Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam
[Editor's Note: In honor of Rolling Stone polling their readers and "Pearl Jam [taking] the title of Best American Band of ‘06 by a wide margin” I am posting a guest review of their most recent album that I should have posted a while ago. Sorry for the wait becca. – josh]
Bring on the Avocado: Pearl Jam’s “Avocado” Through the Eyes of an Uber-Fan By Texbex, Sound on the Sound Guest Writer
So my family thinks I’m nuts because I re-routed my flight from New York to Seattle through Chicago for an extra $150 last May, after a family wedding in Brooklyn. I felt compelled to do this because Pearl Jam was playing two nights at United Arena and it would only extend my vacation one day, and well; it was Pearl Jam. You see, my philosophy is, “one must seize opportunities to experience good music when one can.” I mean, this band has led me one smidgeon closer to bankruptcy through the years but at this point, I could care less: they’re that good. Besides, I am in the fan club so I get killer seats. The show I attended was phenomenal. My cousin and I spazzed out to the music from the 4th row and the next day, I proudly traveled back to Seattle boasting my shiny new avocado t-shirt.
Anyway, this review may be coming a little later than the others – ok, more like six months later – but I am still in as much awe as the first time I heard Pearl Jam the date of its release, May, 2, 2006. The self-titled album’s cover displays a half-cut Avocado in front of an electric blue background, but when one opens the CD leaflet, they’d see morbid depictions of rotting corpses; disfigured, grotesque portrayals of each band member’s face, and lyrics that still impress many a seasoned fan. The songs cover topics like the horrors of war, the corrupt nature of our country’s current presidential administration, and the questionable existence of God when his so-called followers use religion to legitimize why some people kill thousands and thousands of other innocent people in a seemingly endless, double conundrum excuse for a fight against “terror” (specifically the latter in the song, “Marker in the Sand”).
For weeks, even months after the release of Pearl Jam, I had the album safely nestled in the confines of my car’s CD player, blasting it as loudly as humanly possible so everyone else in Seattle could hear the awesomeness coming out of my Taur-ass’s speakers. The only exception to keeping the CD in the deep depths of my trunk came from occasionally wanting to hear it at work (especially on the day of it’s release, as I sat fidgeting in my cubicle with the largest shit eating grin plastered across my face); or the “you-gotta-hear-this-NOW whether you like it or not!” moments when I ran to my car, retrieved the CD, and played that sweet music; that nectar of the GODS, to my friends who hadn’t yet been exposed to the hardest rocking masterpiece since, dare I say it?- 1996’s No Code. This album not only features the “impeccable” drumming of Mr. Matt Cameron (formerly of beloved Seattle band Soundgarden and my hero, seriously…), it showcases Mike McCready’s songwriting abilities (featured in the song, “Inside Job”). One can definitely sense the band’s uncanny ability of retaining that same rocking scrumtrilescence from years past in such great songs as “Army Reserve” (my second-favorite song on the album) and “Universal Soldier”. This album also incidentally provides the Evil Conglomerate of Clear Channel’s Crony Radio Stations with a popular staple that deejays aired, repeatedly, during its initial ascent to number one on the popular charts; proving once again that Pearl Jam can play by the music industry’s rules and still beat the crap out of the corporate machine with “World Wide Suicide”, their blatant, BLATANT war protest song. The tune has a catchy chorus, despite its woeful message (“The whole world, world over, it’s a Worldwide Suicide”), and at the time of WWS’s release, it was chanted by fans and Republicans alike, much to the irony of Clear Channel’s strict conservative ties.
Not only does this album ROCK in more ways that I can count, it also contains the best bridge ever conceived by man during the song, “Marker in the Sand”. I also love the other hard-hitting gems, such as, “Life Wasted”, “Big Wave” (the chorus of this song is as hypnotic as its bridge), “Severed Hand” (both awesome on the album and live), “Comatose” (I’ve heard some people compare a part of the chorus to a Shania Twain song. Those people are idiots that have too much time on their hands), and “Gone” (also amazing live).
I have to be fair, though, and talk about the tracks that just don’t do it for me because I am only human and I don’t absolutely have to love anything Pearl Jam does because that would be stupid. Besides, I am pretty open about my disdain for the song, “Last Kiss”, and it doesn’t make me any less of a fan because the fucking song drives me up the wall. That said, one of the two slower tunes featured on the album, “Parachutes” (lyrics and music by Stone Gossard), is skipped on a constant basis because the album flows much better when “Marker in the Sand” is followed immediately by “Comatose”. Also featured is Pearl Jam’s first official blues song, “Come Back” which is not really one of my first picks, either, but an admirable little diddy nonetheless.
Simply put, I have not been this obsessed with an album since Ten. It has gotten to the point where, every time I see an avocado on a billboard, I no longer crave guacamole, I crave Pearl Jam. If that’s a testament to this album’s greatness, then I don’t know what is.