Showing posts with label Pearl Jam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pearl Jam. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

25 Deep Cuts from the Golden Age of Alternative Rock



Earlier this week I posted my list of the 100 Greatest Songs from the Golden Age of Alternative Rock. The mid nineties was a time when the music business was so prosperous that even minimal effort could result in a Gold record. I doubt anyone outside of the Deal family could name a second song by The Breeders yet Last Splash still went platinum. I contributed to many of those RIAA certifications (R.I.P. BMG 10 albums for a penny deals that they kept letting you quit and renew for a new batch of albums).

1. Anna Begins – Counting Crows: Not only one of my favorite deep cuts from the era, but one of my favorite songs ever in the history of the world. “Every time she sneezes I believe it is love” meant everything to me in my youth. Still does.

2. The World Has Turned and Left Me Here – Weezer: The Blue Album had the most songs of any album on my list as every song is great. This is my favorite of the rest, just another great teenage anthem.

3. Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana: Quite possibly the greatest performance ever to air on MTV Unplugged.

4. Warehouse – Dave Matthew Band: Record companies are usually good at releasing singles, but for some reasons the singles off of Dave Matthews Band albums are never my favorites. Ants Marching may be my fifth favorite song off their major label debut. The best is Warehouse which only get more epic when you hear it live. And thanks for the band’s penchant for releasing live albums, which will be easy to find because even though they always switch up set lists, there is always a good chance that this song will be represented.

5. Bad Habit – The Offspring: The ultimate road rage song. I probably listened to it way too much while learning to drive.

6. Immortality – Pearl Jam: No list is perfect and my own personal eyeballing of mine is there could have been a lot more Pearl Jam. It is probably after the success of the first album, they decided to step back from the spotlight not making music video or releasing proper singles leaving individual radio station to play their own favorites. Immortality is just the kind of mood I am in right now, but anything on those next two albums is worth checking out.

7. Let Me In – R.E.M.: Those first three R.E.M. albums from the nineties are worth checking out, this is probably the best track on their most fuzzed out album of the trio.

8. Happy Endings – Better than Ezra: I recently read an article where the lead singer suggested that they may have had Goo Goo Doll’s career had they been on a better record label and not one that went under. As a owner of all their albums sans their last I would have to agree as they made some of the best adult contemporary music of the past decade. You can hear them go down that root on songs like this.

9. Sad Songs and Waltzes – Cake: The band had a minor hit with their I Will Survive cover, another stand out on the same album was this Willie Nelson classic. The irony of course was during the alt-rock era, depressing songs were all the rage.

10. I'm the Ocean – Neil Young: The godfather of grunge hooked up with Pearl Jam and made an album which sounded exactly like you expected. This seven minute epic without a chorus is the highlight of the Mirror Ball album.

11. I Love You Mary Jane – Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill: When I first started working on my list I considered some more “alternative” rap song like Insane in the Brain. Instead I will include Cypress Hill’s awesomely weird collaboration with Sonic Youth for the Judgment Night Soundtrack where the two bonded over their love of the sticky icky. The song worked a lot better than their track with Pearl Jam.

12. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins: In the of the alt-rock heyday, who would have expected the Smashing Pumpkins to start their double album with a sweet, well, melon collie, piano-based instrumental.

13. Sir Psycho Sexy – Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Peppers are weird to begin with, but this was easily their most bizarre track from Blood Sugar Sex Magic. The teenage version of myself loved the lady cop verse.

14. Slide Away – Oasis: That first album was brit-pop gold, this was definitely my favorite non-single.

15. The Wanderer – U2: Nirvana gets a lot of credit for the start of the alt-rock era, but with Achtung Baby, U2 was getting weird at the same time. They got even weirder on Zoorepa which ended with a country euro-trash song featuring Johnny Cash on vocals, a year before his carreer got resurrected with the American Recordings series.

16. Swing On This - Alice In Chains: Who would have guessed Alice in Chain would ever release a song that was actually danceable?

17. Pillar of Davidson – Live: There were plenty of epic songs on Throwing Copper, this song may have actually been the most epic.

18. Bogusflow – Beck: DGC Rarities vol. 1 was a must own by any alt-rock fan with plenty of rare gems. At the time, Beck was heading for one hit wonderdom and this drunken Bob Dylan type song was not going to help him out of that label but was awesome nonetheless. I am still waiting for vol. 2.

19. Mad Dog 20 / 20 – Teenage Fanclub: Fun fact: The first legal drink I ever bought was Mad Dog 20/20. I cannot confirm nor deny it is because of this song.

20. April 29, 1992 (Miami) – Sublime: Humorously the band actually got the date wrong in the actual lyrics song (April 26), legend has it that the take with the mistake was the best so they kept it.

21. Steven's Last Night In Town – Ben Folds Five: There were not many New Orleans inspired tracks during the alt rock era, but this one was really good.

22. Brother – Toad the Wet Sprocket: This was off their “rarities” album which was one of the few albums that was just as good as the “proper” albums in an artist discography.

23. Price to Pay – Blues Traveler: Just great storytelling in this song and of course plenty of harmonica.

24. Carrion – Fiona Apple: The big hits of this album were song of Fiona’s more angry songs; I also appreciate her more subtle songs like this one.

25. Nada – The Refreshments: In the introduction I mentioned how easy it was to get a Gold album, this is one of the few bands from the time that did not manage one and I am not sure why, I really enjoyed both of their albums. Maybe too southern and not enough alternative in their rock. And then too weird for the country crowd. Nada was a great way to end that first album.


Honorable Mentions

Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Butch Vig Mix) – House of Pain: Another rap song I considered for this list, but the Butch Vig version. Vig was fresh from producing Nevermind and a few years away from becoming a founding member of Garbage and gave an alt-rock bent to the song.

Iron Man – The Cardigans: I considered a couple songs by the band for this list but Lovefool was a bit too poppy and Been It just missed the cut (had I expanded the end date by a year, My Favorite Mistake would definitely made the list). But the album was much more weird and darker than you would expect from the group that brought you Lovefool, case in point this trippy cover of the Black Sabbath song.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Everybody’s Thinking That They’ll All Be Delivered Save it in a Box Like Lost and Found



Lightning Bolt - Eminem

Two years ago, Pearl Jam celebrated their twentieth anniversary with a Cameron Crowe directed documentary and now the band is back after their longest layoff in between albums (four) with their tenth album, Lightning Bolt. While many of their peers from the alt-rock nineties are content with putting out albums for an excuse to hit the nostalgia circuit with new songs giving fans an excuse to go to the bathroom, Pearl Jam hit a career resurgent with their 2006 self titled album which was their best album since their early nineties output.

That continues with Lightning Bolt, the first couple songs that recall those first three albums. Getaway is just classic, straight ahead rock reminiscent of Last Exit. That is followed up by Mind Your Manners and the band has not been this agro since Spin the Black Circle. Lightning Bolt may be at its best when it has its more classic rock elements like on the title track which would have been in heavy rotation on AM Radio in the seventies as well as the first couple tracks.

It is not all retro for the band and they have clearly grown up over the last couple years. Sure the band has recorded a few ballads in their days, some with power behind them, but Sirens may be the band’s first traditionally sounding power balled they have ever recorded, complete with an “ah, oh” repeating ending. The song will certainly raise a few lighters when performed live in concert (for better or worse; it may take a couple weeks before I decide which side I fall down on). For a song more on the pure ballad side, Sleeping By Myself may be the sweetest song the group has ever done and sound like something that would sound less out of place on Eddie’s ukulele album than a Pearl Jam album.

The album does get a little interesting in the middle with Infallible, Pendulum, and the swinging Let the Records Play but they are not the big chances they took on Vs. or Vitology. Lightning Bolt ends with another uncharacteristic ballad Future Days that may have also been written during Vedder’s ukulele period, this time complete with strings. But it is another sweet and hopeful song that shows that the band is one of the few that actually ages well. If Pearl Jam continues on this path, it may be a while before they get to the album full of “bathroom“ songs phase of their career.

Song to Download – Future Days

Lightning Bolt gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Previewing Made in America



Festivals have been a big thing over in England for year, but for most of last decade there was really only Bonaroo and Coachella, and even those two for the most of their existence were thought as hippie festivals for jam bands. I am guessing the disaster that was Woodstock ’99 had something to do with it. But ever since Lollapalooza was re-imagined as a festival putting up roots in Chicago that there have been more and more of them popping up every year.

Just last year Philadelphia got its own festival Made in America founded by hip-hop impresario Jay-Z. Where other festivals are very rock heavy events and a token rapper or two, with Jay-Z creating the artist list, the festival ended up being the most diverse lineup ranging from rap to rock to RnB to EDM to blues. Jay-Z even managed to wrangle Ron Howard to direct a documentary for the inaugural Made in America festival which will debuts tomorrow on Showtime at 9:00.

Taking place in the middle of the city, Philadelphia is an important part of the film as we meet the worker at the festival from the stage crew to the food vendors (unfortunately for the documentary, the festival seemed to come off without a hitch as conflict is much more entertaining). Howard even interviews a neighbor to the festival who describes the “bang-bang music” coming in through the windows.

But the heart of the Made in America festival and documentary is the music where you will get a behind the scenes look at many of the artists who played last year. This includes the first performance together by the surviving members of Run-DMC in a decade. Ron Howard gets a DJ lesson from Skrillex who turns out to be much more interesting than his music. The best behind the scenes segment is Janelle Monáe who’s life story is the epitome of Made of America. You also will go behind the scenes with Pearl Jam, Odd Future, D'Angelo, The Hives, Santigold, and get snippets of sets by Gary Clark Jr., Dirty Projectors, Passion Pit, and Jill Scott. Unfortunately you will also have to sit through a lengthy segment featuring Rita Ora. Seriously Jay-Z, stop trying to make Rita Ora happen. You already gave us Rihanna, we do not need another one.

Of course the documentary ends like the festival does with the surprise appearance by Kanye West who joins Jay-Z for some Watch the Throne songs. Jay-Z- ego is on full display for most of the documentary, there is even a full segment on the Barclay’s Center even though Jay is no longer associated with the Nets anymore. And Jay shows up in the wings for most of the performances usually with Beyoncé by his side. That aside, Made in America is a great look at the festival for those who like me were resigned to watching on the live stream. Now you can watch it on your big screen with better speakers.

Made in America airs Friday at 9:00 on Showtime.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 9/30/13




There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.


Shot at the Night – The Killers


Their debut album does not turn a decade old until next summer, but The Killers are already to release their first greatest hits package with two new songs. Like pretty much every greatest hits album with new material, Shot at the Night really does not live up to the rest of the songs included (Mary Jane’s Last Dance is the rare exception). Their video does seem like the most Killer-y music video yet. It does make it very clear that Belle Heathcote needs her own television show on air by next fall.


Sirens – Pearl Jam


I know I have not been the most ardent follower of Pearl Jam of the last fifteen years, but this is the first time I can recall anyone in the band break out an acoustic guitar (not including their Unplugged performance of course). Considering they had a pure power ballad follow up the very agro Mind Your Manners, Lightning Bolt is shaping up to be their most eclectic album yet. I wonder if Eddie Vedder brought in his ukulele from him solo album.


The Heart of Dixie – Danielle Bradbery


Smart bit of marketing releasing Danielle Bredbery’s debut video the same day of the new season of The Voice. The video kind of reminds me a video version of the photo on Carrie Underwood’s debut album, another smart touch, it even had a twist ending (Dixie is the art teacher!!!). But the songs on the album will have to be better than this to have Carrie Underwood type success.


Wake Me Up (Acoustic) – Aloe Blacc


If you remember back to when Avicii released the original version of Wake Me Up I said I liked the song but wished Aloe Blacc would release an acoustic version of the song. Well ask and you shall receive.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ten Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2013



It has been an abysmal year for music. In the first eight months there were only four marquee albums released by Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. Except Yeezus bombed, Magna Carta... Holy Grail and The 20/20 Experience will probably end up being the two best selling albums of the year but were still disappointing, and Random Access Memories has yet to garner a second hit. Just think that the next biggest release this year was the Fall Out Boy comeback. Was anyone even hoping for a Fall Out Boy reunion twelve months ago?

What is worse, the music industry has yet to create a breakout artist this year. Just think back to this time last year when Gotye, Fun., and Carley Rae Jepsen all had massive hits while The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men were still building steam. The closest thing the music industry has to a breakout star this year is Anna kendrick. No shots at Cups because it is extremely catchy but it is sad that an acapella song by an actress from movie released in December of last year is still hovering around the iTunes top ten in September. With that said, I really hope Anna capitalizes on the success and goes into the studio to create a full version of No Diggity. At any rate, rumors are there is a Pitch Perfect Christmas album coming our way this winter.

Yeah the year in music has been extremely bad this year, but hold off declaring that 2013 has overtaken 1999 as the worst year in music ever. Usually it is hard for me to come up with five albums to make up my Most Anticipated Albums list each quarter, but this Fall I could have easily come up with a top twenty this time around and that is not even using the albums that are just rumored to be coming out sometime in the next four months like U2 and The Black Keys. Although I hope all of those marquee albums named in the TBA category hold off their albums until early next year so 2014 does not start off as abysmal as this year. Here are some albums that are scheduled to come out over the next four months. Click on the album title or art to pre-order on Amazon and the artists name to go to their iTunes page.

1. Magpies and DandelionsThe Avett Brothers (October 15): After putting out steller folk albums on their own, The Avett Brothers hooked up with uber-producer Rick Rubin for their best album to date, I and Love and You four years ago. Just last year, they collaborated again for another good album The Carpenter. So my hopes are high when they hooked up for the third time with a new batch of songs recorded during The Carpenter sessions.

2. Wise Up GhostElvis Costello & The Roots (Tomorrow): When The Roots signed up as The Late Night house band, I thought it was slow down their output, but they have managed to put out as much, if not more music than ever. And it has opened them up to unexpected collaborations, The Dirty Projectors, Jim James, and Joanna Newsome have appeared on their albums and The Roots did a whole album with John Legend. And now maybe their weirdest collaboration yet with Elvis Costello. And like the previously mentioned collaborations, this one weirdly works.

3. Pure HeroinePure Heroine - Lorde (September 30): If you had at the start of the year a sixteen year old from New Zealand who spouts anti-materialism anthems as the breakout star of 2013, you would be raking it in right now. And while Miley is off twerking, Lada Gaga is trying to hard to be shocking, Katy is recycling songs, and Britney trying too use profanities again to jump start her career, the pop world really needs Lorde right now. Her five song EP was great and though Royals will pop up on the full length debut everything she has done so far has been great. Seriously, she even made a song off of Yeezus listenable.

4. From Here to Now to YouJack Johnson (Tomorrow): At this point, Jack is not changing anyone's mind, and the new album will not be changing anyone's mind. But if you are already on the Jack Johnson bandwagon (like me, I own all of his albums), he has put together another set of songs that will help you remember the summer as the days start getting shorter.

5. Days Are GoneHaim (September 30): This fall is so jammed packed with music, the two highest profiled debuts arrive on the same day (not so coincidentally, I believe this is the last day to be eligible for the 2014 Grammy Award which is why so much music is being released on a Monday instead of the usual Tuesday; and Haim and Lorde are pretty much a lock for Best New Artist along with Kacey Musgraves with the other two slots taken by Capital Cities and... um... could Anna Kendrick really get the last spot? Actually the Grammys will probably not realize 2 Chainz has been around for a decade and give him the final spot). Like Lorde, Haim put out a solid EP which mixed southern California pop with nineties RnB and somehow makes it sound awesome. Listening to Heartache Tonight biting first single, their full length debut will be more of the same (but unlike Lorde, much of their EP shows up on Days Gone By).

6. Lightning Bolt Pearl Jam (October 14): After some unremarkable albums durning the late ninties to the early 00's, Pearl Jam has had a bit of resurgence with their last two album. They go full agro on first single Mind Your Manners which brings up memories of Spin the Black Circle off their best album. Here is hoping Lightning Blt turns out to be their best album yet, or at the very least the best since Vitology.

7. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - Eminem (November 5): I cannot say I have ever anticipated an Eninem album, but that all chanced with the release of Berserk and word that the album is being co-produced by Rick Rubin and Dr. Dre. As you can tell by the cameo in the video Rubin was responsible for the beat, the first he has done since 99 Problems a decade ago (both sample a Billy Squire which make me wonder if Rubin will try to resurrect his career Johnny Cash style in the near future). No word of Eminem goes full retro on the whole album, but I certainly hope so.

8. NewPaul McCartney (October 15): Another artist I usually do not get too excited for, because aside from Spies Like Us, is there any other solo songs from Paul McCartney to get excited about? But for his next album, the former Beatles has teamed up with probably the best new producer of the past decade, Mark Ronson whose retro soul style helped launch the careers of Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Adele.

9. Speak a Little Louder - Diane Birch (October 15): As Ronson ushered in a new age of retro female British singers, American Diane Birch was unfortunately ignore with her retro leaning debut Bible Belt which was one of my favorite debuts from last decade. From what I have heard, the follow up is a bit darker with influences from eighties shoe-gazers. Hopefully the whole album is as good as the first one.

10. To All the Girls… - Willie Nelson (October 15): Willie Nelson is jumping on the duets bandwagon, but as the title suggests, he is just singing with his favorite ladies including featuring Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Tina Rose, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Secret Sisters, Brandi Carlile, Lily Meola, Shelby Lynne, Melonie Cannon, and Paula Nelson.

I put together a Spotify playlist of the first singles off of the albums listed above which you can listen to at right while you peruse seventy other albums coming out this fall that should at the very least be worth a spin on Spotify.

Last Week
The Electric LadyJanelle Monáe
AMArctic Monkeys
Feels Like HomeSheryl Crow
Kiss LandThe Weeknd
B.O.A.T.S. 2# Metime2 Chainz
DynamicsHoly Ghost!
Now, Then and ForeverEarth, Wind and Fire
Say That to Say ThisTrombone Shorty
Sound System - The Clash

Tomorrow
New ConstellationToad the Wet Sprocket
In Rolling WavesThe Naked and Famous
Spreading Rumours - Grouplove
Battle Maximus - GWAR
BookmarksFive for Fighting
MGMTMGMT
Sun Will Rise – Animal Years

September 24

Mechanical Bull – Kings of Leon
The Diving BoardElton John
The Last Ship - Sting
Seasons Of Your DayMazzy Star
Build Me Up From BonesSarah Jarosz
NegativityDeer Tick
Bones of What You BelieveCHVRCHES
WishboneOh Land
Shout! - Gov't Mule
Sammy Hagar and FriendsSammy Hagar
My Brothers KeeperK-Ci and JoJo
Metallica Through The Never (Music From The Motion Picture)
In Utero (3CD+DVD Super Deluxe Edition)Nirvana

October 1
VIIBlitzen Trapper
Blur the Line – Those Darlins
B-RoomDr. Dog
I'll Find A WayThe Blind Boys of Alabama
InnocentsMoby
UnvarnishedJoan Jett and The Blackhearts
Lucky Numbers - Dave Stewart

October 8
Back to ForeverLissie
Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of SongAmos Lee
Bitter RivalsSleigh Bells
Tin StarLindi Ortega
You Can't Make Old Friends - Kenny Rogers
Frame By FrameCassadee Pope
High RiseStone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington
MelophobiaCage the Elephant
My Name Is MyPusha T

October 15
Let's Be Still – The Head and the Heart
Make A Move - Gavin DeGraw
StaticCults
No Poison No ParadiseBlack Milk
Mary ChristmasMary J. Blige
Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered (2xCD+DVD) - Eric Clapton

October 22
Smoke and MirrorsBrett Dennen
Fade Away - Best Coast

October 29
Reflektor – Arcade Fire
Night Time, My Time - Sky Ferreira
Get There – Minor Alps (Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws of Nada Surf)
Wrapped in RedKelly Clarkson
Recharged - Linkin Park

November 5
Magic Hour - Luscious Jackson
Mantangi – M.I.A.
Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne
Loved Me Back To Life - Céline Dion
Miami Pop Festival - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

November 12
Black Panties - R. Kelly
Under the Covers, vol. 3 – Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
November - Grace and Tony
Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack
Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection - Jewel

December 3
Love, Marriage and Divorce – Toni Braxton and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds

TBD
blackSUMMERSnight – Maxwell
The Art of War: World War III - Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Fading West - Switchfoot
Beck
Better Than Ezra
Beyoncé
The Black Keys
Common
Danielle Bradbery
Ed Sheeran
Lily Allen
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
U2

And of course I have to mention the obligatory this may be the quarter that Dr. Dre finally releases Detox.