Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Guided Tour of Vs.: Rats


(A Guided Tour: Vs.)
Rats is perhaps the only mistracked song on Vs. It is cast in the same broad mold of vague social commentary as the middle of the record, aiming for a target so big that the result ends up being less impressive than something more narrow, more tightly focused, less defensive and reactive. The end of Vs. is meant to be revelatory. Rearviewmirror, Small Town, Leash, and Indifference are the epiphanies that sharpen and clarify the confused and fluctuating world the previous songs attempt to define and critique. If Rats was more precise you could make the case that the newfound sense of certainty and purpose, of vision, achieved in Rearview Mirror makes the observations in Rats possible, but they’re not any more insightful than anything that’s come before. Nor is Rats necessary as a cooldown after the intensity of Rearview Mirror, since the two songs that follow are a gentle acoustic number and a joyful rave.

This isn’t to say that Rats is a bad song. It’s pretty good. It’s just that it works more effectively as a stand alone song than it does as a part of a record, given its placement. It ends up being a speed bump in the middle of an extended 4 song climax, instead of helping to pave the road that leads there.

There is a playfulness to Rats that is actually fairly charming. It’s written in the same sarcastic mold as Glorified G, but you’re left with the sense that it doesn’t take itself quite as seriously. The music helps here, but the key is Eddie. The music in Glorified G sets a light and sunny backyard bbq mood, but Eddie is so clearly out to draw blood that it undermines the fun. Rats actually starts out trying to sound more dark and foreboding, but you can almost see everyone smiling in the darkness, Eddie included, as they construct the song. Everyone’s tongues are kept much more firmly in cheek. The bassline is ever so slightly whimsical, implying deep and heavy thoughts refracted through something playful, and the accents at 9, 12, and 15 seconds give the opening a Cheshire cat grin. Eddie plays his part, growling out his verses with a survivors grit and wisdom, climaxing with an over the top melodramatic chorus and urgent, striving guitars. It would be easy to take all this as authentic if not for the playful funkiness of the music, especially the solo in the bridge. It’s playing at being bad ass while knowing that it’s not, like a child trying on its parents clothes and grinning at itself in the mirror. The song culminates with its grinding two minute outro (with what has got to be the longest fadeout on any PJ record) that once again feels like its winking at itself, almost mocking the sound and fury of the earlier songs. That’s part of Rats’ problem. Vs. is such an overserious record that it’s hard to fit in something this mischievous.

Lyrically the song seems like a bit of misfire. The gimmick is clever, but Eddie doesn’t quite pull it off. Tom Waits has a similar song called Army Ants where he spends three minutes cataloging unusual characteristics of various bugs and insects. The song is strangely hypnotic, and so the songs final reveal, when Waits admits that he’s been talking about humans all along, is clever and amusingly shocking (Perhaps you've encountered some of these insects in your communities, displaying both their predatory and defense characteristics, while imbedded within the walls of flesh and passing for, what is most commonly recognized... as human.) Eddie is going for something similar here (although this song predates Army Ants). The lyrics catalog all the terrible things some awful species does to its own members (a sense of cannibalism, that it’s not just that these people do bad things, but that they do it to their own kind, pervades the song and makes everything seem even more sordid). Most of the lyrics are pretty good (‘they don’t push, don’t crowd, congregate until they’re much too loud’ flows really nicely, ‘fuck to procreate til’ they are dead, drink the blood of their so called best friend’ sounds shocking without sounding cheap. ‘Bare their gums when they moan and squeak, lick the dirt off a larger one’s feet’ sounds sufficiently pathetic, and ‘starve the poor so they can be well fed, line their holes with the dead ones bread’ comes across as a real crime. On the other hand, the nicely delivered lyric about the pack mentality in the chorus ‘they don’t’ scurry when something bigger comes their way, don’t’ pack themselves together and run as one’ is undermined by the ‘don’t shit where they’re not supposed to’ lyric which sounds more like it’s trying to shock than genuinely shocking. And the opening lyrics just don’t quite make sense. ‘They don’t eat, don’t sleep, they don’t’ feed, they don’t seethe’ seems off. Why are eating and sleeping bad, and what does seething have to do with that? These lines shouldn’t be deal breakers, and I suppose they’re not. But the rest of the song isn’t quite as clever as it has to be to support the weight of weaker lyrics.

The ‘Ben, the two of us need look no more’ reference is just odd. Ben was an early 70s horror movie (a sequel to Willard, which was about killer rats). The main character befriends Ben, the leader of a pack of telepathic rats. Ben keeps the boy company and acts as his friend while he confronts the problems of childhood bullying and illness. Eventually most of the pack is destroyed and the movie ends with the main character nursing Ben back to health. It sounds like a really weird movie (I’ve never seen it), but it’s remembered mostly for the fact that Michael Jackson wrote an incongruously sweet song about it that outlasted the film. I suppose, echoing the ‘I’d rather be with an animal’ theme from earlier in the record, that the singer needs to look for comfort in odd places since humanity is so disgusting, but this is a little too obscure to be effective.

The biggest problem is that the song doesn’t feel like it leads to any great revelation. If the song wasn’t called rats the ‘bombshell’ moment when you realize that Eddie is condemning humanity as somehow inferior to rats would have more power. The revelation at the end of Army Ants is genuinely shocking, and enjoyable for the unexpected surprise. You know precisely from the very beginning where Eddie is going with this, and since the song can’t rely on its twist ending the rest of the song needs to justify the lyrical conceit, and it can’t quite pull it off. It’s not that what comes before is bad. It’s pretty good and the song is pretty fun. But it also has no real meaningful impact. It aims at a target that’s too big, the playfulness seems slightly out of place. Rats doesn’t know quite what kind of song it wants to be, and maybe that’s how you can justify its place on the record. The band doesn’t know quite who it is yet, either.

Glorified G
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town


Can't Keep Video

Just popped up on Pearl Jam's Facebook page:

Happy Eddie Vedder Day!

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Soundgarden Show: Calgary, July 27th

Via Soundgarden's Twitter:
new date added: July 27th Soundgarden will perform at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. http://on.fb.me/kDgu20

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eddie Vedder: Rolling Stone Interview

Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone sat down with Eddie Vedder to discuss his upcoming album, Ukulele Songs (May 31) in the June 9th issue (Lady Gaga cover).

What made you want to focus on that one instrument?
I just wanted it to be the one sound.  At first it was kind of a joke, and then it became a little bit of a challenge, a puzzle, to see if I could create 11 or 12 songs with just a ukulele.  It's like painting with one color.  You can really appreciate the subtleties and changes in tone.

You can download the full interview here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Check Your Mailboxes!

It looks like Ukulele Songs has started to arrive in Europe.  PJCollectors has the first images.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Press Release: Pearl Jam Twenty Movie

There isn't a ton of new information here, so I wasn't in a hurry to post it and ruin the fun everyone was having with getting tour tickets.  Now, we have a few hours to relax.  Here is what we did learn.  Pearl Jam Twenty is being released by Abramorama, the distributor who handled the recent Foo Fighters documentary.  The movie will release in September, followed by the PBS airing and a DVD release in October.

Told in big themes and bold colors with blistering sound, Pearl Jam Twenty chronicles the years leading up to the band’s formation, the chaos that ensued soon-after being catapulted into superstardom, their step back from the spotlight with the instinct of self-preservation, and the creation of a trusted circle that would surround them—giving way to a work culture that would sustain them. The film celebrates the freedom that allows the band to make music without losing themselves, their fans, or the music lovers they’d always been.

“When I set out to make this film, my mission was to assemble the best-of-the best from Pearl Jam’s past and present and give audiences a visceral feeling of what it is to love music and to feel it deeply—to be inside the journey of a band that has carved their own path,” said Cameron Crowe. “There is only one band of their generation for which a film like this could even be made, and I’m honored to be the one given the opportunity to make it.”

Canadian Pre-Sale Starts Again Today

Ten Club will be working with Ticketmaster to get the tickets out without a meltdown.  Keep an eye out for your e-mail.
In an effort to fix today’s Canadian Tour Pre Sale Meltdown, Ten Club is partnering up with general public vendors Ticketmaster Canada and others in order to get the Fan Club designated tickets into the hands of our faithful members. All eligible Ten Club members will receive an email tomorrow morning (Thursday, May 26) from Ten Club which will include a unique code that will give you access and information for the new Canadian pre-sale.

The pre-sale will begin tomorrow, Thursday, May 26 at 5pm local venue time and end at 8pm local venue time.

Although members will be purchasing through Ticketmaster Canada and other ticketing outlets (which will be notated in your email along with the appropriate links), Ten Club will still be fulfilling all of the ticket orders.

All Ten Club policies including seat allocation, Will Call procedures, etc. still apply. Please read our ticking policy HERE.

We have arranged for the service charge on the tickets to be as close as possible to the service charge you would have paid if you were purchasing the tickets through Ten Club.

For those of you who were able to get tickets through today’s (Wednesday, May 25) Ten Club pre-sale, your ticket purchases will be honored. A confirmation email has been sent to you from Ten Club notifying you whether your purchase was processed.

Ten Club

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Canada Pre-Sale Suspended

Sorry, gang.  You've got at least one more day of trouble.  Try to keep the glass half full (at least there are still tickets out there).
Sorry our store is temporarily closed please read below.

We're shutting down the Canada pre-sale due to ticketing system failure. We'll be moving to another temporary system tomorrow to handle the Canada pre-sale for Ten Club. We'll be posting more information on the site tonight regarding how the Canada pre-sale will work and when it will recommence. We will provide everyone at least 2 hours notice on the website and via the social networks before the pre-sale starts again. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, subscribe to Gremmie's AET podcast.  You can hear Tim Bierman speak on the issue.

Canada Sale Update

The last of the Canada Pre-sales started about 2 hours ago.  The site is still looking pretty hairy, but the Ten Club says to keep trying.

Even thought the store is VERY busy, and refreshing is kind of insane, we are processing tickets, much like yesterday, but not at all like Monday. Right now, it appears as if all of the tickets are in carts and people that have them are refreshing their way through the checkout process. Thanks for your patience.

Eddie to his Ukulele Fans: "Walk Away from the Computer"

There was a great piece today in The Record with Ann Powers, the NPR music blog with some marching orders for those us writing blogs.  Excerpts below:

Vedder said he hopes that Ukulele Songs would encourage listeners to step away from their computers and televisions and make some music of their own, preferably with friends. Some of the material collected on the record was written back in the mid-'90s after Vedder first picked up the instrument. For him, the modest chordophone itself has been a companion in times of loneliness.

"If it weren't for the ukulele I would have been by myself," he says of the period. "The songs were just written for my own benefit."
"The song selection was easy because those were the ones I had," said Vedder. "A lot's different since I first picked up this instrument; my life is quite different than I could have imagined."
"I know for the vinyl version of the record there's going to be a real book included, with the music and the notation and whatever bizarre chords I've come up with — a legible version of the notebook I was creating all those years," he said. "I'm just encouraging people to turn off the TV and play these songs if you want. Some of them are really depressing. But have fun with it!"

Tenth Album Update

It looks like we'll again be blessed by the production of Brendan O'Brien.  Mike tweets, "Taking Direction from Brendan O’Brien."

Soundgarden Adds Lake Tahoe Show

Soundgarden is giving you one more shot at their reunion tour.

7/20/11: Stateline, NV: Harvey's Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena

SPECIAL GUESTS:  The Mars Volta will open 7/12-23 (Fairfax, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Chicago, Morrison, Stateline, San Francisco, Inglewood, Las Vegas)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Strong Pledge from the Ten Club

Strong words from the Ten Club, promising a better ticket system for the future:
Since the Alpine on-sale began, we have sold a little over 17,000 tickets (a mix of lawn and reserves for September 3/4) via the Ten Club. More than half of the sales took place today. We have now officially sold out of all of those tickets, travel packages and expo packages.

We know it was a rough ride for everyone this time around. “Sorry” feels a little light given the amount of time you all spent waiting out our ticketing system, but we are. Deeply.

Clearly, the new system is broken and slow. However, we need to get through the Canada on-sale tomorrow. Once we get through that, we will IMMEDIATELY begin building a new, state-of-the-art system to avoid ever putting you through the pain-in-the-ass-ness of yesterday.

That’s our promise to you.

Sincerely, Ten Club

A Guided Tour of Vs.: Rearview Mirror


(A Guided Tour: Vs.)
After the uncertain, flailing anger or brooding bitterness of the first seven songs, Rearview Mirror marks the first real moment of revelation on Vs. It is not quite sure what to make of this new perspective, this restoration of sight –we know what the subject sees behind himself, but not what’s in front of him. He sees who he was, not who he might become. That will come later, in the final three songs on the record. Rearview Mirror documents the moment of release, not the aftermath. It is an experience of pure, unencumbered emancipation, and its power is found in the breathless appreciation of that moment.

The power of the song is amplified because it feels earned. The best songs will (usually) not just document the moment of liberation. They will also chronicle the journey (Alive and Given to Fly also do this particularly well). The music tells much of the story. There is a stubborn grittiness to the main riff that also manages to feel quite fluid and convey a sense of movement, a promise of freedom. The rest of the surrounding music burdens the riff in an unobtrusive way, adding drama to the song without calling attention to it. Prior to the bridge the song keeps getting heavier. Experience piles on experience. Life piles on life. Some moments are more traumatic than others. There is more drama in the crashing accents of the chorus than the fuzzy guitar that mirrors the main riff in the first verse, but in either case the music presses down. In the second verse the track the riff is running is strewn with the obstacles the music keeps placing in front of and underneath it but the subject plows on, unbowed, defiant, refusing to give in.

The determination is rewarded in the musical breakthrough in the bridge. For seems to largely be a bunch of held notes and feedback the music takes on an ethereal, dreamlike quality. The burdens recede and fade. There is space to breath, to reflect. The past finally becomes past, rather than present. And the song takes a deep breath and starts to run again (jeff’s bass tells an important part of this story), but this time it breaks through. Rather than weigh the song down, the music is a long, exultant scream of triumph. There is anger here, and hate, a vanquishing of enemies as much as a personal victory. It is a complicated finale, one that doesn’t quite leave the trenches, one that reminds the listener that the journey isn’t quite over. But the end at least begins.

The music perfectly mirrors the story Eddie is telling. In fact, one of the things that really struck me sitting down to write this was how unnecessary Eddie is, and RVM has one of the strongest set of lyrics and vocal performances in the catalog. The song’s power comes in part from the fact that we get told the same story in a few different ways—intellectually through the words and elementally through the music (and vocals).

Eddie’s voice is grim and weathered, but there is a powerful inexorable quality to it—the sound of someone beaten down but not beaten. He practically sighs the last word in each lyric in the verse (and the end of the chorus), but it’s the sigh of someone who is prepared to fight, and keep fighting, even if it is forever, punctuated by moments of rising urgency. Above all else, Eddie invests the song with a sense of potential, planting seeds that ripen during the song’s second act, the two minute climax, a mixture of relief, joy, and a harsh territoriality, a willingness to fight for the newfound liberation.

Lyrically the song begins in the present, but it’s a present haunted by a past it is trying to escape. Eddie chooses (for the first time, but not the last) the car as his vehicle for escape, since the car is a symbol of aggressive protected freedom—you’re moving fast, feeling powerful, and safe at the same time, the vehicle interposing itself between you and the rest of the world. The subject is running from abuse, both mental and physical. There are references to beatings, but there’s psychological abuse too. In fact, its’ not clear if the physical beatings were always there, or if they finally served as a catalyst, a way to crystallize the mental torture, the living in fear, the blaming of the self, and shock the subject out of their passive, servile state. 

The beating reference is probably the least elegant moment in the song (other than ‘I gather speed from you fucking with me’ but at that point it feels earned), almost too obvious given how subtle and effective the rest of the lyrics are, although it is offset by the intriguing ‘made me wise’ lyric. This is a song about revelation, the restoration of inner vision, and that culminates in wisdom. Still, this gift is no gift at all. It has been bought with bitter currency. It is the exclusive possession of the subject, paid for with trauma, and there is no gratitude here. The descriptions of abuse are subtle and powerful and do a wonderful job conveying a sense of being trapped and slowly suffocating, the victim of someone else’s crimes : ‘I couldn’t’ breathe, holding me down, hand on my face, pushed to the ground’. I used to think this was a song about child abuse, but it could be anything. Rearview Mirror provides an emotional context and lets the listener provide the concrete details themselves. The final lyrics in the chorus ‘united by fear, forced/tried to endure what I could not forgive’ are particularly powerful –the way in which whatever relationship this person is running away from is false, grounded in fear, rather than love, and ultimately unsustainable, despite the best misguided efforts of the subject to make it work.

The second verse really starts to emphasize the sight imagery that is at the heart of the song’s climax—looking away, visions waving, and a new perspective—that for whatever physical abuse that may have been suffered the real damage was on the inside—that the subject is escaping from the psychic harm as much as physical harm. We have the presence of physical abuse ‘fist on my plate/swallowed it down’ but there is also the sense that the bigger problem is the fact that the subject is prepared to take the abuse, to try and endure it, rather than leave it (head at your feet/fool to your crown). What does that say about them?

But, thanks to the ‘gift’ of this last round of abuse the subject finally flees, and as they get away (either literally or metaphorically) and look behind them, once they’re no longer the cornered, wounded animal we see in Go, Animal, or Blood, the subject is able to recognize that they’ve been a victim, that they did nothing wrong, that they did not ask for the abuse, that they deserve better, and that they have an opportunity to recreate themselves, to start over. We have a callback to Daughter as the shades that went down are raised alongside the revelation that someone else had pulled them down in the first place.

We don’t yet know what kind of person they’re going to be, how the subject is going to recreate himself. The final songs on the Vs. will ask that question, and fill in some of the gaps. But this is not a failure of the song. Rearview Mirror doesn’t try to answer those questions. Instead it celebrates the moment of emancipation that makes asking that question possible.

Glorified G
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town


Post Pre-Sale FAQs

I haven't the foggiest idea where this came from.
Due to the overwhelming backlog of emails received over the past couple of days, we are unable to answer them in a timely manner at this point. Many of you have the similar questions, so to better expedite the proper information we have made a list of common concerns/ questions.

Please read below for the information that pertains to you. If you have a legitimate question which was not addressed in this email you are welcome to email us again, please be patient, this is a manual process.

I logged in today for the CANADA pre-sale but the Canada tickets never appeared.
Sorry, due to unforeseen circumstances the Canada Pre-sale was re-scheduled for May 25th at the same time slots as previously advertised.

Please read the announcement here:
http://www.pearljam.com/news/alpine-val ... our-update

I was online right at the posted pre-sale time and was unable to get through. What’s happened?
Over the past few weeks out IT staff has been diligently prepping the servers for the PJ20 and Canada Tour’s anticipated heavy traffic load. Part of this process included moving our servers over to amazon.com’s soundcloud. PETE this is where I’ll need you to come in.

What does “temporarily out of stock” mean?
It means the tickets have all been placed in shopping carts.

My tickets have been in my cart since yesterday, can I assume I have tickets?
If you were unable to complete the order you do not have tickets.

I submitted my credit card information, clicked submit, and the page went blank/error message/ etc. Did I get tickets?
Please login, go to the Goods page, click on Orders. If you can see your ticket order in your account you have tickets.

I see a pending charge / no charge / my charge disappeared on my card statement. Do I have tickets?
No card have been charged yet, however the funds should be pending payment. Each bank process’s card slightly differently and with different time lines. Please login, go to the Goods page, click on Orders. If you can see your ticket order in your account you have tickets.

I did not get my email confirmation. Do I have tickets?
Our email confirmations are automatically generate once an order is submitted. Often email providers flag these auto generated emails as spam and either route them into your junk mail folder, or delay delivery on them. To confirm your order went through please login, go to the Goods page, click on Orders. If you can see your ticket order in your account you have tickets.

For those of you who have written in simply to provide kind words of encouragement to the Ten Club staff, we thank you all.

Best regards,

PJ20 Tickets: Sold Out!

Look on the bright side.  Now you can get into the Good section to buy a copy of the Eat Love Pray Soundtrack or a PJ20 keychain.

PJ20 Sale: Today at 10am PDT

In two hours you can try again:

Alpine Ticket Update-

We have identified and fixed some of the issues we were having. We're going to start the sale again at 10 A.M. Pacific time. Please be patient with the check out process. Once you begin checking out, you may receive a "please refresh" prompt. We understand how frustrating this can be, but we have made some changes that will help.

If the store continues to have problems, we will discontinue service until the problems are addressed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ticket Sales on Hold / Canada Pre-Sales Postponed

This, from the Ten Club:

Our IT brains are still working diligently to rectify the Alpine ticketing situation.
There are currently some people who already had items in their carts and who are able to continue the checkout process, very slowly.

Here’s what we’re going to do:

– Those who were already in the check-out process, stick with us and we’re going to try to process your order.
– Those who aren’t already, give it a rest tonight so we can get those who are officially in the middle of the check-out process checked out and work on the site.
– We are going to close the store tonight to ANY NEW TICKET ORDERS in order to work on the system for tomorrow.
– At 8am PT tomorrow morning, we will post on the Ten Club “news” section information regarding when the Alpine ticket sale will resume.
– If it’s still not working at 8am PT, we will say that.
– If it’s working at 8am PT, we’ll provide a time for when the onsale will resume, which be AT LEAST TWO HOURS later, so that everyone has time to prepare.
–The good news is, there are PLENTY of tickets still available.

Due to the problems surrounding today’s Alpine pre-sale, the Ten Club is going to postpone the Canada Pre-sale to Wednesday May 25th (during the same hours as previously scheduled) to help ensure all systems are up and running smoothly.

Once again, we’re really sorry this happened and will do everything we can to fix it as soon as possible.


Have you scored tickets to the Pearl Jam Destination Weekend?  If not, come commiserate with us.  If so, come brag about it.

UPDATE! Looks like we're going to be waiting a little longer!
3:37pm EDT: We apologize for the web site issues today but our online store has suffered a major issue. We hope to resume the ticket sale at some point today. Please watch www.pj20.com for the latest updates on the sale. Again we are very sorry for the issues.

Alpine Valley Season Tickets Miscommunication

I'm not really familiar with this "work around" that some fans are taking to get better tickets for the Pearl Jam Weekend Destination, but it seems important to pass on this message from Ten Club Manager, Tim Bierman, before the pre-sale begins.  

In regards to postings about buying season ticket packages in order to secure incredible seats for PJ20, there has been a mix-up in the Live Nation ticket office. Those who purchased these packages and were offered box seats as close as the 6th row, WILL NOT BE receiving those promised seat locations. All NEW season ticket package purchasers will be re-located BEHIND the Ten Club seats.

Please keep in mind that Alpine Valley does have a number of existing season ticket holders who have priority options to purchase those tickets. The Ten Club respectfully acknowledges these pre-existing ticket holders and their right to purchase their tickets. Some of these tickets may be located in front of Ten Club allocated tickets.
Live Nation and their ticket office have been very helpful in securing as many tickets as possible for The Ten Club. Their representatives feel horrible about this miscommunication and they apologize for any misunderstanding.
Thanks, Tim

Presale starts at 1pm EDT (10am PDT).  Good luck, gang!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hear Mike Talk About Pearl Jam Twenty the Movie

Mike recently spoke with MTV about his take on Cameron Crowe's upcoming documentary about the band.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Given To Cast, 5/20/2011

Hey guys,

Sorry it took forever but here's the latest podcast. Lots of music and of course all the information about the Pearl Jan Destination Weekend in September.


Week in Review - PJDW information and GTC is going to be there
Son of The Week: Longing to Belong + and extra song
Extra songs: Creddy Stomp VS outtake
Covered: "Talk About The Passion" -REM cover live from Austin, TX 9/16/1995
Other songs: "Hold On" and "Corduroy" Alt. Version
Live Rare Song: "Immortality" Original version

After you listen, head to our forums to discuss it!

Vs. Era Shirts

You can now upgrade your "Vs. Era" look with two new shirts available at the Ten Club.


Gremmie.Net has just announced that they will now be offering the All Encompassing Trip archive as a podcast.  No longer will I be staying up until midnight hoping that it gets posted on MegaUpload or some such nonsense.  It has been submitted to Apple, but for now there are instructions on Grem's site for adding the podcast manually.
For some time now we’ve been including archives of the AET show on gremmie radio. Typically, new episodes will join gremmie radio within hours of AET radio broadcast. At the behest of many gremmies, and the tremendous help of one awesome gremmie: @jaswah, we have now made available an iTunes-compatible podcast feed of Pearl Jam Radio’s All Encompassing Trip archives. We’re calling it “Sirius/XM Pearl Jam Radio’s All Encompassing Trip Fan Roundtable presented by gremmiedotnet for iTunes”, or “SXPJRAETFRGDNFIT” for short.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Guided Tour of Vs.: Blood

By Stip

(A Guided Tour: Vs.)
Blood crackles like few Pearl Jam songs do. Even the moments when it’s churning along (like Jeff’s bass part going into the bridge) the song still vibrates. Blood is a seizure, a musical electrocution that leaves you twitching even after the connection breaks at the end of the song.

Musically the song is a lot of fun, one of several necessary playful interludes on an otherwise overburdened record (which makes Vs. the easiest listen of the first three records. There is a sense of humor on a number of these songs that, if not always effectively executed, at least tries to lighten the mood). The humor is mostly in the music, but it’s there. The opening notes are a little too slick and shiny to take excessively seriously, and the 70s funk guitar in the verses lightens the mood. That’s not to say it’s a lightweight song. It’s too angry for that. But if Blood is not meant to be tongue in cheek, it’s at least able to smile while it screams (compare it musically to Habit, another very heavy song, one that may even be winking at the listener, but feels much more serious).

Eddie has written about drugs on a few songs (Habit, Severed Hand), but just as often it seems like he’s using drugs as a metaphor for something else (STBC, Gonna See My Friend), and that begins with Blood. The song is filled with the same heroin imagery as STBC, and the pictures in the liner notes make it clear for people not paying attention to the lyrics. But the dominant image in the booklet is the syringe next to the ball point pen, with their fluids dripping out and intermingling in the puddle below. So something else is going on here.

Blood is a song about feeling violated—if not the literal rape of Animal then an existential, spiritual rape alongside intimations of cannibalism. Blood is the cry of the sacrificial victims strapped down to the altar, the victim’s blood being spilled to please and placate the gods—in this case the entertainment media and its co-option of grunge culture and grunge artists. The reporter wielding the pen replaces the priest wielding the knife or the junkie wielding the needle. The ‘fucking circus’ lyric is a reference to the media circus and probably to a specific publication. His life fills their pages. He and his friends, his scene, his art, need to bleed in order to give them content and substance, to give them life. That he has become involuntarily complicit in feeding a machine that he hates makes this whole process even more perverse, and there’s a quiet moment in the bridge where Eddie acknowledges the irony before railing against it.

Eddie will deal with the same themes in a more sophisticated way on Vitalogy. Blood feels like a primal scream anticipating the more nuanced considerations these ideas get in songs like Last Exit, Not For You, Corduroy, Satan’s Bed, and Immortality. Ed’s throat shredding screams throughout the song, especially transitioning into the bridge, are intentionally abrasive---almost self destructive, as if he’s thinking ‘If I ruin myself, if there’s nothing left of me, there’s nothing more for you to take from me’.

All the component parts of Blood are pretty strong. Eddie screams with an elemental fury, the lyrics are pretty good, the music is fun without feeling like fluff. But, like Glorified G, I’m not sure they fit together as effectively as they could. This is a much stronger song than Glorified G because each of the component parts are better, but the playfulness in the music doesn’t mesh effectively with the soul ripping intensity of Eddie’s vocals. It feels almost like you’re listening to two separate songs. They’ll strike this balance a little more effectively in STBC and perfect it with Gonna See My Friend. Still, after the trance of W.M.A. Blood does an effective job ratcheting up the stakes of the record, and primes the listener for Rearview Mirror, arguably the most critical moment on the record.

Glorified G
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

KEXP Documentaries: Soundgarden

KEXP in Seattle continues their documentary series entitled Grunge, produced in collaboration with Experience Music Projectwith a show about Soundgarden.
The first grunge-era band to get signed to a major label was Seattle’s own Soundgarden. They got started officially in 1984, naming themselves after a sound sculpture near Seattle’s Magnuson park. One of six bands to appear on the first grunge compilation, Deep Six, released in 1986, Soundgarden’s original sound was psychedelic garage — very influenced by Led Zeppelin — and Chris Cornell started out singing in a screaming-style voice. By the time their first EP, Screaming Life, came out in 1987 on Sub Pop, Cornell had already made his voice more pop-friendly. What stood out about this band from the start was their ability to write strong hooks and hard-hitting guitar riffs that were balanced by emotional lyrics.

In 1988, Soundgarden signed to big label A&M. On this label they would become world famous, winning Grammys and making platinum albums. The 1994 full-length, Superunknown, is one of the great (some say the greatest) releases of the grunge era. “Black Hole Sun”, “Spoonman” and “Fell on Black Days” are still getting airplay.

In April of 1997, Soundgarden made an announcement that they were calling it quits. But in 2010, the group got back together, playing reunion shows and releasing a greatest hits collection, Telephantasm. Their 2011 live album (their first ever), Live from I-5, dropped in March.

Brad Album #5!

Brad announced today that they have signed with Dangerbird Management.  That announcement will hardly shake the Pearl Jam community, but it did come with more great news.
[Brad] are currently recording their self-produced fifth studio album at Studio Litho in the Fremont neighborhood of their hometown. Brad is also expected to commence with a series of releases beginning in autumn 2011, and will tour in support of those releases (details will be announced soon).
Will Album #5 still be on Monkeywrench Records?  How are Brad going to tour when Stone has committed to touring Canada the entire month of September and may be touring South America in November?

I just don't know the answers to these questions.

All That's Sacred, Episode #80

All That's Sacred, Episode #80 is now available.

So I took a bit of an unplanned hiatus and after six weeks away, ATS returns to the year that is PJ20 at a fever pitch. If you found yourself here, then chances are pretty good that you don't need many details of all that's going down. But in case you need a refresher, you can visit the ATS Twitter and Facebook pages, our friends at Two Feet Thick and The Sky I Scrape - and most importantly, the official PJ20 site!

Amid all this excitement, this week also marks the second anniversary of All That's Sacred! Granted the last year has been a little inconsistent, but I'm happy to still be here maintaining a presence in the Pearl Jam fan community. Thanks for the continued support and encouragement. While #80 is less ambitious than the penultimate #52 first anniversary podcast, I hope you tune in, enjoy, and celebrate - celebrate the podcast, celebrate each other as fans, celebrate the music and experience that is Pearl Jam.

Monday, May 16, 2011

More PJ20 Details

[Picture credit: twitter.com/MikeMcCreadyPJ]

Just wanted to throw out a couple of details about the Pearl Jam Twenty book, movie, and soundtrack from Billboard.comPBS.org, and the Ten Club that may have been lost in the hoopla today.
  • Pearl Jam Twenty (book) was cowritten by Jonathan Cohen (former Billboard journalist/current "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" music booker) and Mark Wilkerson (author of "Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend") and designed by Regan Hagar (Pearl Jam's in-house artist and drummer for Satchel/Brad) with a forward to Pearl Jam Twenty (book) was written by Cameron Crowe.
  • Pearl Jam Twenty (book) will be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and Atlantic Books in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
  • Pearl Jam Twenty (movie), created from  over 1,200 hours of rarely and never-before-seen footage, plus 24 hours of recently shot interview and live footage, will air on PBS on October 21st as part of a new American Masters series.  That's not expected to be the debut of the film.
  • Cameron Crowe has completed his selection of the tracks for Pearl Jam Twenty (soundtrack) which will be coming out on Columbia Records in conjunction with the release of the movie.
Hopefully, Pearl Jam will do something this year that is not called Pearl Jam Twenty, because I'm really getting confused.