Wednesday, May 27, 2020

All in Washington: June 10th

It looks like Pearl Jam might be getting together for some sort of show.  The campaign, All In Washington, has announced that they will be having "A Concert for COVID Relief," a virtual benefit concert featuring Pearl Jam, Macklemore, Brandi Carlile, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Dave Matthews, and several other Washington-state musicians.  It is unknown if bands will be together or separated.

The event will air June 10th at 6:30pm (presumably Pacific time).  

To learn more and get updates, visite the KEXP website.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Video: Retrograde

Today, Pearl Jam released an official video for the song, Retrograde, on Gigaton, featuring a whole new crew of filmmakers.

Video Credits:
Director: Josh Wakely
Producer: Rachel Pinchbeck for Grace - a storytelling company
VFX Supervisor: Daniel Roizman
Post-Production Producer: Paul Furminger & Steve Won
Editor: Simon Furminger

Thursday, May 7, 2020

High End Gigaton Prints in the Ten Shop

The Ten Club is currently offering high end posters by Ken Taylor and Krzysztof Domaradzki commemorating Gigaton.  Both retail for $250 (plus $22 domestic S&H).  The Ames Bros. poster, previously sold on their website, has already sold out, so don't waste time.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Record Store Day(s) 2020

Record Store Day has announced more changes for 2020.  Instead of releasing albums on one day later this year, they're going to release albums on three different days.  Coming June 1, they plan to announce a new list of releases for each day.
Since 2008, Record Store Day has grown into the world’s largest single-day music event, shining a light on the culture of the indie record store across the globe. In 2020, that world is different, so Record Store Day will be too. RSD is now scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October.

Record Store Day will look very different this year, but supporting indie record stores may be more important than ever. We don't know what sort of rules will be in place, or what sort of gatherings people will be in the mood for this year, so we're focusing on the music and getting the really great titles on the RSD Official List this year into the stores and into your hands, in the most financially and socially responsible way.

The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List, launched on March 5th, will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops: August 29th, September 26th, and October 24th. The new version of The List, with newly assigned RSD Drops dates will launch on June 1 so check back here for a look at when you'll be able to pick up the titles on your RSD 2020 wishlist at your local record store.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Jeff Covers Buzzcocks' Sitting Around At Home

Today, Pearl Jam posted a video of Jeff Ament and John Wicks (of Fitz and The Tantrums) covering Buzzcocks' Sitting Around At Home.  The Pearl Jam website calls it a "single."  Could we expect a 45 in the near future?
"This Buzzcocks’ tune (written by Steve Diggle) has entered my brain every bored moment I’ve had since 1979. Different Kind of Tension is a great existential pandemic listen. Recorded with my crosstown brother John Wicks, crushing the drum kit in his basement". - Jeff

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Eddie Vedder on the Kōkua Festival Stream

Last night, the Kōkua Festival, which was forced to cancel this year, aired several artists from home.  Among them, Eddie Vedder, singing Far Behind from his Soundtrack for the movie Into the Wild, a duet of Constellations with Jack Johnson, and Better Together with Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and an entire ensemble. 

Other artists included in the stream were Willie Nelson, Ben Harper, G. Love, Ziggy Marley, Lukas Nelson, Paula Fuga, Kawika Kahiapo, John Cruz, Anuhea, Ron a Artis II, and Thunderstorm Artis.

Peak to Sky 2020, Cancelled

Friday, April 24, 2020

Gigaton Visualizer Comes to Apple TV

Pearl Jam has announced a week-long collaboration with Apple TV to bring you the Gigaton Visualization Experience in Dolby Atmos to your living room.  Apple TV subscribers will be able to watch Gigaton (oh, and also the Beastie Boys Story) starting today. 
Pearl Jam and Apple TV are announcing the release of the Gigaton Visual Expierence in Dolby Atmos - a special audio visual event. This experience will be available for free to all Apple TV users for one week. Start watching on Friday, April 24.
Check for a free week offer, if you want to subscribe.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Ames Bros Gigaton Serigraphs

Ames Bros is offering a very limited run of Gigaton-themed posters tomorrow, April 20th, 2020, at 1pm ET.  Head to their shop tomorrow if you want one, but hurry, because there will be very few available.  Here's what to expect:
  • Signed and Numbered out of 200. 
  • Only 85 available at time of sale.
  • Large Format Serigraph
  • Seven Color Serigraph on Coventry Rag 320 GSM, 100% Cotton Archival Paper with hand-deckled edges
  • Hand signed & hand numbered
  • Official Pearl Jam serial numbered security label

Eddie's At-Home Performance of "River Cross"

In case you didn't make it though all 10 hours of live performances that were part of the One World: Together at Home special, you can watch Eddie performing River Cross on the same pump organ featured on Gigaton.

You can still be part of Global Citizen's efforts to combat poverty on their Take Action page.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Jeff Ament & Montana Pool Service on PMA Podcast

Jeff and his work building pools in Montana was featured in the final episode of PMA's podcast.  He talks about growing up in Montana, what inspired him to build skate parks all over Montana, and how his early life influenced his music.
This Season Zero finale is special for a few important reasons. The first one is that unlike all the previous episodes, we actually recorded this one properly in a studio, so this is a little glimpse into what the next season will sound like. It’s also remarkable because had our guest this week not done so much important work building skateparks across his home state of Montana, this magazine and podcast may never have been created.

Please enjoy our interview with Jeff Ament, who was kind enough to drop by for a chat to help us trace the roots of his empathy, and learn more about his truly groundbreaking organization, Montana Pool Service. We hope you enjoy it!
You can also pick up the print issue, featuring Jeff on the cover on their website.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Gigaton Image 3-D Viewer

Did you have View Master as a kid?  Do you wish you could enjoy the Gigaton artwork through one while rocking out to the album?  Well, Pearl Jam has the item for you!  Pick up an Image 3-D viewer with a disc of Gigaton artwork on their website for $35 (unknown S&H).

Now if Pearl Jam will get into the back catalog for more discs!

Pearl Jam Postpones European Shows

From Pearl Jam's website:
In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pearl Jam's 2020 European tour dates have been postponed until June/July 2021.

We are working with all of our partners to reschedule these dates and will release the new tour routing as soon as we are able.

All tickets will be honored for the rescheduled concert dates.

Refunds are not being offered at this time. However, we are still reviewing specific ticketing policies with our partners in each country. Ticket holders will be notified of any changes.

As previously announced, London's BST festival was cancelled on April 8th. For more information and the event statement, please go here.

We look forward to returning to Europe in 2021!

The Ten Best Answers from Mike & Stone's AMA

If you missed Stone and Mike's AMA on Reddit last night, never fear.  Their answers are archived here, but we've combed through and found you 10 great answers.

From Stone, re: Buckle Up

i wrote the riff in Santiago Chile in my hotel before our first show in SA last time we were there.. i think. i wrote lyrics in seattle about a year ago . it was the last song that was brought to band right at the end of making the record ...fall last year. i love the simplicity of the song> Jeff Ament came in and threw wicked lyrical bass and keys on it right away and the rest is history.. Thank you so much for enjoying. It makes makes me very happy. we rehearsed a few times ... its gonna be gooooooood.

How do you decide who handles which guitar part when writing a song? Is it each of you writing your own parts, or do you write parts for one another?

Depends on the song. I usually am confident that Stone will come up with something great for my songs.On Retrograde he came up with the atmospheric melody in the first part of the chorus.Sometimes ED will have a fixed Idea on how a rythm should be played with references like " make it sound like the KInks" Jeff will have specific melodic leads that he will want me to play. I usually like to hear what the guys will come up with on their own.Mike

From Mike, re: singing
I really want to sing for songs I write outside of Pearl Jam. Its been daunting cause Ive been around the best ! Im taking singing lessons from Sue Carr in Seattle shes really great and Im practicing a bunch.

Stone: follow-up to Moonlander when?!
Im finishing up a record i co wrote with Mason Jennings that is a song away from being mixed. Its called Painted Shield. its really good. Hopefully out in a few months if we survive this crazy shit .

Is there any chance that we could get another lost dogs type album with all the unreleased songs from Avocado onward

Hope you’re both doing great in these tough times and thanks again for all the amazing music, can’t wait to see you guys live when all this is over!

Gigaton is its own record. Id love to record more music in this time of pandemic but its imoportant that we are all taking measures to be safe. Good Idea about Lost Dogs 2 Ill bet we have the music for that.MM

 Hi there. Quick escape has a very rare (and wonderful) effect on the guitar, on the solo, how do they do that? With any pedal, which one? greetings from Argentina
Stone: What solo ... first or second...? the first solo is me and he had lots of crap on it... harmonizer and octaver plus tons of distortion.... Thats all Josh Evans on effects choice . It might be guitar direct into the board and distortion with preamps .. i do love that line though.. stone

Mike: On Quick escape I was using a bunch of pedals .One for sure was the Electric Mistress flanger that Alex Lifeson turned me on to.I love that pedal. I also asked Josh Evans and Neil Hunt at separate times to move the switches on an old delay while I was playing so I would get a sound that I couldnt repeat live. I wanted it special for the track

Have been pretty blown away by the cover of Hunted Down by Soundgarden that Stone is doing lead vocals on that was one of the recent ten club singles. Was wondering how that cover came about? It's a really exciting interpretation of that song.
Thanks . i can't get that lyric out of my head. It speaks to me how we spend our lives hiding from( metaphorical) howling dogs. I remember hearing that song for the first time as a test pressing of the Subpop single at one our local music bars.. My jaw fell through the floor ....Matt fucking Cameron and Chris Cornell showing why SG is one of the greatest of all time. sg

Mike: any plans for a solo record?
I would like to do a solo record some day and have some Ideas for it. I hope it will happen in the next few yearsMM

It seems like you guys had a lot of choices for this record, the one notable that missed the cut is Can’t Deny Me. Two years ago when you guys released it as a single, did you have a different concept for the album? If so, when did that all change?

Also, was Of The Earth ever considered for this album? I love the song and would love to hear a studio recording of it some day (hoping that maybe we have enough “Stray Cats” laying around)

Cant Deny Me was a single that came out when we didnt have a record out.It might come out again someday but Im not sure. I think Ed feels like we havent gotten the best take of Of The Earth from what I remember.I hope we can get it sometime>MM

If you Mike, and you Stone could freely pick a Neil Young cover to play love (From his vast amount of amazing songs) - which one would it be? Off the top of your head? Other than Opera Star off Reactor that is!
I keep humming The Great Divide. It really is stuck in my head. Lets play that as a cover!!!! sg

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Pearl Jam at Hyde Park Cancelled; Band Considering Other European Shows

This from Pearl Jam's Facebook page:
We've just been informed that BST Hyde Park 2020 has been cancelled. We are hugely disappointed to share this news and are working closely with event organizers on our possible 2021 return.

In the meantime, ticket holders can hold onto their tickets. For the official statement and full refund information:

We are assessing the rest of the 2020 European tour dates with partners and plan to have a full tour update on Friday. We appreciate your patience in understanding that Ten Club customer service has no further information to share until then.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Fan Club Singles 2017 & 2018!!

Yes, it is about time!  If you head to the downloads section of Pearl Jam website, those of you who were paying members in 2017 and 2018 will have four songs to download.  

The 2017 Single is a pair of Eddie Vedder covers, Tom Petty's Wildflowers, and Warren Zevon's Keep Me in Your Heart.

The 2018 Single are Pearl Jam covers, Soundgarden's Hunted Down, featuring Stone Gossard on vocals, and Chris Cornell's Missing (from the Poncier EP)

Download them today plus the two missing issues of Deep magazine.  The 45s can't be far behind.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Eddie Vedder Joins One World Together at Home

Pearl Jam has announced that Eddie Vedder will be one of 25 musical artists streaming live as part of One World Together at Home, a streaming event hosted by Global Citizen and benefiting the World Health Organization.

The show will take place on April 18th on a long list of streaming platforms, including Amazon, YouTube and Apple TV, but the time is unclear at this point.

For the most up-to-date information and to receive e-mail notifications, visit the Global Citizen website.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Artwork Leak for Gigaton II?

Lost Humans cover art, with a flat-lining EKG?

Last night, one of our Australian members received some mock-up artwork from a a source close to Pearl Jam.  Based on information from the source, this is an on-going project that may be under consideration due to COVID-19 and the "Stay At Home" orders that have postponed Pearl Jam's North American Tour and kept the band in isolation from each other.

The files came with the name, Gigaton II: Lost Humans.  This is, no doubt, a working title, but it may be a play on Lost Dogs, the previous collection of b-sides by the band, released in 2003.

Reversed imagery from the spine of Gigaton?
There certainly is no shortage of demo material that has leaked since 2003 and a few songs have dropped onto Fan Club singles, soundtracks, and compilations.  Is there second collection of b-sides on their way to us?  Is there a sequel of Gigaton in the works already?  Sadly, we're left only with questions and a couple of poorly-cared for jpeg files.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mike McCready: Live from the Bathroom, Again

At least one member of Pearl Jam isn't letting COVID-19 stop him from playing music for the fans.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Gigaton: Track-By-Track with Josh Evans

Variety published an amazing interview with Josh Evans where he breaks down Gigaton, track-by-track in amazing detail.  If you're listening to Gigaton today, you MUST read this article while you do.
“The mission statement for the record was, if it sounds good and feels good, go with it,” he says. “Nobody was like, how come the first verse doesn’t sound like the second verse? It was a real playful experience of going down different roads and seeing what happens.”
The interview even includes the most important question that we ask EVERY album.
Did you finish any other songs during the recording sessions? 
They’re always working on something. It’s hard to say, because it’s not really done until it’s out. There are all kinds of things sitting on hard drives — from pieces of ideas to something one of the guys might consider a finished song. As far as mixing the record, these were the only 12 songs we mixed. Sometimes you have to capture these moments. If “River Cross” had sat around for another four years in its two-thirds-finished state, it probably never would have gotten finished, because the world would have changed. Creatively, they’re looking forward right now — that’s what’s exciting for them.

Ed and Jeff on The Bill Simmons Podcast

Ed and Jeff spoke with Bill Simmons yesterday to talk about Gigaton, cancelling a tour, the early days of the band, and, of course, basketball.
The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is joined by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament to discuss a wide variety of topics, including Pearl Jam’s first concert, the Seattle SuperSonics, hanging with Dennis Rodman, the best music venues, tour stories, their new album Gigaton, and MUCH more.

The Gigaton Official Visualizer

While you wait for your vinyl to arrive, enjoy the Gigaton Official Visualizer.

It's Gigaton Day!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pearl Jam Live Chat on YouTube

Tonight at 9pm ET, Pearl Jam will be live on YouTube to chat with fans (or each other?  It's not clear.).  Tune in tonight, and then stay on at midnight for the "video" premiere of Gigaton.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Quick Escape: The Game!

If you were a fan of Pearl Jam's 8-bit Home Run Derby Game, you're gonna love the new Quick Escape game they just made available!  You can listen to the latest single from Gigaton via Spotify, Apple Music, or Deezer, while you shoot down aliens with your favorite member of Pearl Jam.

Video: Quick Escape

This morning, as a last minute goodie, Pearl Jam dropped one more video for Gigaton, out in just two days.  Credits for the Quick Escape video haven't come out yet, but we do know writing credits for the song.

Lyrics by Eddie Vedder
Music by Jeff Ament
Guitars, keys, and drum loop by Jeff Ament
Keys by Brendan O'Brien

Monday, March 23, 2020


Four more days!  But if you can't wait for Gigaton, you can call 585-20-PEARL (585-207-3275) to leave the band a message and listen to clips for all the songs on the album.

Josh Evans: Gigaton MVP?

One of our favorite things about Gigaton is the way it sets itself apart from Pearl Jam's independent work, their last 3 albums.  How much of that was the band?  How much of that was the new producer, Josh Evans?  Since Josh is, apparently, the new blood in this process, it's easy to hold him up.

We may never know for sure, but Rolling Stone Italy tried to get to the bottom of it in an interview with Josh Evans this week.  We, here at Red Mosquito, are monolingual and hand to depend on Google Translate, but you can check out the interview in its entirety here.
The album [...] is the result of sessions of almost home-made recordings spread over a long period of time during which musicians have often worked on songs individually or in pairs. The collector and guarantor of these sessions is called Josh Evans, has been collaborating with Pearl Jam for fifteen years, is their trusted sound engineer and for the first time co-produces their album.
Here is what we learned about how the process may be setting Gigaton apart.
The Gigaton sessions had started almost two years earlier, in January 2017. "Inside the Warehouse a small recording room has been created, the GT Studios. Nothing in particular, just the cabin for the battery, the control room. It is as if it were a home study. Some recordings were made before January 2017, the River Cross pump organ is from 2015 for example, but that was when they started getting serious. For a couple of months he worked every day. Not all together, but someone was always there. There have been breaks for the tour. And the death of Chris Cornell in May stopped everything. He was a friend and a source of inspiration for everyone. It blew us away. It took a year to recover and process the mourning."  It is said that Comes Then Goes is dedicated to Cornell. "I don't know specifically. But I'm sure there's a bit of Chris in all Gigaton songs . And so it is in his texts he tries to make sense of what he lives, raising his daughters, climate change, Cornell"


"They no longer wanted to get together in the hall, turn on the amps, play and record, even if some piece born like this is there, for example Who Ever Said that basically they are the ones who play together in the same room even if then Mike put some strange atmospheres experimenting with the E-Bow. Maybe two members of the group came to the studio and recorded a draft song. The next day, two others came and radically rearranged what had been done the day before. And on the third day someone else came and took his own. The important thing was to have an open mind and not be afraid of messing up writing and recording. The rule was: no rule. "

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gigaton: The TSIS Review

This is going to be a long review, but before I start, I want to share a post from McParadigm, maybe the most consistently insightful poster on Red Mosquito:
This is an album about surviving past the end. It’s an unexpectedly appropriate subject for this day and age, and Pearl Jam is a uniquely authentic musical voice for it. They are capable of capturing, without fetishistic assumption or romanticism, the real experience of survival. They know what it means to live with losses that you can’t outlive. They know it’s not always going to feel like it was worth it.

So save your predictions, and burn your assumptions. But the band also wants you to feel the natural jubilance of the phrase “there’s much to be done.” Its reaction to the bitter end isn’t trademark fury, but just the same I’m still alive, different day.

The inspirations were clearly (primarily) Trump and climate change, but the band’s empathetic fixation on surviving hardships (both physically and spiritually) make this the ideal album to carry into uncertain quarantine. It’s an album that wants you to feel less alone. First, do no harm. Then: buckle up.

Even the president, lazily disparaged, is then immediately sympathized with in terms the band cannot help but understand. “His best days gone, hard to admit,” and here the smugly-strutting song becomes a mother’s hug. “Angry punches, with nothing to hit.” It’s like a Riot Act song all grown up...still furious for all of the denied and powerless, but now able to find its own reflection in the failures of the powerful.

Pearl Jam used to make albums about surviving the moment. Then, for a while there, they sort of made albums about remembering what it was like to be surviving the moment. Now, they’re finally ready to talk about you do next. Which in its way is just another kind of promise to survive. Whoever said it’s all been said gave up on satisfaction.

I could very well end up humiliated by how much I like this. I’ll live with it. Because whether or not this is a great record, it hits me right now because I’m pretty scared but hoping, and a hope dies last.

He perfectly encapsulated my thoughts and experience of this album.  So if you have some time to kill and want to watch me say in 6,000 words what he just said in 350 you're in luck!  But if you have somewhere else to be he nailed it, and you don’t need to read any further.

Gigaton is not the album I was expecting, but it was exactly the one I needed right now.  More than any other Pearl Jam album this feels like a tonic.  A warm blanket, a mother’s hug. A lullaby.  A prayer.  Hope. 

This album was clearly inspired by climate change (a gigaton is a term of measurement used to measure loss of ice from the planet’s giant ice sheets), and the existential challenge of Donald Trump – a man who has confirmed our worst fears and fed our worst impulses. His continued, baffling levels of popularity (low for a president, but staggeringly high given what he represents) have held a mirror up to all of us, and it's hard to like what we see.  And the knowledge that millions of people embrace what he represents raises terrifying questions about who we are, and what ties, if any, still bind us.

That’s where Gigaton came from. But it is impossible not to experience this album through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though it was written and recorded months and years prior.   We are all experiencing this in different ways. Some of us are sick or have loved ones who are.  Some of us have lost jobs or know those who have. All of us are at risk.   At work I am being asked to help lead a coordinated response to an unprecedented set of circumstances. Our actions will impact the lives of thousands of people.   And I cannot help but stop and look around and wonder where the adults are who will take care of this problem for us.  This cannot possibly be my responsibility.  But I look around and I realize that I am the adult, and no one is coming.

I have to be strong and confident and certain every day.  For my family, for the people I work with, for the people I serve.  But the truth is I am terrified and I don’t know what to do. About the pandemic. About the environment. About any of it. All I can do is the best I can, and hope that it is enough.

Pearl Jam has been a part of my life for almost 30 years. And during that time I’ve always looked to their music to help me articulate and understand my own experiences – to put into words and music what I know to be true but cannot always express. And given what is at stake in the world I expected an album that raged and roared at the injustice and unfairness of our current moment.   But that’s not actually what I need right now.  I know how to be angry. I’ve been angry for years. I know how to articulate it.  And I don’t know where it’s gotten me. Or gotten any of us.     I don’t want the best parts of me diminished by this moment.

What I needed, more than anything, is a comforting and familiar voice to embrace me. To tell me that it’s okay to be scared, and it’s okay to have hope that things will be better.  Because without that hope they won’t be.

Gigaton understands this perfectly.  It rejects anger without diminishing the legitimacy of the feelings causing it.  It has the maturity and the confidence and the experience to reject the cynicism of the time and realize that only by embracing our better selves, together, can we chart a way forward.  It refuses to mire itself in anger or sadness, even though these would be easy choices to make.  This is Pearl Jam’s most humanist record, and it arrives at a time when what we need to do, more than anything is recognize the humanity in ourselves and others.

This is a remarkable record, a grown up and adult record in a way no Pearl Jam album really has been before. There has always been an uneasy quality to Pearl Jam’s work, and Gigaton is somewhat unique in the catalog for the comfort it has living in its own skin.  There is never a moment that feels self-satisfied or self-righteous, despite its confidence.  It has nothing it needs to prove, but it has a great deal to share.  It is a record that wants to collaborate, that understands that our best work is done when we are all working together, sharing our strengths and supporting our weaknesses. 

There is a lived-in quality to this record, but it isn’t weary.  It feels less like a survivor recounting their experiences as a form of therapy (which Pearl Jam albums often do), and more like someone offering to tell their story because others might derive some wisdom from  it.  I have often argued that Pearl Jam is at its best when it doesn’t have the answers, and the moments when they think they do can fall a little flat.  But here they get it right. And they get it right because they don’t offer answers, and accept that action doesn’t require them.  Its wisdom is in its empathy, its refusal to judge and condemn, and its faith in commitment to our better selves.  And so while this feels new, it is also in many ways an affirmation and confirmation of the ideas that have been running through the music for 30 years, subtext made text.

In many ways, this is a logical thematic extension of Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam’s first middle aged album. Lightning Bolt dealt with a palpable fear of loss – what happens when you’ve found happiness and don’t know how to protect it?  What if you can’t?  That album understands how tentative and fragile and impermanent victory is.   Gigaton tries to answer what happens when it all falls apart, as it eventually will.  How do you pick yourself back up and go on?  How do you keep fighting after you thought you'd won?  Why keep fighting when it's worse than ever?

The answer is that you accept your own individual limits and imperfections, and you accept them because you don’t have to fight that fight alone.  And you embrace the chaos of the world around you, and learn to swim with it, rather than against it.  And as the tide carries you along you look for the safest harbor you can find, and you take shelter there for as long as you can – but never forever.  It doesn’t end, but the strength of the people alongside you can carry you through your own moments of weakness.  And in the end that may just be enough.

The sound and feel of the album embodies this idea.  It is defined, musically, by its spaciousness.  Every song is allowed to breath.  Every idea is willing to make room for someone else.  The songs are long (this is Pearl Jam’s longest album, with only two songs clocking in under 4 minutes), but they are loose and organic and conversational.  By not being in a rush to build to a point (something that the songs on Lightning Bolt, which had far grander aspirations, were consistently guilty of) space is left for the gradual unfolding of ideas and experiences.  The end result are songs with an impressive degree of emotional and thematic resonance that make this Pearl Jam’s most compassionate album.  The warmth and humanity that was present, but compressed out of many of the recent albums, is front and center in a way it’s maybe never been before.  New producer Josh Evans deserves all of our thanks for so effectively capturing the essence of the band.  This is the first Pearl Jam album that FEELS like a show. 

Everyone does strong work on this album.  Eddie trades in the scorching snarl and scratchy energy (that I loved although many found abrasive) of recent albums for a clarity and warmth that has been absent for quite some time.  There is little that is showy or performative, and his singing feels particularly authentic. Gigaton beautifully captures one of his principle strengths as a vocalist.   The lyrics are quite strong (one of his strongest outings), and there are more than a few times when the lyrics and performance meet to create genuinely staggering moments.

The rest of the band has brought their A game as well.  Jeff Ament in particular is an MVP of the album, but they all create songs rich in atmosphere and texture – this is a very tactile album.  Moments that might otherwise feel simple are adorned and colored in ways that create new layers and surprising moments to uncover with each listen. Every song has a moment for the highlight reel, and even some of the comparatively lesser tracks find a way to justify their inclusion on the album.  The album runs almost an hour, but there is no filler.

WHO EVER SAID: Gigaton begins with an ambient, hazy fade in. It is dream-like (and Gigaton returns to dreamscapes and memory throughout the album), with that nagging, pulsating feeling you get when you try to remember a dream experienced with perfect clarity.   A pause, and then the song rolls up its sleeves and kicks off the album proper, with a slightly dirty, muscular, growly riff that sounds like the distilled essence of badass rock and roll, with Eddie’s vocals matching the music.  It is indignant and righteous and familiar, but after admonishing  "You don’t’ get to speak with twice as much to say" the song sharply pivots to something significantly more loose, as Eddie’s upbeat vocal and the fuzzy guitars make it clear that this is a judgement free zone.   The song swirls around the chorus lyric "who ever said it’s all been said gave up on satisfaction", making it clear that the song plans to celebrate the possibilities present in a vast and complicated world.  It rejects the narcissism of certainty.

In a lot of ways 'Who Ever Said' is a companion piece to 'Mind Your Manners' (a personal favorite). Both argued that our possibilities are limited by our imagination, but 'Mind Your Manners' was angry, judgmental, and desperate where 'Who Ever Said' is gentle, forgiving, and patient (despite being a pretty raucous song). And while 'Mind Your Manners' rails against the people who stand in the way of a better world, in 'Who Ever Said' the singer is mostly interested in interrogating himself.   And the song transitions around the 2:30 mark to a stunning introspective sequence as the singer slowly realizes that the person most standing in his own way is himself, and his refusal to learn from and forgive his (and our) failures.  “All the answers will be found in the mistakes we have made”, Eddie offers in the first of what will be many mission statement moments sprinkled throughout the record.  Jeff’s bass work is particularly striking during this sequence, but Mike and Stone do a great job coloring around the central riff.  

The song is knocked off its feet by that insight and stumbles forward, trying to right itself with increased urgency, recognizing the magnitude of what’s at stake until it explodes back into back into the celebratory final chorus.

It’s a five minute song that manages to feel like three, and there is a stitched together quality to it, a refusal to follow a formula, that becomes a hallmark of much of the writing of the album. This is not an experimental album, but it gives each song a slightly surprising quality, as it becomes hard to anticipate where each song goes next.

SUPERBLOOD WOLFMOON: Like 'Who Ever Said', 'Superblood Wolfmoon' is a surprisingly inventive song hiding in a relatively straightforward pop/punk format.   It eschews the traditional verse chorus verse chorus bridge structure, using the chorus for the intro and bridge, and filling the rest of the song with verses that fall over each other in the frantic pacing of the song.   

Musically there is a brash edge to the playing that makes everything hit  harder, and supports a song that is really a series of epigrammatic insights with the punctuation that it needs.  Standout moments include both Mike’s 80s’ guitar god solo and the counter playing that creates an iron perimeter around it, caging the music in.  The bridge riff is a highlight I wish made a reappearance elsewhere in the song, and the swirling guitar that comes out from underneath the final verse to close out the song sounds incredible.  Eddie’s vocals gallop across the song, with the end of each section clearly denoted by some rising energy that skates close to anger without quite crossing over, or some excellent vocal layering

The song is a slight temper tantrum, as the singer works through the perceived unfairness of the world and the gradual realization that it is not going to give him the clarity and stability he feels he is entitled to no matter how badly he wants it.  But as with every song on Gigaton, the song sympathizes with those all too human frustrations stemming from the denial of an all too human need.  The realization that  "love notwithstanding we are each of us fucked" is hard to swallow and feels like the perfect encapsulation of our moment in history.   “I don’t know anything. I question everything. This life I love is going way too fast” is an overwhelming space to be in, and the breakneck pace of the song (with a fantastic final climax) matches the mood.  Why can’t the world just stand still and let me enjoy what I’ve worked so hard for?  But the song refuses to judge, in part because, despite it all, the singer is holding onto the insistence that things can get better. “I’ve been hoping, and a hope dies last”. There is an indefatigable spirit to 'Superblood Wolfmoon' that manages to be powerful without fetishizing its own power.  It’s an anti-statement of a statement in its way, subtle and easy to miss despite the surface superficiality of the song.

DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS: ' Dance of the Clairvoyants' is the high-water mark of Gigaton. It’s an utterly surprising song that is completely unlike anything else in the catalog – the clean, clipped, precise atmosphere of its first half, the use of keyboards instead of guitar for much of the song, Stone’s excellent rumbling bassline.  It feels fresh and inventive.  Matt’s perfectly calibrated drum machine imitation holds the song together, and Mike’s fierce but understated playing gives the song some critical bite.  The individual parts come together to create a soundscape that is among the most richly textured in the catalog that feels anxious and mysterious, and full of hidden truths if one can only figure out where to look.

But the star here is Eddie, who turns in an incredible vocal performance that starts out as an extremely credible David Byrne imitation (which is appropriate given the slightly paranoid feel of the music – like someone is watching you from beyond the veil) that turns into a showcase reminder of why he was arguably the greatest rock vocalist of the '90s.  It is gritty, forceful, empathic, confident, questing, pleading, and uncertain – sometimes all at once, and is probably his most compelling performance in decades.

While there are a few questionable lines here and there (inconsistency has been a watchword of his writing from the jump) there are some stunningly evocative turns of phrase that reinforce some of the central themes of the first two songs.  The sheer unknowable immensity of the world, the need to accept your own limitations in the face of it, and the power of love to carry you over and through it.  “Expecting perfection leaves a lot to endure. When the past is the present and the future’s no more. When every tomorrow is the same as before.”  It is half statement, half challenge.  A reality articulated but needing to be transcended.

There are some interesting gender dynamics in the song, as Eddie identifies the stubborn (and arguably destructive) insistence on fighting against your insignificance  as masculine, and the willingness to make peace with and transcend what you cannot control as feminine. The realization and recognition that only by fusing the two can we find a way forward is the hidden message of the song – to recognize that being unable to make everything right is not the same as failure. The key is to find something, anything, and make it as meaningful as you can while you still can.  It all comes together in the compulsively danceable rapturous finale of the song, as he surrenders to this epiphany amidst the swirling mess of everything he has to let go.  “Stand back when the spirit comes.”    

There is simply nothing like this in the Pearl Jam catalog, and Gigaton earns the price of admission from this song alone.

QUICK ESCAPE: If 'Dance of the Clairvoyants' is something I never thought I’d hear from Pearl Jam, 'Quick Escape' is something I never thought I’d hear again.  It is a ferocious song, hard hitting in that inexorable way only a mid-tempo song can be.   It’s late period Led Zeppelin meets Rage Against the Machine meets 'Deep'/'Alone' that stomps through its 5 minutes absolutely confident that it will flatten anything in its path.   But for a song this huge it is curiously unaggressive – pitched more as a warning than anything else.  Eddie’s cautionary cries are softened and humanized by the warm harmonizing underneath it.  Mike’s air raid siren solo and Jeff’s thundering bass (and the fantastic interplay between the two during the outro is an album highlight) are meant to draw attention to some impending apocalyptic moment, but aren’t the moment itself.

There is a dream-like quality to the song (though not a particularly relaxing dream) which is appropriate for the lyrics. Eddie is singing about a series of escapes from the present moment.  Trump is referenced (because how could he not be?) but whereas references to George Bush were personal, Trump himself is almost conceptualized as the personification of a particular noxious idea (which, in many ways, he is) – the basest, most self-destructive  tendencies within ourselves.   In the face of that, what else is there to do but run?  Eddie spends the song fleeing, only to end up on Mars (which works much better in the song than it does reading about it).  “And we think about the old days/Of green grass, sky and red wine/Should've known so fragile/And avoided this one-way flight.” There is the realization that this is all fantasy nonsense.  The Mars haven is an empty fiction, and by trying to outrun what was coming they lost their opportunity to change it.

'Quick Escap'e is not the call to arms you find in '7 Oclock' or 'River Cross', but it prefaces that moment.  And it does so with an energy and intensity that I had wanted to find on the album, but Gigaton limits it to this one song. And it turns out it is the perfect amount for the album I need, and that Gigaton is trying to be.  This is an album about making peace with yourself and with the world so you can change it, and there is only a limited window for an abrasive song like this in that process.  It slaps you out of complacency and into focus, but then it’s time to take a breath and get to work.

ALRIGHT:  Alright is that breath.  It is a beautifully atmospheric song that feels like the heat lightning you’d get from an ethereal storm on a warm summer night.  Illuminating, centering, oddly calming in its quiet grandeur and understated drama. It feels like a spiritual successor to the more interesting moments on Binaural, one that managed to pull itself out from under the crushing claustrophobia of that album to end up someplace healthy.

Jeff wrote the lyrics to this one, and the lyrics focus on finding peace within yourself, to carve out a space to breath within the swirling madness of the times. It is an anchoring sentiment within the record, beautifully delivered, and one that segues perfectly into Seven O’clock.  Eddie gives a gorgeous performance – warm, humane, understanding, comforting.  And the music sustains a curious electric edge throughout.  Enough to raise goosebumps and snap the world into focus, but not enough to shock.   When Eddie sings “It’s alright to shut it down, disappear in thin air” the song conveys enough magic and mystery to make you believe it might be possible.  It is a showcase for Jeff’s off-kilter sensibilities, flawlessly executed.

SEVEN O'CLOCK: A thematic successor to 'Amongst the Waves', if Bruce Springsteen wrote a song for Yield it would be 'Seven O’clock'. The centerpiece  of the record, and one of Gigaton's ‘mission statement’ songs, 'Seven O’clock' lays out exactly what is at stake, for all of us.   Expansive and grounded, inspiring and practical, 'Seven O’clock' understands that the power of a dream is found in the real world footprints it leaves. With a thematic callback to 'Quick Escape' it reminds us that “all the lies we could have had” are an unhelpful distraction – something to distance ourselves from.  

In some ways 'Seven O’clock' is a spiritual inversion of 'Sleight of Hand'.  'Sleight of Hand' is a deeply claustrophobic song despite its expansive feel – someone adrift in the void with no way out, and no hope of anything better. Freedom is found in dreams because life is a prison.  'Seven O’clock' emphatically rejects that perspective in the first verse of the song.  The singer wakes with a perfect recollection of a beautiful dream of a better world, and with the will to carry it forward.

“Moved on from my despondency and left it in the bed.  Do I leave it there still sleeping, or still kill - it better yet? For this is not time for depression or self-indulgent hesitance. This fucked up situation calls for all hands on deck. ”

The verses of the song move along from there with a winning, gentle, sturdy confidence as they assess the mess we’ve made of the world.  It is the most humanist song on Pearl Jam’s most humanist album.  It doesn’t flinch from the worst of us and loves us despite and maybe because of, our failures – since they are what make us human.  The singer takes responsibility for his own thoughtless and unintentional inhumanity, and it is hard not to read an environmental message into lyrics like:

 “Caught the butterfly, broke its wing, then put it on display.  While stripped of all its beauty once it could not fly high away. Still alive like a passerby overdosed on gamma rays, another God’s creation destined to be thrown away.” 

He also addresses larger systemic problems, embodied again in the personage of Donald Trump. But even here there is sympathy and understanding, if not empathy – understanding resistance to needed change as the  clutching fear of losing one’s place in the world and the inability to come to grips with the fact that the world leaves all of us behind.  That could be any of us, without someone to help us make our peace with our own impermanence and inspire us to leave something behind for those that follow.

The song moves from dream to the reality of the verses back to the Army Reserve inspired dreamscape of the choruses.  The music grapples with the juxtaposition between dream and reality as the singer draws comfort and inspiration to steel himself for the ugliness of our reality and to find the will to change it.   'Seven O’clock' ends up with the charge “Much to be done.” It less a call to arms than it is a call to roll up your sleeves and get to work.   Impossibly daunting, perhaps, but our dreams show us the way, and the work is not ours to do alone.

NEVER DESTINATION: There is a tight thematic arc that runs through Gigaton, except for 'Never Destination' and 'Take the Long Way'.  'Never Destination' is the now standard mid album ‘breather’ track, though compared to some of its counterpart songs on recent records ('Big Wave', 'Supersonic', 'Let the Records Play') it manages to feel loose without being disposable.   There is a classic '80s rock purity (with a nice Mike solo) to the song – you could very easily imagine soundtracking a montage with its infectious energy. It’s not the ‘faux fun’ of 'Supersonic' (and is coming from a different musical place regardless).  Pearl Jam has written similar songs, but this is probably their most successful iteration.

The energy creates an interesting tension with Eddie’s rapid fire lyrics, which speak to the exhaustion of our times, “never destination, just more denial” and the singer’s fervent wish that they could just ignore the whole thing, knowing full well that they can’t. And the song is capped off with a ‘Daughter’ style tag that may be the best part of the song.   One of the more interesting and notable elements of Gigaton is its willingness to indulge in these detours, and they frequently lead to satisfying little moments like this.

TAKE THE LONG WAY: It’s hard not to wonder if Matt Cameron’s 'Attrition' adjacent contribution to Gigaton was originally written for Soundgarden.  It has the spikey, angular energy you would expect from that description, and features a pretty cool riff with hints of danger, catchy chorus that works on its own, but does feel slightly out of place on the album.  There is a precision and intentionality here that is absent elsewhere on what is a loose and imprecise record.   This does feature a pretty interesting solo from Mike, and there is a compelling dramatic sweep to what feels like it would be the bridge but turns out (somewhat unsatisfyingly) to be the end.   But in fairness, I am not a huge Soundgarden fan, and this is Pearl Jam providing an extraordinarily faithful performance in the Soundgarden style.

Stone’s solo writing contribution may well be the emotional heart of the album.  It has a similar cadence to 'Parachutes', but in a much more sing-songy and innocent, almost childlike form.  If this song had a video someone would be pushing a child on a swing set, and it would be delightful.  This is an impossibly winning song. The music is whimsical in a way Pearl Jam never quite successfully pulled off before, and Eddie has maybe never been this inviting.    It  feels like a hug from your mom. In a time of social distancing Buckle Up is exactly the song you would send to a loved one you were thinking of.

The music and performance is in slight tension with the lyrics which, near as I can tell, are about confronting the mortality of a parent and realizing that they cannot take care of you any longer – the roles are reversed.  The evocative chorus, “Firstly do no harm, then put your seatbelt on. Buckle up”, cycles between the mundane and profound memories, lessons, and influences that make up their legacy.  This is Pearl Jam as comfort food – a warm fuzzy bridge that connects us when we cannot be together. I have older parents, fortunately healthy, but when their inevitable decline this is the song I'll be drawn to.

COMES THEN GOES: 6 minutes of Eddie and an acoustic guitar.  That may have been a dicey proposition. Eddie’s solo acoustic work (much of which I am a big fan of) tends to work best in smaller bites, given the generally repetitive patterns he plays, and that he is not an expansive storyteller. But 'Comes Then Goes' is a triumph.  The music is unadorned but beautifully captured. It feels like he is playing right next to you, with a rich, enveloping fullness.    Eddie turns in an excellent vocal performance, with a melancholy sadness that accepts, rather than wallows, in its pain.  It is not the slightest bit melodramatic, as opposed to recent songs (that I enjoy) like 'Just Breathe', 'The End', and 'Future Days' – and its lived in authenticity gives it extra power.

Comes then Goes seems to be grappling with the death of Chris Cornell, with each verse building towards a concluding lyrical couplet that almost never fails to hit hard:

“Like images of angels in the snow,our courage melts away, it comes then goes.”
“Divisions came and troubles multiplied. Incisions made by scalpel blades of time.”
“Thought you found a game where you could win. It’s all vivisection in the end.”
“Evidence in the echoes of your mind leads to me to believe we missed the signs.”
“The Queen of Collections took your time. Sadness comes ‘cause some of it was mine.”

And like so much of Gigaton, the song is not here to judge. It wants to explore and understand. It recognizes that people drift apart, that they miss signs, that they fail, that they cause each other pain.   It doesn’t make excuses or apologies, doesn’t ask for forgiveness, and doesn’t expect it.  Instead it just wants to name pain and loss and imperfection as inextricably bound up in the reality of being human, and share that human experience.  It makes the sadness in the song both inescapable and cathartic in its inevitability.  A common experience that has and will unite us all.

RETROGRADE:  'Retrograde' is a curious song, an odd hybridization of the subdued busy energy of 'Speed of Sound' and the performative nature of 'Sirens'. It is aiming for a lushness that it is not always successful in hitting, but it is an appealing formula that does grow on you over time. 

In some ways 'Retrograde' serves as a cliff notes for the album thus far, as the 'Never Destination' – 'Take the Long Way' – 'Buckle Up' – 'Comes Then Goes' stretch does not directly address the central themes of the first half of the album.  As Eddie reminds us throughout the song, “The more mistakes, the more resolve. It’s gonna take much more than ordinary love to lift this up.”  Environmental themes and images are more prominent here than any other moment on the album, and they color and give shape to the call for action.

Where 'Retrograde' really comes into its own is in the final two minutes.    Eddie sings “Hear the sound in the distance now.  Could be thunder or a crowd.” It’s a simple lyric that nicely encapsulates the theme of transformation running through the record, making it feel natural, almost inevitable.  And at this point the song really opens up into something cleansing and triumphant – the music swells as Eddie's voice comes in from far away, soaring and majestic in a way that absolutely convinces you a better world is possible if you can just hold onto that moment, lingering just long enough to feel real.   It would be a fantastic closing moment for Gigaton, if not for what follows.

RIVER CROSS: This is a hard song to write about.  It has moved me to tears on at least 5 occasions, and I’ve only been listening to this album for three days.   It is hard to say how much of that is the song and how much is the moment. But I guess it doesn’t matter.  Why it speaks to me is less important then the fact that it does, with an immediacy and a break-taking reality I've seldom experienced from a song.

It’s a simple song, richly adorned.  Eddie plays a pump organ, Jeff’s playing creeps around it, Matt’s drumming gives it a quiet grandeur, and the whole song feels rich and warm and comforting and tangible.  It crawls over and envelopes you.     This is Eddie’s most raw and plaintive performance on the album - the most naked.  It’s maybe the first song on the album that allows him to wear his miles. The honesty creates the alchemy that transforms sentimentality into truth.

There are parallels elsewhere in the catalog. It is somewhat akin to a more communal 'Long Road'.  'Better Days' is similar though this is vastly superior.  In some ways it is closest to 'Indifference', and serves as an answer. If Eddie sat alone in darkness in 1993 wondering whether or not any of this matters, it is not hard to imagine Eddie circa 2019 playing him this song to explain that yes, it does.

'River Cross' is maybe the closest Pearl Jam has ever come to writing a prayer, and maybe that’s what I need right now.  I am an atheist, but I have faith in people. Despite being let down time and time again, I still believe that we can be better than we are.  We cannot give up on ourselves.  And that’s the message of 'River Cross'.

The river in the metaphor serves as a barrier, and the song confronts the stark and awful reality that the other side – the dreams we have, the life we want for ourselves, for our children and for the world – is drifting further and further away.  The struggle is harder. The challenges greater. The world scarier. The river is rising, widening. 

“Drifting in the undertow, can’t spot a figure on dry land.
And afterthoughts of safety, when in truth, none to be had.”

It names the powerlessness we all feel.  “Living beneath a lion’s paw, knowing nothing can be tamed”.    And later, “Folded over, forced in a choke hold, outnumbered and held down”.

But at the end of it all, there is still the refusal to give up on the world.  We still have everything we need. We just need to embrace.  The way communities have ralied around each other in the face of COVID-19, of any of the increasingly frequent tragedies that plague us is evidence of this.

“And all this talk of rapture, look around at the promise now.
Here and now.”

We are the promise he is singing of.  And for every act of horror the world inflicts on us, or we inflict on each other, it is offset by acts of kindness and impossible love.  And they always have been.  And as long as we don’t lose sight of that we can make it.  Absent any other touchstone we still have each other.

Eddie could give this song a soaring conclusion like 'Retrograde' but instead we get the chanting.  And that’s because it’s not about him, in the end.  It’s about us.  The only way across is together.

And there is still time.