Sunday, September 20, 2009

Backspacer Review

After what feels like several excruciatingly long months since the announcement, Pearl Jam's new cd, Backspacer, finally was released today!!

We had a taste of the new sound when Pearl Jam performed on Conan O'Brien's first stint as the Tonight Show host, when they performed "Get Some". Then radio stations, if you were lucky, would play "The Fixer" every once in a while. Everyone seemed to have differing release dates. First it was going to be September 22nd, then the 27th, then ...? Finally, yesterday on Facebook, it said that you could hear the album in its entirety on Myspace as of yesterday, and that the album would be available today.

Despite being sick, I got up this morning, anyway, and took a shower. I then made myself get groceries first, because I knew once I had my hands on the cd, I would be sitting inside all day listening to it.

I went to Barnes and Noble, because I have a gift card there, and taunted myself by wandering around downstairs first. Finally, I went upstairs to the music section, and was surprised to see that there were no cds. I actually inquired at the desk, and he had no record of it even being an upcoming release. Confused, I came back downstairs, and combed through the magazines.

Rolling Stone had a short little blurb giving it 4 stars, but provided no info on the release date. Spin had them on the cover, so I picked that up. (Fun read, and you can order a special copy as well, complete with Vedder flipping you off, lol.)

Sadly, I came home, relying solely on the "new" import singles I picked up last weekend, that are actually from 2002. I went online, and finally found an article that explained that Pearl Jam was only releasing the cd through their website, indie stores, and one major retailer......Target.

I flew back out to the car and headed for the nearest Target location, fully prepared to drive all over the city if necessary. As soon as I walked into the first one, I was greeted with a giant display, with hundreds of available copies. A quick perusal of the store also found me "The Fixer" on vinyl. (Now to get that stupid needle for my turntable!)

Not wanting to interrupt the initial listening to go from car to inside, and wanting to bask in the glory of surround sound in the car, I aimlessly drove throughout the suburbs, listening to Backspacer with the windows rolled down. I even got lost at one point....

The initial 4 tracks, "Gonna See My Friend", "Got Some: "The Fixer", and Johnny Guitar", as well as the later track "Supersonic" are a throw-back to the good ole punk days, when Pearl Jam was happy and rocking out for the sake of music. I can feel the intensity of the live performance already, and am salivating for the next tour encounter. No matter how the studio album sounds, you can be guaranteed of the penultimate presentation of the songs when the guys are in their element.

"Just Breathe" has echoes of Into the Wild as the chords are similar to Eddie's award-winning "Guaranteed". If I remember correctly, I believe this is the song that R.S. claims will be the PJ wedding song. Whatever. Yeah, it's a love song, but this Pearl Jam fanatic has found several other possibilities for her wedding, as well, trust me.

Also unique to this song is more of a country sound from Ed. I haven't yet heard this out of him, at least not on an original song. Mike McCready has played with a country sound in some of his live renditions of songs. There is just no denying the impact of good music.

"Amongst the Waves" is Ed's obligatory tribute to the ocean: "Riding high amongst the waves I feel like I have a soul that has been saved." While I do not surf, I can completely appreciate this, as my trips to the ocean are just as purifying and cleansing as, well, going to a Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder show. Two summers ago I was fortunate enough to enjoy 2 Pearl Jam shows, 2 Eddie Vedder shows, and one glorious day at the ocean, all in Boston. People have told me I've never looked so happy. And then, of course, there was that infamous trip to Albany this past summer, when we actually met Eddie.....TWICE.

"Speed of Sound" and "Force of Nature" could also fit in with Riot Act and Binaural.

"The End" also is somewhat reminiscent of Into the Wild. So, the new album is a punk-meets-ITW-meets-country mix of masterful wonderfulness that gave me goosebumps on the initial listen, and will in person, as well. Go get it, already!

For more on my love affair with Eddie's lyrics, read Eddie Vedder Pens the Lyrics that Fulfill My Soul....and stay tuned for more!
[Photo taken by Amy Dillon in Albany....using hers, because I STILL haven't uploaded mine! lol]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looks aren't everything

I got home late tonight from Parent Night at school. Sitting down at the computer to check email and what-not, I turned on the TV. Automatically my TV turns on to NBC, so I managed to catch the last few minutes of the season finale of America's Got Talent. Susan Boyle was the final performer.

Watching her transition from the frumpy woman with a moustache who appeared to be a joke to the magnificent songbird with a makeover still gives me chills. And looking at tonight's winner, who first came on stage, I guess, he was a similar situation. It looks like he started with a backwards baseball cap and said he chased chickens. But he, too, has an amazing voice and talent.

It just goes to prove that looks aren't everything. Too many of today's performers are strictly judged on their looks. "Ugly" people never seem to have a chance, because no one will give them a second look. How many other people haven't been able to showcase their talents, simply because they don't look as beautiful as they sound?

Before the advent of even cameras, men were elected President based solely on their qualifications and eloquence. Would George Washington get elected today with his wooden teeth? Or how about the freakishly tall Abraham Lincoln? How many brilliant minds have been ignored because of looks?

For some reason it really bugged me tonight.......