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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
I've been waiting for this album for a while and now that it's out I'm loving it. The album met or exceeded all my expectations. I took a 6 hour road trip the other day (the day the album was released)and I played this album the entire way, and with every listen I loved it more and more.

Pearl Jam is pretty much the last band left from what was a great era of music (early 90's), and thank God they're still doing their own thing and not "going techno" or anything lame like that because the music these guys are making is amazing. No corporate BS, no plotting out the music for the pop-radio-sucking masses, no hype. Just heartfelt, well written tunes have something to say. Speaking of which, PJ really lays it down on the Bush Administration here ("No more upset mornings/No more trying evenings/It's the American Dream I am disbelieving./When the gas in my tank feels like money in the bank/I'm gonna blow it all this time, take me one last ride").

The album opens with a killer track in "Life Wasted," then moves into one of the best PJ singles in a while with "World Wide Suicide," and continues on with the heavy up through one of the albums standout tracks, "Marker in the Sand." "Parachutes" is a really cool acoustic number that paints a picture of tiny men toppling to the earth in little parachutes. "Gone" is another stand out track here, as well as "Inside Job," but my favorite has to be Eddie's lamenting Mazzy Star-esque plea for a dead loved one to return in "Come Back"--brilliant song.

Whether you're a fan of the band, or just looking for something that will give you a real rock fix, this album will not disappoint. Can't wait to see them tour this album--what a show that's going to be.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
Pearl Jam is a band that many love, but few in the mainstream actually understand. Nine out of ten people will say "Oh yeah! Jeremy!" without even batting an eye at their later material. Once Vitalogy came out, that spelled the end for their mainstream appeal, because it represented something that was not easily digestable and warranted repeated listenings. This album is no different. However, it exceeds the excellent (but occasionally murky and obscure) offerings of Binaural and Riot Act. Both albums are very good, but this album hits you with an urgency that hasn't been felt since "Yield" (the pinnacle Pearl Jam album as far as I'm concerned). From the opening punch of "Life Wasted", I'm reminded of why I started listening to Pearl Jam in the first place. Ed hasn't sounded this angry in some time, but he is simultaneously thought-provoking and hopeful. The lyrics are clearly scathing of the Bush administration, but they resonate more than any other 2000's-era protest music. They examine both sides of the problem, from the administration's crimes to the public's apathy towards them. Vedder is not simply spouting off sarcasm like he does in concert; he is truly examining the collective psyche of a society whose morals and respect for human dignity have been all but pushed aside by money, greed, and corruption. This may not be the same "storytelling" he did in earlier years, but the quality is not hindered at all. And besides, I'm sure Vedder is in an entirely different mental and emotional position now than he was at the time of Ten and Vs.. The band is still making a statement that is entirely unconcerned with what the public thinks of them, and more power to them for that. What consistently amazes me about Pearl Jam is the fact that they do what they do, no matter the trends in music at the time. While the mainstream is desperately seeking out the next "indie" trendsetters, Pearl Jam are making great rock and roll on their own terms. They may get a radio single here and there, but they certainly aren't seeking one out. And besides, "World Wide Suicide" is a great song.

The album kicks off with "Life Wasted", a classic rocking Pearl Jam album opener. "World Wide Suicide" is relentlessly catchy and to-the-point. "Comatose" is one of my favorite tracks on the album; it represents the band at their speed-punk finest, even borrowing some oblique counterpoint that reminds me of late Fugazi. "Severed Hand" reminds me of The Who a bit, with its grand arena rock intro, but quickly cuts into a nasty groove with some killer playing from both Gossard and McCready. Matt Cameron is also becoming a true Pearl Jam drummer, playng tasteful and innovative beats and fills rather than hammering out the tasteless AC/DC beats of his early tenure with the band. "Marker in the Sand" ends with a beautiful guitar riff that is very hopeful and impassioned. "Parachutes" is a Stone Gossard song to the core; he is definitely the most underappreciated member of the band. It is a quirky Beatles-esque tune that reminds you of how tender and offbeat Pearl Jam can be. From here on out the rockin' is a little more sparse and not nearly the fury-driven intensity of the first five songs. "Unemployable" is a great song with some really poignant lyrics. "Big Wave" is mockery a la "Do the Evolution"; Ed at his sarcastic best. "Gone" is one of the album's finest tracks, hands down. Definitely pulls at the heartstrings, but not too much. After that comes the mandatory interlude track, which is really just a reprise of "Life Wasted"'s chorus. "Army Reserve" is the last true rockin' song on the album, as "Come Back" and "Inside Job" end the album on a hopeful note. "Inside Job" is especially notable, it reminds me of Binaural's "Parting Ways" in its slow, deliberate climax with a glorious ending.

People expecting this to be a "return to form" for Pearl Jam will be sorely disappointed; I'm still not sure why this album was marketed and reviewed that way. It is certainly more direct and purpose-driven than the last two albums, though those were both great too. The band sounds like they were really inspired for this one. After hearing the production-over-songs method used in Binaural and the folk approach to Riot Act, it's good to be reminded that these guys really are one of the only true rock bands left. Don't get me wrong, I love me some indie and many other types of music, but the passion and originality that Pearl Jam bring to rock music today are second to none.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
For once in a long while, the masses are correct: Pearl Jam has released their best album since their 1994 release, their 3rd album "Vitalogy".
While spectators are sure to draw the similar response, "Well, it's no Ten!" they will no doubt enjoy the raw energy and rusty distortion that has been lost since 1993's Vs.

This is an album of pure emotion.

As a fan of their latest studio album release Riot Act in 2002, the simplicity of harmonies and the epic melodies that danced over guitarist Mike McCready's riff work or bassist Jeff Ament's subtle bass fills were gorgeous. "Love Boat Captain", albeit a ridiculous title, and "Can't Keep" became instant favorites, but admittingly this was an even softer side of Pearl Jam and one that had become even lighter than it's previous releases Binaural or Yield.

Stripped down and still moving ahead, Pearl Jam is nothing but the band. This is their core, as it's album cover implies featuring half of an avocado with the empty hearth on the back. As an eighth studio release, this should have been their fourth or fifth-it sounds like it too.

Back is the punk rock energy that harkens on vintage 1991 grunge in songs "Comatose", "Life Wasted", and "Severed Hand." "World Wide Suicide", their first successful single in a long time, brings the more recent political angle of frontman Vedder with his more melancholic rage. When he sings, "Medals on a wooden mantle/ Next to a handsome face/ That the president took for granted/ Writing checks that others pay", it comes out coughing rather than clean. Vedder's mumbling couldn't come at a better time when the world is so confused and headed toward disaster.

Pearl Jam also brings some lighter highlights that will eventually draw as crowd pleasers. The alternative, feel good, "Gone" chimes in at perfect timing and the "Wasted Reprise" will have everyone scratching their heads and wondering if this is a concept album. It's uplifting, soulful, and hopeful-can you say that about anything these days?

The album closes with the next "Yellow Ledbetter", "Inside Job." Imagine the build up of "Freebird" without the fantastic guitar solos at the end, but still with the same feeling. Maybe throw in a little Zeppelin into the mix, there's definitely hints of it. The progression of the song is right out of a Nancy Wilson score for a Cameron Crowe film; it just takes your heart and warms it in the microwave.

Perhaps this is a concept album. The minimalist cover art might consider this a simple rock band which is maybe what Pearl Jam is trying to convey. They were labeled as grunge when they clearly drew from classic rock and since then they have maintained to stabilize their heritage without ever selling out.

They're revolutionary, they're rebellious, and stripped down they're what every rock band sets out to be. Perhaps this album is a concept of that. Whatever it is, it works and this is by far one of the best albums to come out in a long time for the band.
Pearl Jam fan or not, this one's for you, this one's for everyone, this one just ROCKS!!!
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2006
I'm an old guy whose resume' includes seeing Little Richard live in 1956, Led Zepplin in 1969 and Patti Smith in 2003. After the great Patti Smith concert I planned on retiring from going to rock shows and just purchase cds such as Prairie Wind [Neil Young]. You know, just kind of fade off into the wistful melancholy rock suitable for someone my age. Well through some form of resurrection synchronicity I followed the suggestion of a music store employee that I should hear the new Pearl Jam even though she knew I almost never purchased hard rock and that I did not own any of their previous cds. Well so much for retirement from live performances. I will try to see this band even if I have to struggle through the drama that an arena or stadium venue will impose on my old bones. I know that Pearl Jam is known for great live shows. In regard to the cd which I am supposed to be reviewing here, I have about 10 cds that at the time of their release I considered to be the best album I had heard in my life. Today that is how I feel about this new Pearl Jam cd. This album [and yes it is an ALBUM] rocks with a combination of fury, intelligence and visceral beauty that would be hard to match by any other band. I would not delete one track if I were to transfer this to an Ipod. It will be a long time before I hear a new release and I say "this is the best album I have heard in my life".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2006
Speaking as a massive Pearl Jam fan, this is the best thing Vedder and Crew have delivered in a long long time, but that's not to dismiss everything leading up to it. After listening to this one, and only previously listening to Ten and maybe Vs., and then going directly to this album, it would give one the impression that Pearl Jam declined in quality after it's debut, and finally are making their massive comeback. One who assumes this could not possibly be more wrong. For me, every release of theirs has held it's own against the original, and I view this album not as a comeback, but as just another step forward for the band. Any massive Pearl Jam fan would agree with this. So don't get the idea that this overshadows the rest of PJ's career, this album is just another phase of Pearl Jam.

Now that I got that out of the way, now to talk about the cd. This disc rocks like a beast, and it is filled with pure emotion in regards to the world at large, as well as introspective lyricism. Vedder has never been as revealing and honest about himself as he is on the songs "Life Wasted" and "Gone". And the band has never made as massive a statement on what's wrong with the world today as they do in "World Wide Suicide" and "Unemployable". The songs never repeat themselves and each song stands out. "Wasted Reprise" is perhaps the strongest, and simplest song here, Vedder quietly stating "I've faced it, a life wasted, I'm never going back again" over Boom's organ, Vedder is speaking in regards to his own demons that he has revealed to us, as well as the unavoidable ills of society he has protested against in the 9 songs following it. Vedder is looking upon everything wrong in his life and society and is stating under the emotional burden of what he's witnessing, that he won't take it anymore. This idea is expanded on in the previous song "Gone" where Eddie can't accept what's happening around him anymore, and has to take the car out and drive until he finds a better life. Vedder manages to do in 13 songs what took Bob Dylan many albums to do, start out writing protest song and gradually move into more personal territory.

Musically, the album is the catchiest and loudest Pearl Jam has been in a long time, the subtlety of Riot Act and Binaural could not be used for the themes this album it built on. This disc is built on pure anger towards the world, and so it requires an equally powerful force to drive it. Stone and Mike strum out chords and leads that attack with full force (most notably on "Comatose" which hits with the force of hurricane). Jeff and Matt produce carpet-bombing rhythms, a force-to-be-reckoned-with. You'll see what I mean when you pop this one in your cd player.

Some rreviewers for major newspapers have said that Pearl Jam have become irrelevant in today's world, but with this effort, they could not be more wrong. This album is about witnessing tragedy in society and war everyday, and the guilty burden one feels knowing that one is living their routine life while others are praying for their loved ones to come home safe from war, and others are desperate to get by in a corrupt business world. The album is about facing what's happening outside one's zone of comfort, and doing something about it, something the band does through their massive statements on life as we know it. Pearl Jam are one of the few bands out there today who have the guts to use their voice to speak out against the things that others would rather not think about.

These are things the band has been doing all along, and to say that this is a comeback would be terribly wrong, this is just a progression from what's come before.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2006
Nearly 15 years after TEN, Pearl Jam has finally returned to the strengths of their debut with 2006's 'Pearl Jam'. This is a sharply focused set of impassioned hard rock.

There are none of the "arty" songs (or artistic affectations) that generally cluttered, but sometimes enhanced, albums from , VS. (released in 1993), to RIOT ACT (from 2002). What's left behind is the necessary basics: muscular, mildly meandering rock & roll, enlivened by Eddie Vedder's vocal sincerity.

Pearl Jam sounds harder and more direct than ever here. Even on TEN there was an arty quality to the music, due in large part to Jeff Ament's 'fretless bass' lines, that kept the record from sounding like a Heavy Metal album. While this is not 21st centruy "Metal" (thrash, industrial noise, with cookie-monster vocals), Pearl Jam certainly does 'rock out' here.

The most frcemful songs are in the first half, with tightly controlled rockers like "Life Wasted," "World Wide Suicide," "Comatose," "Severed Hand," and "Marker in the Sand". They give this CD a feeling of tense urgency.

That insistent quality and sense of misison doesn't end. The lightly psychedelic acoustic pop of "Parachutes," is where the CD begins to open up slightly. Tthe second half of this recording does have a greater variety of tempos than the first, but it's still heavy on rockers, ranging from the easy swagger of "Unemployable" to the fury of "Big Wave". The twin closers "Come Back" and "Inside Job" recap the album's range and depth. The former is a slow-burning cousin to "Black" that finds Pearl Jam putting "soul" into their sound. The latter is a deliberately escalating epic that gracefully closes the album on a hopeful note -- and coming after an album filled lyrically with righteous anger and frustration, it is indeed welcome.

I think that this CD is better than most recent efforts because the songs were developed in front of their live audiences, not recorded first and then tried out in concerts. The consequence of the 'perform live and then record' approach is a set of songs that are far stronger and which have far more listener impact than most recent recorded music.

If you have not listened much to Pearl Jam since TEN, then this self-titled CD is a great re-entry point.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2006
Pearl Jam, while being too earnest and hard-working to release a truly terrible album, hasn't put out a really great album out in some time (many would argue that either 'Vitalogy' or 'No Code' is their last strong effort, or even say that they peaked early with 'Ten' and 'Vs.'). Every album since the mid-90s has had some very strong material on it (like 'Light Years' from 'Binaural' or 'I Am Mine' from 'Riot Act'), but no real killers like the early singles from the first few albums.

Pearl Jam's self-titled release delivers the most straight-forward rock that they've put out in ten years. 'Life Wasted' starts off the disc with as much force and passion as 'Last Exit' does for 'Vitalogy', and 'World Wide Suicide' has given them the most radio exposure they've gotten since the 'Last Kiss' single quite a few years back. The politics are here, but aren't overwhelming and less polemic than they were on 'Riot Act' (check out Bu$hleaguer). The band also manages to expand on their sound while managing to look back into the past. 'Come Back' adds a very slight element of R&B to their sound; very similar to 'Last Kiss' only in more of a crooning mode, where 'Parachutes' has a lilting, slightly "McCartneyesque" feel to it with gentle off-beat acoustic guitars and a touch of keyboards. The 'Wasted Reprise' would stylistically fit in with the artsier parts of 'Riot Act'; whereas 'World Wide Suicide' and 'Comatose' go straight for the gut, sounding more like the rockers from 'Vitalogy' or 'Vs.' than anything else from the Pearl Jam catalogue.

This record should satisfy most who were looking for a good solid rock album from the group, and should even satisfy the minority of people who prefer the group's more stylistically broad latter albums. This is as close to an honest 5-star album that the band has gotten in a long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2006
Pearl Jam are back with their first album of original material in nearly four years with their eighth release, simply titled "Pearl Jam" (2006).

While fans are divided on Pearl Jam's catalogue, I've liked pretty much everything that the band has released. While I am in all honestly more partial to the band's early albums, I felt that the band's more obscure work like the world-beat sounding "No Code," (1996) and the arty-experimental "Binaural" (2000) were fine albums. And while the later-day Pearl Jam albums certainly have the ear of the hard-core fans, the general public, with the attention-span of a fruit fly, has been rather indifferent. "Pearl Jam" is an album that is sure to please hard-core fans as well as causal ones that gave up on the band along the way.

With the exception of the straight-forward "Yield" (1998) "Pearl Jam" is probably the band's most assessable work since their sophomore album "Vs." (1993). "Pearl Jam" can best be described as a cross between "Vs." and "Yield." It has the ferociousness and energy of the former, but the refinement and straightforwardness of the latter. "Pearl Jam" is easy to digest after one sitting and is instantly assessable, but it also throws the listener a few curve-balls and can be more greatly appreciated with repeated listens.

Fans of guitar rock, yearning for the days of when solos were front-and-center, will be well pleased with "Pearl Jam" as guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready deliver. Jeff Ament (bass) and Matt Cameron (drums) provide an exciting, dynamic, and sometimes unexpected rhythm section. Eddie Vedder's lyrics and delivery are as impassioned and thoughtful as ever.

The opening "Life Wasted" rocks hard and sounds somewhat akin to "Go," the opening song from "Vs." The gritty anti-war anthem "World Wide Suicide" vents the frustration of the futility of war, without sounding preachy or simplistic. "Comatose" is derivative of "Spin the Back Circle" (from 1994's "Vitalogy") but is still captivating. The psychedelic backwards into of "Severed Hand" is unexpected, adding to its effectiveness, before heading into the loose, mid-tempo body. The melodic, relaxed "Marker in the Sand" is probably one of the album's more commercial songs and wouldn't be a bad choice to use as a single. The light-as-a-feather lullaby-like "Parachutes" comes out of left-field and offers a nice change of pace. The light organ adds a really nice touch. "Unemployable" an ode to financial and employment woes is probably the album's strongest cut, with its infectious sing-along verse and lush backing vocals in its chorus. "Big Wave" is a short-but-sweet hard-rocker with awesome dueling solos. The morose, reflective "Gone" sounds like a cross between "Release" (from 1991's "Ten") and "In Hiding" (from "Yield"). The utterly somber "Wasted (reprise)," with its underlying organ, offers an entirely different take on the album's opening track "Life Wasted." "Army Reserve" is another anti-war anthem, from the point-of-view of a wife/mother having to deal with the anxiety of having her husband go to war. Much like "World Wide Suicide," "Army Reserve" doesn't try to give simplistic answers or preach, but rather it attempts to emphasize with the people that war affects. The gentle and solemn "Come Back" is one of the band's most personal and reflective songs. The dueling solos and Eddie Vedder's soft-spoken but impassioned hums toward the end provide some of the album's highlights. "Inside Job" is truly epic and elegant. While it starts off calm and delicate, acoustically with subtle intertwining piano, it soon flourishes into an all-out rocker. The light piano/organ outro adds a nice touch.

Pearl Jam fans are sure to love "Pearl Jam," as it is another fine offering from the band. Casual fans, and those that mostly liked the band's early work should also check out "Pearl Jam," as it eschews many of the more ambitious and arty trimmings of the last few albums. "Pearl Jam" is a lean, muscular, rocking album. Even with the year not quite at its half-way point as of this writing, "Pearl Jam" is sure to be one of the best albums of 2006.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2006
Pearl Jam has been around for over 15 years. That statement makes me feel a bit old, so I can only imagine how old it makes the band feel. Back in the early nineties, Pearl Jam was on top of the emerging grunge scene and even surpassed Nirvana as one of the biggest bands in the world. Since 1994's "Vitalogy," however, Pearl Jam has had a hard time reclaiming the rock world that they ruled. Through a string of relatively well-received, yet financial disappointing, albums, Pearl Jam has pushed on, continuing to evolve in the process.

The release of Pearl Jam's self-titled album marks the band's seventh major studio-release in 15 years. Typically, a self-titled album is usually a statement about how the artist perceives themselves. With "Pearl Jam," the band is clearly making a statement, saying, "This is who we are. Like it or leave it." However, Pearl Jam dows much more than make this brazen statement. They back it up with a truly refreshing addition to both their catalog and the mainstream rock scene.

"Pearl Jam" begins with the song "Life Wasted," the band's triumphal re-entry into the CD players and iPod's across the world as Eddie Vedder sings, "I've tasted a life wasted. I'm never going back again." It is a good starting point for the album and one of the best Pearl Jam tracks to date. Transitioning from blazing guitar solos and Eddie Vedder's (trademarked) almost-drunken shrieks to half-time soft-rock balladry is no easy feat to pull off, but the band does it amazingly and capture the true versatility in their music. The remainder of the album can best be described as "unpredictable," featuring a wide assortment of songs and influences that only goes to further the notion that Pearl Jam is a band worth indulging in for hours and days on end.

What the band accomplishes with this album is more than creating a 13-song revival of sorts. On the contrary, Pearl Jam has proven that in the flimsy, here-today-gone-tomorrow world of nineties rock, at least one band has proven they are more than an early nineties genre-fit.

Pearl Jam has risen from the ashes of grunge-rock and put their heart and soul into one of the best albums to come out so far in 2006.

Though ecclectic at times, one cannot simply dismiss the raw talent and raw emotion that went into the making of this album. Granted, it may not be Pearl Jam's best, but it's definitely towards the top of the list. There are a handful of tracks on this album that could easily be argued as some of the band's most impressive, and that is definitely an accomplishment. At more than 15 years into their career, Pearl Jam has proven that they still have a lot to say and a lot more songs in store for us...if we are lucky.

Key Tracks:

1. "Life Wasted"

2. "World Wide Suicide"

3. "Comatose"

4. "Severed Hand"

5. "Come Back"

4 out of 5 Stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
Pearl Jam never went away!! As other reviewers have noted, every Pearl Jam release has something to offer anyone...I can't imagine my music collection without Pearl Jam--it's that simple. If you enjoy any kind of introspective, meaningful music in any way...I suggest getting into Pearl Jam. Ed Vedder is one of the greatest song writers ever--arguably the greatest in the last 16 years or so. This record is no exception..not as much of a 'challenge' to get into as some of their previous efforts (which means mainstreamers may enjoy this and/or bandwagoners will be jumping back on. The end result is, unfortunately, they won't be "my band" anymore--Pearl jam fans, you all know what I mean...)but this is definitely worth the money. What I love about Pearl Jam the most is that they never get boring or repetitive. They are always re-inventing themselves and growing musically, lyrically, and artistically. I'm not going to get into a song-by-song breakdown, enough reviewers have done a great job of that already. Is this record good? Yes. Is it their best in 10 years? Who cares, how can you truly judge an artform? Pearl Jam fans can't even agree on which album is the best, and why would you want to? It's music--it's an artform--Art is expression and creativity. Art is Pearl Jam. If you have any sense or depth at all to your person, and if you take the time to not only listen, but hear Pearl Jam, you will be a fan for life... At the very least, listen to this record... and go see them live before you die...
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