Monday, May 01, 2006

The silver lining to living in f*cked times

Play it: Pearl Jam Pearl Jam

Whenever a conservative administration is in power for a period of time, music (and art in general) seems to take off. Think about it.... Nixon brought us Punk, Reagan/Bush brought us the rise of the Alt prefix (and Grunge) and now we're experiencing it all again. These times also seem to bolster artists who've been around awhile.

Think about it... if it weren't for the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld wrecking trio, do you think Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Pearl Jam would have released albums as vital to the national pulse as they have done in this last week? Notice that PJ is now listed in the same sentence as Bruce and Neil... it's a place where Eddie Vedder feels most comfortable, lyrically (and musically, for PJ, if we toss The Who in there, even if Townshend's lyrics aren't necessarily so weighted in the plight of the common man.) Like Bruce, Pearl Jam is an entity I've more respected then liked, but like the Boss' latest, this one is harder to ignore, partially because Pearl Jam takes a better aim at Bush here then they did w/ 2002's Riot Act ("Bu$hleaguer",) but then of course, the target's gotten pretty huge.

It's perhaps fitting that this is the first self-titled release from the Seattle band, as it's a more revealing album. The first five songs are stripped to a balls-to-the-wall urgency that clamors for your attention, and hats off to whomever for paying attention to track order early on. "Life Wasted" and "World Wide Suicide" are a pretty heavy one-two punch and by the time the organ fades in "Marker in the Sand," it's time to come up for air - and "Parachutes" provides just the thing. After "Unemployable" there's a bit of a letdown, but there are still tracks like "Army Reserve" and "Inside Job" make it worth the while.

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Art by Falco said...

Great blog!!!!

Matt said...

Nice post, I've been a longtime PJ fan and couldnt agree more.

And there are a lot of other great bands out there too doing the same thing.

A personal favorite that others might not know is Josh Ritter. His new cd "Animal Years" has a great song in keeping with this spirit called "Girl in the War." It's well worth your time.