Gulf Coast Recovery Plan, headed by Navy Secretary Mabus. Please do all you can to ensure these efforts address the concerns we’ve raised, and help the amazing and irreplaceable cultures of the Gulf region remain vibrant and productive for generations to come.


Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys

Anders Osborne

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux

Big Don

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Big Sam's Funky Nation

Blue Party


Bonnie Raitt

Boots Riley (of The Coup)

Boys Noize

Brian Coogan and Mike Dillon

Cedric Burnside & Lightnin Malcom

Charlie Wooten Project

Clint Maedgen

Corrosion of Conformity

Cyril Neville

Davis Rogan

Dead Confederate

Derrick Freeman (of Kermit Ruffins)

DJ Zkosta


Dr. John

Egg Yolk Jubilee

Fatter Than Albert


Fitz & the Tantrums

Fleur De Tease


Garage A Trois

George Porter, Jr. and Runnin' Pardners

Happy Talk Band

Helen Gillet

Honey Island Swamp Band

Indigo Girls

Interparty System

Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes

Johnny Vidacovich

Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights

JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys

Kellindo Parker (of Janelle Monae)

Kristin Diable


Locos Por Juana

Marc Broussard

March Fourth Marching Band

MC Sweet Tea


Miracle at St. Anna

Morning Life

My Morning Jacket


New Orleans Bingo! Show

Noisician Coalition

Nu Guise

O’ Brother


Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne

Paul Sanchez and the Rolling Roadshow

Pearl Jam


Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Quintron and Miss Pussycat


Rise Against

River City Extension

Rock City Morgue

Rotary Downs


Smokey’s Farmland Band

Sons of William

Soul Rebels Brass Band

Stanton Moore Trio

Stone Rabbits


Swiss Chriss

Tab Benoit

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down

The Baseball Project

The Local Skank

The Minus 5

The Radiators

The Young Fresh Fellows

Theresa Andersson

Times Two

Tin Men

Trent Reznor

Voice of the Wetlands Allstars



Good Section: The Mystery Vinyl Single Sale

Pearl Jam has just announced the Mystery Vinyl Single Sale!  Hurry over to the Goods section.  There are less than 2000 total singles and waaaaay less of the rare ones!  It's $10 with free shipping and each Ten Club member can only buy one.  Here's what they have on hand and how many are available:

1991 LET ME SLEEP (1) 

1994 ANGEL/RAMBLINGS (less than 800) 

1995 MERKIN BALL (less than 550) 

1996 OFF HE GOES (less than 125) 

1996 OLYMPIC PLATINUM (less than 125) 

1997 GIVEN TO FLY (less than 125) 

2009 FIXER- BLUE (1) 

2009 FIXER- ORANGE (less than 10) 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Unthought Known

by stip

Unthought Known 

Alongside The Fixer and Amongst the Waves I’d argue that Unthought Known is one of Backspacer’s critical thematic moments—one of the songs that defines the record. Whereas The Fixer celebrates the moment of action, and Amongst the Waves rewards its subject with the blessing of a spiritual peace earned through a lifetime of struggle, Unthought Known is a song about promise and possibility, about not just experiencing the world as an agent, but of appreciating the world for what it is—a stage on which we are able to act, and through the process of action, define meaning, fulfill potential, and create ourselves. In this, Unthought Known is a more reflective exploration of the moment captured in The Fixer—it gets caught up in the same emotional space, but it takes the time to stop and look around, to marvel at the gift of agency.

The start of Unthought Known immediately brings to mine Wishlist, and while some of this is superficial similarity (the palm muted beginning) the tone is similar as well—the quiet determined desire to think about the world and your place in it, and follow those thoughts wherever they lead. As in Wishlist, this simple foundation is given its weight and gravity by the way the rest of the band colors in the empty spaces and gaps left by the melody—as if the melody is the act of thought and the musical flourishes the content. But where Wishlist (one of my favorite songs on Yield) stays in a quiet and sober place, Unthought Known quickly finds itself overwhelmed by the majesty of the universe, and the certainty that, for at least this moment, we belong. The band does a wonderful job here conveying this sense of wide eyed wonder and cosmic liberation with the rapid fire build and sustained climax—the way the instruments pile onto each other (the chiming guitars whispering their promises and 33, the sense of purpose conveyed by the drums at 48 seconds, the liberation offered by the piano at 1:05, and the way it all comes together to celebrate the joy and possibilities found within existence at 1:20. Even a year later my heart beats a little faster as the music sweeps us up into an expansive celebration of life itself and essentially maintains this high for essentially the rest of the song—we come down after the bridge, but only temporarily, and simply so the song can lift us up again.

In some respects it’s an exhausting ride. Unthought Known attempts to maintain a climax for basically the entire song (minus the brief build in the beginning and the cool down at the end), with little time for the listener to rest or come down. This is a surprising approach for a reflective song to take, and the music is not always up to it (or perhaps it is the production). Once the song reaches its high (the gems and rhinestones lyric) and plateaus there isn’t really a whole lot of variety and so the high has to sustain itself primarily on what is already there. It works great the first few listens, but once it’s familiar it starts to feel a little thin, like it exhausts itself. Given how much energy this song has to consume to occupy its space what we’re given needs to sound richer than it does. The simple production aims to capture the clarity and purity found in the moment of epiphany that Unthought Known chronicles, but it needs more. It’s at about 1:45 (after the ‘path cut by the moon lyric’ where the song enters what I suppose passes for its bridge) that the song starts to feel slightly empty. Not starved, mind you—but it definitely needs to sound fuller than it does.

Vocally and lyrically this is one of Eddie’s stronger performances on the record and, interestingly enough, one of the weaker vocal melodies, although the later isn’t as necessary because the former is so stronger. Eddie commits to the song right from the beginning, with a child like sense of wonder, enthusiasm, and joy, filtered through the experiences an older, wiser man returning to a place he never expected to see again. This is what Amongst the Waves (the chorus anyway) needed to sound like. Usually I find Eddie less persuasive on his advice/wisdom songs, where he tries to impart the listener with the lessons he’s learned from his own life and his own experiences. But it works quite well here because, unlike a song like Life Wasted or Love Boat Captain, he isn’t pleading and he isn’t telling us something he half expects us to reject. Instead he’s asking us to share a moment with him, and since Eddie’s power as a vocalist comes from his empathy, his willingness to commit to the experience he’s describing and invite us to do the same, this approach, and the final product, ends up being much more persuasive.

Lyrically some lines here are better than others (Eddie has always been an inconsistent writer, even when he’s on the top of his game) but the key lines here are great, and capture and communicate in provocative lines and stunningly simple images the spirit of the song.

It’s a slow start for sure, with the first four lines (‘all the thoughts you never see’ through ‘yeah this is living’) being pretty unmemorable, almost like he’s rushing through them to get to the parts of the song that really matter (it’s not surprising that the song takes off musically, vocally, and lyrically at the same place). But since this song (unlike most pearl jam anthems) captures a moment instead of telling a story the introduction isn’t as critical as it is on a song like Alive or Given To Fly.

The call to ‘look for love and evidence that you’re worth keeping’ is perhaps a little syrupy, but it’s a wonderful sentiment that cuts to the heart of what Pearl Jam’s music is about. They had always rejected the nihilism of their peers and believe that there’s a core within just about everyone that’s worthy of love and salvation. It’s easy to lose sight of that in a world full of institutions and social arrangements that separate us from the world, each other and ourselves, and so we need that reminder.

He does a great job running with his nature metaphors (and thankfully they aren’t all water based), capturing the mystery and majesty of our world (this song might not have been out of place during some of the landscape montages in Into the Wild), reminding us that we’re blessed to be a part of it, and that within it are unlimited possibilities if we’re prepared to reach for them. Obviously this is oversimplified and the band knows better, but at the same time this is the only way out of the dead end of Binaural, Riot Act, and even S/T—the moment of critique can show you what needs to change, but it cannot inspire you to actually make the change—that in order to act there needs to be both a way forward and a belief that this way points to a better world. And the images in Unthought Known are pregnant with that empowering sense of hope and possibility—the beauty of a pool of blue sky, the way in which love takes a void and fills it with light, the sense of oneness with the world that makes you think that the moon shines down to light YOUR way, that within the sound of the waves is secret knowledge only yu can understand, that the world holds its breath for you. The gems and rhinestones lyric is my favorite in this sequence—in part because it’s delivered with such ecstasy but in part because of the juxtaposition between the two—the way in which the world is going to offer you its gems, its tokens of objective value, and its rhinestones, it’s potentially valueless moments that we can make priceless by assigning value to them ourselves, and that the meaning the world has is up to us—that there may be no difference between gems and rhinestones. Again we can argue about whether or not this is true in reality, and it’s an important conversation to have, but it’s also important that on occasion we truly believe that there is no difference.

The nothing left bridge is a little tricky since it’s not clear what he’s talking about. Given the way Eddie exults in the delivery I take it that there’s nothing left of our burdens, nothing between us and the joy of pure experience and limitless possibility, especially given the lyrics that bookmark it. The other high point of the song (and Eddie’s delivery draws attention to this) is the ‘dream the dreams of other men/you’ll be no ones rival’ lyric which, with a slight change, Eddie delivers twice in a row. It’s a great line, in part because of its ambiguity. What does he mean by rival? This is not the only way to interpret this line, but given the surrounding context I think of it as a challenge to build relationships with other people like the relationship with the universe that the rest of the song celebrates—that if we bind ourselves to each other, if we commit to the lives of the people around us, if we’re prepared to love them and learn from them, the barriers between us fall. We free ourselves from the artificial restraints that keep us from each other, and in the process, from ourselves—that we really discover who we are through this sense of communion with the world, with each other, and with ourselves. We complete who we are through the merging of the three.

The song comes down from its extended high to end on a sober note. This is the ideal. We’re not there yet. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were. Unthought Known lays out the possibility, at an emotional level, of a richer, fuller world—one that we belong to rather than stand in opposition of, and asks us to commit to that vision.

Other songs in this series:

On a Side Note: Brad in LA

Brad has added an LA show and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to their December plans.

Sunday, December 5: The High Dive: Seattle, WA

Monday, December 6: The High Dive: Seattle, WA

Tuesday, December 7: Jimmy Kimmel Live! (airs at 12:05am ET/PT)

Wednesday, December 8: The Roxy Theatre: Los Angeles, CA

Also, has been watching [former NIN drummer] John Freese's twitter account.  Turns out, he's busy with Stone on some unspecified studio work.  Maybe it's that long-anticipated Stone Gossard solo album! *snort*

Did the Seattle Science museum w/Black Francis this AM. Recording now w/Stone Gossard. Off 2 APC sondcheck in 30mins


Not in Pearl Jam. Matt C is very much still a PJ member. Just was doing some recording with buddy Stone.

On a Side Note: Ed Tour in the Near Future?

If not Ed, than who?  The vague post on Pearl Jam's official message board doesn't tell us a lot, but we'll be verifying our Ten Club membership nonetheless!

‎"The little birdie stopped by and proclaimed in a deep bellowing voice,“I am the great and powerful Birdie!”

“WTH?” we said.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” declared the Birdie.
“One man stands alone?” we said.
...“Tweet,” said Birdie before he flew away.

So, be sure your memberships and addresses are up to date by the end of this weekend or you’ll be singing the Scarecrow’s song.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All Encompassing Trip Starts Tonight


The SiriusXM call in show, All Encompassing Trip, debuts today at 5pm.  Callers can talk to Tim Bierman, Manager of Ten Club, Pearl Jam's official fan club, and long-time Pearl Jam enthusiast and radio veteran Rob Bleetstein at 888-897-4748 

Friday, November 12, 2010

On a Side Note: Soundgarden

Despite the fact that I have blogged copiously about Brad and covered events by Flight to Mars and Ed, even hitting on the release of Jack Irons' new CD, I've not really mentioned much about Soundgarden.  I guess I just always viewed them as a grunge juggernaut wholly distinct from Pearl Jam.  As it turns out, there is a member of Pearl Jam playing in that band.

I'm not looking to make this a joint Pearl Jam/Soundgarden website, but no more Cameron shirking.  If there's news about the side project of Pearl Jam's longest running drummer, we're gonna cover it.

Sorry, Mr. Cameron.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Amongst The Waves

by stip

Amongst the Waves

Amongst the Waves is one of the centerpiece tracks on Backspacer (I’d say alongside The Fixer and Unthought Known). This is not to say that these are the best songs on Backspacer (I certainly do not think so) but they make the most important statements on the record. They anchor the themes, in the same way that Corduroy and Given To Fly anchor Vitalogy and Yield. So it’s really important that they get these songs right. I think they’re successful (not perfect, but successful) on Unthought Known and The Fixer, but after a very promising start they come up a little short on Amongst the Waves—one of the few moments where I think Backspacer stumbles a bit.

I keep referencing Yield in this review, and that’s not surprising, since Backspacer reprises and develops more fully the potential and promise of Yield, promises that get cut off on the record itself and then come to a full stop on Binaural (I’m talking thematically here, not necessarily in terms of the quality of the songs themselves—I prefer Backspacer to those two records but that’s just a subjective preference). And so, with that preface, Amongst the Waves strikes me as the song (again thematically) that In Hiding wanted to be. Musically the songs sound somewhat similar to me (although In Hiding is structured better, with the crucial pre-chorus that Amongst the Waves needs—more on that below). Both are songs about personal salvation, with the crucial difference being that in In Hiding the singer can save himself only by retreating into himself, by admitting defeat. It’s a song about isolation, about being unable to deal with the world. It’s implied towards the end that through this retreat he is able to resurrect himself, but then the song goes right back into celebrating the fact that he’s in hiding. As we’ll see Amongst the Waves is also about salvation, but absent the moment of retreat. It may not be the better song (I like them about the same), but it’s more consistent with the core of who the band is and what it stands for. Amongst the Waves is the song Pearl Jam wanted In Hiding to be, and it celebrates the fact that they’re finally able to write it.

Amongst the Waves accomplishes a great deal during its verses. Musically it sets the scene perfectly. The gentle buzzing and quiet electricity of the melody, the bright coloration, the deep bass and gentle drumming all create the image of a man overlooking a dark lake at midnight with the slight wind rippling the water (I hear a lake more than an ocean, but I’m more drawn to lakes than oceans). It’s a perfect backdrop for peaceful reflection, for feeling grateful about the life you’ve fought for and the fact that you can share it (and the opportunity to share it may be instrumental in the creation). The music sounds like a living memory, like past and present coming together and lifting you up in the process.

Lyrically I’m a big fan of each verse, and each compliments the music well. In the first he’s clearly signing to someone else. It makes sense to assume it’s the person in Just Breathe, given the placement on the record and the same lyrical themes, the way in which love and commitment has finally granted him the peace (just you and me and nothing more) and stability he’s spent so long desperately trying to achieve (what used to be a house of cards has turned into a reservoir—a lyric that would be clunky if not so expertly delivered—as is the case on pretty much all of the record Eddie is masterful here). The quiet moonlit night overlooking the water is a gift, and he’s giving thanks for it. Having struggled so long for it he’s well aware of its valued. His is a peace earned through struggle and resistance and achieved ultimately through surrender, but by surrendering to someone else, not the world. Freedom and love are found through dictating the terms of your submission. This was the promise at the end of Faithful, the hope of Given to Fly, lost during In Hiding, finally achieved AND sustained.

In that sense the second verse is a flashback—rather than addressing his partner in the first verse he’s addressing himself, his past, his struggle, and while the flashback may make more sense for a reflective song, I wonder if having this verse come first—giving the song a narrative arc—would have made more sense, especially given some of the concerns I have with the bridge and chorus (more on that later). I like the loss of innocence in nameless violence described in the second verse. It’s possible there is a statement to be teased out of the television reference, but it does feel a little out of place. This isn’t Ghost, and this song is too internal to really make room for social critique (TV as hyper reality, TV as a filter to block out reality, etc—lots of things you can do here, but not necessary for the song). I like that he sticks with the blood metaphor (cut to later/bled yourself) and the way the verse conveys that sense of being the last man standing after a long and grueling struggle, having found the strength needed to endure and even triumph over constant struggle (this also makes me wonder if Force of Nature, which chronicles this struggle without a resolution, should switch places with Amongst the Waves).

It’s the chorus where Amongst the Waves loses me. Lyrically it’s fine. Waves and water are Eddie’s go to lyrical inspiration, and it’s been done before, but I have no problem with the usage here. I’ve never surfed, but the sense of release and freedom and possibility and salvation found in that moment is clearly conveyed. The “gotta say it now, better loud than too late” lyric is interesting to, especially the way he unexpectedly juxtaposes loud with late—the recognition that life is not only about seizing the necessary moments, but doing so with a full bodied and totalizing commitment, holding nothing back, surrendering to that moment.

Convey this asks more of the music and the delivery than the song gives. The chorus doesn’t provide the exclamation mark it needs to. The delivery sounds more like a pre chorus—like Eddie’s ramping up for a pay off that never actually happens. In Hiding is a good parallel to draw here—you can’t go from the verses to the ‘I’m in hiding’ chorus without the pre chorus, but the pre chorus itself would not have been sufficient without the release. Maybe if they repeated or developed further the ‘gotta say it now’ part of the song (like they do at the end of the song) that would have helped. But even there Eddie needs to push more. His brilliant performance in Hard Sun makes moments like this fall flat. He can clearly still hit those notes and he’s not. At his best no one soars quite like Eddie, and this song needs to soar here (this kills Love Boat Captain as well). It rides its waves, but it doesn’t rise above them. The music doesn’t pick up the slack here either—it carries Eddie along but doesn’t lift him up. I like the atmosphere in the music, stormy and purifying at the same time, but it’s not enough. It’s possible that too stark a difference between chorus and verse would have sounded out of place, but if that’s the case the song really needs that transitional pre chorus that it lacks. Given to Fly has it. In Hiding has it. Amongst the Waves needs it. There’s a little more energy for the second and even for the third and final chorus—more is at stake each time, but it’s never enough. Even the final chorus has a certain sameness to it—a song about surviving, triumph, and salvation needs to ascend in its final moments, and Amongst the Waves doesn’t.

Backspacer is a record largely devoid of Mike solos, which for me are almost always a highlight of any song that features one. It’s nice to hear one on Amongst the Waves, and it’s pretty good (not great, but pretty good) as far as solos go, but it feels out of place. Some of this is the way the song is structured. It’s a flashback solo—it’s the musical accompaniment for the actual events that Eddie remembers in the second verse, but with a chorus between the two of them it’s easy to forget why it’s happening. Sandwiched between the two choruses it lacks context. A few bridge lyrics to transition into it would have helped. Stronger choruses (musically and vocally) might have helped the solo seem less out of place by providing the struggle with more of a payoff than Mikes gives the solo itself. Someone who can write such cathartic pieces like Alive and I Am Mine (or even the outro of Force of Nature, which pulls off what Amongst the Waves fails to fully do) can do better here. It’s a shame that after the vocals and music compliment each other so well on the verses they each fail to come through for the other when they need it.

And so in the end Amongst the Waves fails to sustain the incredible energy and first rate run of songs that precedes it. The momentum falters here. Unthought Known picks it back up but now we’re starting over, and the record never quite fully recovers since there isn’t enough time to rebuild the lost momentum. Tracklisting could have helped here. You don’t necessarily want to have all your fast songs and then all your slow songs but moving Amongst the Waves to later in the record (which is more reflective and less immediate than the first half enables you to go from Just Breathe to Unthought Known, which is a better musical transition and fits in better with the immediacy of the first half of the record (Just Breathe makes a bit more sense later but you usually don’t want to stick all your slow songs next to each other). Amongst the Waves would be better served following Force of Nature towards the end. There are other songs I’d move around (it’s always fun to play the retracking game) but this is the placement I have the most trouble with.

This is a pretty unsatisfying way to end this review, but I suppose it’s appropriate given that Amongst the Waves ends up being something of an unsatisfying song.

Other songs in this series:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free Ames Brothers Poster?

Ames Brothers are giving away free Pearl Jam posters.  Head to their Facebook page and look under the "Sweepstakes" tab to enter.

More Brad at the High Dive

This was almost a post about the San Francisco Ames Bros. Shirt & Poster Combo Pack which is now available in the Ten Club Goods Section,but then I caught the news of two Brad shows on Shawn Smith's Facebook Page.

December 5th and 6th at the High Dive!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

All That's Sacred's Swan Song?

We've heard this before, but if this is true, we're going to sorely miss All That's Sacred.  I'm not really sure where I'm going to steal my up-to-the-minute Pearl Jam news.

I hate to say it, but I'm taking a break from the podcast for a while. I'm still trying to find a balance with this latest work transition and I'd also like to take more of my free time to explore other interests -- I can't tell you the last time I actually read a book, for example. The last 18 months have been an incredible experience and I hope to return eventually but this is just something I have to do right now. Thanks for listening and thanks for making All That's Sacred a real highlight in my life.

Cheers! Donny

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Green Seattle Day

Today is Green Seattle Day, a day when Seattle residents can volunteer to plant trees in urban parks all over the city.  To support the event, Stone Gossard [in a frickin' tie!!] spoke with his local Fox affiliate.


Bridge School Poster Now Available

You can now purchase the Pearl Jam Bridge School Poster for $37.50 (shipped in the US) at the Ten Club website.  All proceeds benefit the Bridge School.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Just Breathe

by stip

Just Breathe

Yes yes yes, Just Breathe sounds like it was written for Into The Wild. That doesn’t matter. Musically it takes the ideas in Tuolumne (which was a very pretty little instrumental that I really wanted to see developed further) and turns it into a full fledged song. If not for the fact that Into The Wild really has no space for a love song in it this would have fit in there perfectly. But it fits in here too. Not counting a song like You this is really the first pure love song pearl jam ever wrote ( I went with an REM song when I got married just because Pearl Jam didn’t have anything I could use yet. If only I had waited 4 more years). This is probably not a song Pearl Jam could have written prior to Backspacer. There’s a sense of spiritual calm, certainty, and stability to it that reflects the peace of mind that comes from a long standing, healthy relationship—the realization that love is as much the small quiet moments as it is white hot fire, and that while it’s easy to miss those moments, when we stop and notice them they take our breath away.

Musically this song almost immediately relaxes me, transports me someplace quiet and secure, the gentle finger picking moving me along without actually taking me anywhere—it’s a pretty cool combination of movement and standing still—and the organ accents color this beautifully. The do a great job phasing in the rest of the band here—the bass comes in as Eddie turns to weightier thoughts, as he starts to reflect on the moment, rather than live in the moment itself. It gives his meditation here a bit of urgency without overpowering the song.

At least until the chorus. I’m not sure what to make of it. It might have been necessary to really have the chorus differentiate itself from the verses, and certainly there’s a pleading element to the vocals that requires the music to hit a little harder, but the transition here is a bit too jarring. It’s like going from sometimes into hail hail (well not that bad, but on the same scale) and it’s too much. I think my problem here may just be the volume. The strings are perhaps a little melodramatic, but its’ also a melodramatic moment and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with melodrama used sparingly.

The transition out of the first chorus (vocally and musically) is excellent, and the music reflects the weightier thoughts without really overdoing it. It’s much busier than the first verse, but the chorus does prepare us for this. The second chorus is still a little jarring but it’s not as bad as the first time, and the song swirls away underneath eddie’s vocalizations and final thoughts. It’s impressive how this song manages to sound so busy and so simple and delicate at the same time. R.E.M. could write a song like this in their sleep. It’s nice to see Pearl Jam take a stab at it and be so successful.

Eddie is surprisingly nasally on this song. He doesn’t sound like this on the rest of the album, so it’s clearly an artistic choice. I’m not sure why he made it. He’s going for delicate and vulnerable, but he’s done that better before (see Into the Wild, for instance), and they make the aw huh’s at the end of the line too prominent—those are meant as punctuation and they turn into statements. These are certainly not my favorite vocals of his, but again another accomplished vocal melody, the way the words just glide so effortlessly over the music, goes a long way towards cutting the impact of the vocal choice. Plus his voice is full of the nooks and crannies , the cracks and the warmth, so that the overall effect is still compelling.

Lyrically this one is going to rise and fall on the sincerity. If you believe him it’s compelling. As stand alone lyrics divorced from the performance they’re not bad, but they’re not great. Other than ‘I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love’ which I think is just a gorgeous lyric there’s nothing too memorable here. But the approach he’s taking to love is interesting. Like I mentioned earlier this is a mature love song—mature in that it’s speaking to a love that’s long past the initial stage of discovery where everything is white hot and exciting and new. It’s writing from the perspective of a love that, while cooling (as it inevitably will), has plugged all the cracks and settled in the foundations of these people’s lives—the way in which it becomes impossible to live without even as you cease noticing it all the time.

Just Breathe is a quiet moment of reflection—the singer is taking the time to remember, to consciously remind himself, just how fortunate he is to have the gifts he has, and how empty he would be without them. There’s a maturity to this song, a sense of peace, a willingness (a need even) to live in a moment outside of time which isn’t possible until we become comfortable enough with ourselves and the world around us to realize that there are times it is okay to just shut it out and exist for ourselves—that it is within these spaces we find the strength and purpose to fight again. The fact that this moment is shared is also significant. It speaks to the self confidence needed to leave oneself so vulnerable, so dependent on someone else. There are undercurrents of death in this song (every life must end, hold me ‘til I die) but I doubt very much either character is dying. Instead the references to dying and to departures are a reflection of how utterly dependent the main character is on the other person in his life, how lucky he is to have it, and a promise to himself to remember that this cannot last forever and so he must not take it for granted. It’s clear that the person he’s signing to is his rock, his refuge and certainty in a violent and uncertain world, and that this is the most precious thing she can be for him. And so the most romantic line in the whole piece may be the ‘stay with me, let’s just breathe.’ There may not be a purer expression of love than the desire for that person to just be there, to demand nothing more of them other than that they exist.

Other songs in this series:

Spectrum Souvenirs Up For Grabs

What?  The boxed set wasn't enough?

Philadelphia Weekly reports that, this Saturday, you'll have a chance to get a couple more mementos from Pearl Jam's 4-show stand last year.

On Saturday, Comcast-Spectacor is holding an event called “If You Can Carry It, You Can Keep It” which runs from 9 a.m. until noon. It works like this: You pay $25, you get a “commemorative Spectrum crystal,” and then you’ll be granted access to the Spectrum where you can grab as many souvenir pieces as you can carry (you cannot bring in hand trucks or carts of any kind, or any tools, and there is no re-entry once you carry your armload of stuff out the door). Among the items available are official Spectrum folding chairs, used televisions, office furniture, computers, and — the most tantalizing prospect — unspecified “collectibles.”

Live on Ten Legs Presale Begins Two Hours Ago!

Today is Green Seattle Day, a day when Seattle residents can volunteer to plant trees in urban parks all over the city.  To support the event, Stone Gossard [in a frickin' tie!!] spoke with his local Fox affiliate.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ed to Appear on R.E.M.'s Collapse Into Now


According to SPIN Magazine, we're due for another Pearl Jam/R.E.M. collaboration.  Eddie Vedder will be singing on It Happened Today, a song from R.E.M.'s album, Collapse Into Now, due out this spring.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weezy's 90's Ball, Volume One Available for Download


Universal Mowtown has issued a cease and desist order, but as of the time of this posting, you can get Alexei and Lil' Wayne's take on Betterman for free here.

The Onion's AV Club on Pearl Jam

As part of their Whatever Happened to the Alternative Nation? Series, the Onion AV Club brings us a well-written, if not always kind, early history of Pearl Jam, entitled Pearl Jam: The perils of fame and the trouble with avoiding it..  Über-fans will know most of what is there, but you'll still enjoy remembering the various bits and pieces in a "remember where you were" kind of way.

“They made a big mistake,” Vedder says ruefully at the movie’s [Hype!] 43-minute mark. “They didn’t go further and find more of the bands that were already here, and had been here even before many of the bands that exploded were. That’s what makes me feel guilty about the success of our band, because it should’ve been spread out to a number of bands.”

When it came to rock stardom, Eddie Vedder was a socialist. But like so many celebrities before and after him, he blamed the media for his problem—which, presumably, was Pearl Jam selling more records than Gas Huffer—when he really should have blamed himself. Pearl Jam broke bigger than anybody else in Seattle because the band’s 1991 debut, Ten, satisfied a social need: It was spectacularly good at making alienated teenagers (i.e. all teenagers) feel less alone whenever they felt misunderstood by the rest of the world (i.e. every waking hour of the day).