Pearl Jam

Over the Weekend (Nov. 24 Edition)

Some videos and other fun as you prepare for the big holiday this week…

This weekend marked the twentieth anniversary of Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy album, and there were retrospectives from both Billboard and Stereogum.  Both do a great job of talking about how the album was a turning point for the band, and how though it’s a respected effort, it’s still underrated.  I was inspired by these pieces to listen to the remastered version of the album that was released a couple of years ago, and it adds a whole new level to the record.

Our favorite new music video comes courtesy of hometown heroes Red Fang, which should be no surprise, considering their track record of great videos.  This time for “Crows In Swine” they prove that their brilliance extends even into the realm of animation.

We previously shared the lyric video for the new song from The Decemberists, and now we can link to the official music video for “Make You Better”.  It features Nick Offerman guest-starring as the host of a lost television show from the 70’s, with The Decemberists providing a goofy performance.

Rolling Stone has been publishing a ton of Foo Fighters-related material, and one of the coolest pieces they’ve done is a list of various cameos that Dave Grohl has done for various albums and performances.

Last week Sebadoh stopped by the AV Club for their Undercover series, and they performed Rush’s “Limelight”.  Personally, I feel that the band balances between taking it seriously and having fun with it, but half of my enjoyment may have been due to the various Rush fans in the comments getting offended by Lou Barlow’s ridiculous vocals.

TV on the Radio hit the Late Show with David Letterman last week to perform “Happy Idiot”, and it’s obvious that as the band hits the road in support of Seeds this is going to be a definite highlight of their set.

Speaking of late night performances, Cold War Kids went on Conan to play “All This Could Be Yours” and delivered a passionate performance of their latest single.

Before there was The Shins there was Flake Music, and Sub Pop is reissuing the only record of the predecessor band.  NPR has it up for streaming for your pleasure.  Elsewhere on their site, be sure to check out this video talking about the special way in which musicians’ brains work.

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Over the Weekend (Oct. 27 Edition)

News and new videos that have nothing to do with Halloween…

It’s always worth checking out the music videos that OK Go produces, and today’s release of “I Won’t Let You Down” is no exception.  Check out the band as they construct an elaborate routine with the help of a few (hundred) friends.

This weekend was the annual Bridge School Benefit, and I’m sure additional videos will be trickling out over the next few days, but so far there have been two featuring Pearl Jam that are definitely worth viewing.  First, there’s the band hanging out with “Uncle Neil” as they perform “Throw Your Hatred Down”, a track from the Pearl Jam-backed Neil Young album Mirror Ball.

Then there was the Temple of the Dog “reunion” as Chris Cornell joined in to sing “Hunger Strike”:

Speaking of Chris Cornell, his regular gig Soundgarden today released a brand new song, “Storm”, which you can stream here.  It’s got a nice, dark groove driven by Ben Shepherd’s bass, and might be deemed a spookier cousin to “Superunknown”.  It will appear on the band’s upcoming rarities compilation, Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path, whose tracklist can be viewed here.  The three disc set is scheduled to be released on November 24.

Wayne Coyne talks to NPR about the upcoming With A Little Help From My Fwends, the Sgt. Pepper cover album that The Flaming Lips recorded with several of their colleagues, ranging from J Mascis and Maynard James Keenan to Dr. Dog and My Morning Jacket to Tegan & Sara and Miley Cyrus.

My Morning Jacket also announced today a charity single cover of Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land Is Your Land”, which is now available on iTunes.

Finally, Wilco is set to perform three songs this evening on The Tonight Show (though not all of them will probably be broadcast), featuring tracks from their upcoming rarities compilation.  In addition, Herbie Hancock will be sitting in with The Roots, so tonight might be the time to try to stomach Jimmy Fallon.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 24 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as you keep pushing “repeat” on the new Run the Jewels album…

Last night, Run the Jewels surprised its fans with the release of their new album as a free download.  I’ve enjoyed it on the first two listens so far, but for the next one I’ll be sure to read Stereogum’s cover story interview with El-P and Killer Mike.  Meanwhile, we eagerly anticipate the release of Meow the Jewels.

Speaking of Stereogum, they have an interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway to discuss his second solo album.  Selway’s contributions to his main gig are sorely underrated, and his solo work is definitely worth checking out.

Josh Modell does an excellent job of capturing the essence of what makes the Pearl Jam live experience so special, and does so in a way that those committed to bashing the band should understand.  Considering the way The AV Club usually handles Pearl Jam, this is pretty great accomplishment.

In our commitment to continue providing you with every Death From Above 1979 story out there, here’s their feature in The Line of Best Fit.

Pitchfork catches up with Panda Bear, as he announces a new EP and is set to release an album next year.

Sure, they made a movie about him earlier this year, but it’s probably worth the time to check out PASTE’s oral history of James Brown, courtesy of his bandmates, in preparation for the new HBO documentary Mr. Dynamite.

And finally, it’s not often we delve into sports, but fresh off his appearance on Conan this week, The Oregonian has a feature on Damian Lillard and the development of his #4BarFriday videos, as well as discussing rap’s place in his childhood.  It’s a piece that’s well worth reading.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 17 Edition)

Some #longreads as you try to figure out a Halloween costume…

It’s the 30th anniversary of The Replacements’ classic album Let It Be, and Consequence of Sound has an all-star roundtable of musicians and writers to discuss the legendary record.  While I personally disagree with the title of the piece (I prefer Tim, though it’s a close battle), I nevertheless agree with the general sentiment that this is an album that merits reflection.

We here at Rust Is Just Right are big fans of Pearl Jam, and it’s not only because of their music.  Over the years, we’ve read several stories that show just how great these guys are as people, and this one of a promise fulfilled to a fan 22 years later is a great example of how much the band appreciates their fans.  In addition, check out this tribute that the band did in remembrance of Ikey Owens.

In this piece for the AV Club, Sean O’Neal examines what makes the memorable riff from David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” so brilliant, and would be worth reading for the additional background information from Bowie linked to in the piece.  Elsewhere on the site, Noel Murray writer contributes to the “Primer” feature with a guide to The Beach Boys, an endeavor we fully support.

Mark Lanegan shows off a bit of his sense of humor in this fun interview with Diffuser, as he releases a new solo album once again.

Pitchfork talks to Dhani Harrison about the elusive qualities of his father’s guitar style, as well as other musicians who provide insight into the subtleties that made George’s guitar-playing so timeless.

And finally, if you’re desperate for a hate-read this weekend, there’s this New York Times piece where the online equivalent of the asshole at the record store who sneers at whatever you purchased bemoans what streaming has done in diminishing the effort to be an elitist douchebag.  However, I did enjoy the auto-generated Spotify playlist that was juxtaposed next to his rant.

Over the Weekend (Aug. 18 Edition)

Kicking off the week with a ton of new music and exciting news, as summer slowly morphs into fall…

It began with cryptic message from a giant blimp, but it’s official: Aphex Twin is releasing a new album.  Richard James most recently released music as AFX, (with the vinyl-only release of Analord, though a compilation of selected tracks was later sold as an Aphex Twin/AFX release on CD called  Chosen Lords), but even then it’s been a long time since we heard new music from him as those records were last released in 2006.  Syro will be the first Aphex Twin album since 2001’s Drukqs; no word on whether we’ll have any more creepy music videos, but the artwork announcing for the release seems to suggest as much.

Fans of the site should be well-aware of how excited we are for Death From Above 1979’s upcoming reunion, and a warm-up show brought us some additional material to help whet our appetite.  A fan has uploaded another track scheduled to appear from the new album The Physical World, courtesy of a free CD handed out to fans at the show.  “Government Trash” lives up to its name, as the song shows the harder-edged roots of the band, and is a perfect example of trashy punk.

Interpol today gave us another taste of El Pintor with the release of “Ancient Ways”.  It’s an uptempo track that shows that the band is really intent on piling up instruments on top of each other, similar to the style of Interpol, but with some of the edge of their earliest work.

KEXP has been uploading videos from a number of different groups that have stopped by their studios, and they’re definitely worth the time to watch all the way through.  So far I’ve watched Peter Matthew Bauer perform an excellent set with a full cast of backing musicians (which is sure to irk Rick Moody, since it contradicts his point) and Cloud Nothings rip through their latest, and I’m looking forward to checking out the Broken Bells and Wye Oak sets soon enough.

It’s always fun to hear bands talk shit about one another, and Kim Thayil provides quite a bit of it with these recent rips on Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins.

And finally, some sad news as Rick Parashar, a producer and engineer known for his work with the early years in the grunge scene in Seattle died a few days ago.  He helped out with Ten and the Temple of the Dog album among others, a contribution that which we all appreciate very much.

Catching Up On The Week (July 18 Edition)

Some #longreads as you kick back and sit by the pool this weekend…

This is the week of Weird Al Yankovic, everybody, as our foremost parodist delighted the internet with a new music video each day from his new album, Mandatory Fun.  You should be able to find tons of features on him this week, but I’m going to highlight this piece from Deadspin in particular.  AV Club has had a whole series of articles on him, including a quick interview where Weird Al answers 11 questions.  And SPIN has taken the opportunity to rank every music video Weird Al has done.

The New Pornographers are gearing up for the release of their new album, Brill Bruisers, and The Vancouver Sun talks with Carl Newman on how the band was able to record despite the fact that the various solo projects pull the band members every which way.  After reading that, be sure to enjoy the band’s take on mid-90’s BritPop one-shot videos with the Dan Bejar-sung “War on the East Coast”.

Pitchfork has a piece looking at the evolution of “futuristic” music over the past fifty years, and its commentary on society as we’ve progressed over the years.  We didn’t mention it before, but also check out this other Pitchfork article that looks the validity of various dubious musical theories.

Earlier this week, Eddie Vedder caught some flack for off-the-cuff remarks he made in-between songs at a Pearl Jam show, which is something that Pearl Jam fans should be used to by now.  However, Vedder’s remarks pleading for peace was taken to be anti-Israel by some because of current events, most notably the Jerusalem Post, despite the fact there was no specific party mentioned.  Eddie took the time to post a response, clarifying once again that he’s anti-war, and that should come as no surprise.

And sadly, Johnny Winter passed away earlier this week, and the AV Club pays its respects.  This comes on the heels of last week’s death of Tommy Ramone, which has prompted more remembrances, including this one from Henry Rollins, being published that comment on the lasting influence of the Ramones.

Over the Weekend (June 30 Edition)

Some videos and news as you begin your week thinking about how dumb Penalty Kicks are

Spoon played Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, with tracks from their upcoming album They Want My Soul.  We had previously heard “Rent I Pay”, but the band also debuted “Rainy Taxi” at the performance.  The first is a ragged, stilted rocker that Spoon has perfected over the years, but the second is a groovy, uptempo number that fits in some of the dissonant touches that the band does so well, and should be a live favorite.

Fans in Oslo were treated to a Pearl Jam rarity, as the band performed “Strangest Tribe” for the first time.  It’s a beautiful, somber song that can be found on the Lost Dogs compilation, and was originally released as one of the fanclub Christmas singles.  A hearty thanks to the fan that filmed this special occasion.

Speaking of Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder recently received an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (you know, the Oscars folks).  Maybe he’ll help clear up the mess that is the nominations process for the music categories.

Rolling Stone has Jack White’s entire Glastonbury set on its site, which included a quick cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” (a specific choice that the article has details about), and also a link to a previous performance with some choice covers including a take on The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.

And we didn’t get a chance to post this in our traditional Friday #longreads roundup, but here’s a link to an extended interview with Dennis Lyxzen, frontman of the legendary Refused and The (International) Noise Conspiracy, who is now working in a new band called INVSN.

Over the Weekend (June 23 Edition)

Some videos to help you get over that heartbreaking…tie against Portugal.

Interpol just released the video for “Anywhere” from their upcoming album El Pintor, and it’s a live version shot in an “amateur” style from one of their recent shows.  Musically, it sounds like one of their usual busier, uptempo numbers, but it should be enough to get the crowd pumped at future shows.

Courtesy of the Everybody Loves Our Town Tumblr, we have footage from a recent Pearl Jam show that has gone somewhat viral over the weekend.  As per their usual, Pearl Jam tagged the end of “Daughter” with their cover of “It’s OK” by Portland punks Dead Moon, but this time Eddie sang a bit of the Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” from Frozen.  Since I do not have any children, this is the first time I’ve actually heard the song, so I finally have an idea what everyone is referencing; Eddie seems to miss a couple of notes, but hey, it’s a live improv and he’s fitting it to the chord progression of a different song, so I won’t bust him too much.

We mentioned previously that Soundgarden did a special show where they played Superunknown in its entirety, and here’s the audio of that full show, with additional interviews from the band.

And finally, SPIN has a couple of videos worth checking out: one is footage of Real Estate performing a stripped-down set which includes a cover of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So”, and the other is a joke interview of TV on the Radio with SNL’s Vanessa Bayer.  If you go to the YouTube page of the latter, there should be links to other “Sound Advice” interviews.

Rust Is Just Right’s Best Albums of 2013

Today is April 15, and while the rest of the nation celebrates Tax Day, we here at Rust Is Just Right choose this occasion to release our Best Albums of the Year list.  To be technical, this is our first such list since the site was launched only a few months ago, but this is a practice that I’ve personally done for a few years now.  There are a few of reasons for this: 1) It allows some of the albums that are released at the end of the calendar year to get some recognition, since they usually get swallowed up in the attention of the flurry of year-end lists; 2) I get the chance to analyze other lists to pick up on albums that somehow escaped my attention during the course of the year; and 3) It provides a handy consumer guide for people to focus where to spend their tax refund.

The process that is used to determine this list is highly rigorous and hardly scientific.  That said, it is in the process of being patented and trademarked, so I can say that it’s not simply a look at my iTunes playcount for the year.  Actually, that is what it is exactly, but I’ll choose to believe in your good faith that you won’t steal The Process.  On to the list!

Note: Though the list is a Top 10, there are more albums than slots, because I don’t like breaking ties for the same play count.  If you’re really intent on focusing on only 10, I guess take the 10 highest performing albums from the list, but you really shouldn’t limit yourself like that if you can help it.

10). (6 plays) The Flaming Lips – The Terror!!! – Thr!!!erYeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito.

We already have a surprise courtesy of The Process, as I didn’t think that Mosquito would perform so well.  The first single “Sacrilege” had me really excited for the album, but there was no other song that really matched its heights.  It was a bit of a letdown after the great It’s Blitz!, so my response to it may be harsher than it should be.  The Terror on the other hand was a new high point for The Flaming Lips; with the band involved in so many projects and gimmicks, there were legitimate fears that the creative well may have been running a bit dry, but the Lips responded with an album that  showed that even after 30 years the band still has new directions to explore.  Long known for their happy outlook on life, the band channeled inner turmoil (Steve Drozd’s relapse, Wayne Coyne’s separation from his partner) and created a dark, disturbing album that often plays like an hour-long version of the horrifying “Frankie Teardrop”, incorporating new elements like krautrock influences and drum machines.  The only reason it’s not higher on the list is you really need to prepare yourself to handle the despair that is prevalent throughout the album (though there are moments of pure beauty).  With Th!!!er, !!! may have won Album Name of the Year, but they also back it up with some of the best songs of their career.  I’m a sucker for their dance-punk style, and I highly recommend seeing these guys live.  It’s fun to see a bunch of people who normally don’t dance groove to songs like “One Girl/One Boy”.

9). (7 plays) Foals – Holy FireThe Joy Formidable – Wolf’s LawLow – The Invisible WayNine Inch Nails – Hesitation MarksParquet Courts – Light Up GoldPearl Jam – Lightning BoltRun the Jewels – Run the Jewels.

Normally, I would say that Pearl Jam exists outside the scope of “lists”, but one cannot argue with The Process.  I haven’t delved deep into my love of the band since starting this site, so for those of you unfamiliar with my passion for the band, I’ll try to sum it up like this: I’ve been to hundreds of shows over the years, and when people ask me for my all-time greatest concerts, I tell them there’s a Pearl Jam list and a non-Pearl Jam list.

As for the others, I’ll offer a few quick thoughts.  Foals have been underrated for a while now, and by my calculations “My Number” should have been as big a summer hit as “Get Lucky”.  The Joy Formidable put on one of the best shows I saw last year, and I’m a big fan of how the sweetness of the vocals contrast with the heaviness of the music, but all done in a very melodic way.  There wasn’t a big hit like “Whirring” on this album, but “This Ladder Is Ours” should have been.  Nine Inch Nails returned with a very good comeback album–I loved the incorporation of more minimalist ideas, which made it an exceedingly interesting dance record.  And it’s amazing that Low once again produced an amazing album, and I hardly saw any mention of it on the year-end lists.  Invisible Way saw the band returning to the more delicate sounds pre-Drums and Guns, but it was definitely not a simple rehash.

Light Up Gold is a perfect example of reason number two up above, as I heard nothing about this album before I saw it on a few year-end lists.  This catchy and too-smart-for-probably-its-own-good soon became a go-to in my car stereo.  You have to love a band that makes the point that “Socrates died in the fucking gutter.”

As for Run The Jewels, I’ll say this: it’s hard to believe that one of the best albums of the year was given away for free earlier this year.  And it received a small fraction of the attention of Magna Carta Holy Grail.

8). (8 plays) Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right ActionKanye West – YeezusThe Thermals – Desperate Ground.

I was glad to see Franz Ferdinand return from hiatus alive and kicking.  After some experimentation with Tonight, the band decided to go back to their old sound and play to their own strengths–a lot of good, hook-filled rock songs (for the record, I was a fan of Tonight, but hey, I understand the calculus).  The Thermals made a similar return to their roots: after the reflective Personal Life, the band decided to keep the songs short and the tempos fast, with the furious Desperate Ground.

I’m sure Yeezus was the most analyzed album of the year, so my opinion shouldn’t add much to the conversation.  I think Lou Reed did an excellent job in explaining its genius, so you should probably take his word for it.  I will say that one of the things I enjoy most about Kanye records is that it always seems like we’re listening in on a therapy session, because he seems free to let his thoughts roam unfiltered.  I also love a person that embraces the dichotomy of the sacred and the profane; who else would follow a great line “close your eyes and let the word paint a thousand pictures” with “one good girl is worth a thousand bitches”?  The man knows exactly what he’s doing: “After all these long-ass verses, I’m tired, you’re tired.  Jesus wept.

7). (9 plays) The Men – New MoonSigur Rós – KveikurVampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the CityVolcano Choir – RepaveYuck – Glow & Behold.

We had an extensive piece already on Yuck, so we won’t rehash it here.  Volcano Choir is proof that Justin Vernon knows what he’s doing and that he doesn’t need the “Bon Iver” name to make great music.  The Men will continue to put great, solid rock albums from now until eternity it seems like; throwing in some classic rock and Americana touches like they did on New Moon just helps expand their sound.

Vampire Weekend got a lot of credit for their show of maturity on their third album, and a lot of it is deserved–Modern Vampires is an excellent rumination on love and faith.  That said, it wasn’t as great a leap as some critics made it out to be; I thought that Contra showed that the band was creative enough to find a way to connect their niche sound with other genres and still remain true to their identity.  So while this is a very good album, it’s not quite the “Album of the Year”.

I’m much more surprised about the latest album from Sigur Rós.  I found Valtari to be a real low point, an album that often struggled to find any semblance of creativity or inspiration, and it just seemed like an ambient mess.  So when the band released Kveikur so quickly after Valtari, I was pretty skeptical.  But holy shit, this sounds like a band reborn.  It’s a much more aggressive album, an adjective that is rarely associated with the band, and bears some (dare I say?) metal influences.

6). (10 plays) Cults – StaticSavages – Silence Yourself.

We had an extensive piece already on Cults, so we won’t rehash it here.  Savages end up with the highest-ranked debut on this chart, as I found their revival of post-punk thrilling, a brilliant mix of Joy Division and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

5). (11 plays) Arctic Monkeys – AMThe Besnard Lakes – Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO.

The instant I heard “Do I Wanna Know?”, I knew I would love this album; I just didn’t know that it would turn out to revive their career here in the States.  It’s a huge improvement over the good-but-unmemorable Suck It And See and the completely forgettable Humbug, and it wins my coveted award of “Night Driver of the Year”.

I’ve been a longtime fan of The Besnard Lakes, a band far more deserving of some of the plaudits that another Canadian band whose absence you may notice from this list.  If there were actual justice in this world, they’d be headlining arenas, but I’m glad I get to see them perform spellbinding sets in tiny venues like the Doug Fir.  I initially was not impressed with the new album, mainly because I had been hoping that they could use some of the huge hooks from Roaring Night and hopefully catapult into the mainstream; but once I accepted the album for what it was, I was able to appreciate the subtle melodies and beautiful atmosphere.

4). (12 plays) Deafheaven – SunbatherMy Bloody Valentine – m b v.

My Bloody Valentine shocked the world when they announced that they were immediately releasing their long-awaited follow-up to Loveless.  Servers were in a constant state of crashing as music buffs around the world rushed to download the album, but eventually we all got our copy.  Was it worth the over two-decade wait?  If you based it on trash like “Nothing Is”, then you would say no, but then you hear the gorgeous “Only Tomorrow” with its monumental guitar solo, and all is forgiven, because you are reminded that while there are thousands of bands that were inspired by them, there is truly only one My Bloody Valentine.

Sunbather might be the most surprising album on my list, because while there is a lot of heavy metal that I do enjoy, it’s usually not of the black metal variety.  However, Deafheaven uses the banshee wail-type vocals to their advantage, as they blend in with the walls of guitar.  If I had my preference, it wouldn’t be the style I choose, if only because it becomes hard to distinguish what are actually some pretty decent lyrics (an exchange like “‘I’m dying.’  ‘Is it blissful?’  ‘It’s like a dream.’  ‘I want to dream.'” read great on the page, but impossible to pick out when sung).  That said, the actual music is pretty goddamn brilliant.  I’m going to explore them in a future Feats of Strength, but I’ll say that the last half of “The Pecan Tree” was probably the best music I heard all year, but to understand its full brilliance you need to hear the 55 minutes of brutality that came before it.

3. (16 plays) Wavves – Afraid of Heights.

Wavves received the best press and sales of their career with King of the Beach, and to follow it up they release an album filled with cynicism and paranoia and plain old depression.  But they made it fun as hell.  I have to give a lot of respect who released a single that got actual radio airplay whose chorus is “Holding a gun to my head, so send me an angel; or bury me deeply instead, with demons to lean on”.  And they played it on Letterman.

2. (17 plays) Queens of the Stone Age – ...Like Clockwork.

This one of the best albums of QOTSA’s career, and that’s saying something since they’ve released several classic albums already.  It’s a brilliant mix of their desert rock with gothic horror.  It’s hard for me to think of much more to say than that, because I’m still bitter thinking how not one person on the AV Club staff gave this album a single vote.

1. (20 plays) The National – Trouble Will Find Me.

In the end, the list was topped off by what I would have predicted at the beginning of the year, but when I first listened to Trouble Will Find Me this was not a foregone conclusion.  But like other albums from The National before it, what initially sounded like a shapeless bore gradually revealed its subtle strength and beauty.  Melodies become more apparent, and dynamics become more evident; often it’s not drastic loud-soft contrast, but a gradual intensity that builds throughout in a song.  Each listen brings about a new favorite; first it was “Sea of Love”, then it was “Pink Rabbits” followed by “Don’t Swallow the Cap”.  Lately, it’s been “Graceless”, a powerful look at attempts to shake the melancholy stemming from a past relationship, filled with great lines like “God loves everybody–don’t remind me” and “all of my thoughts of you: bullets through rotten fruit.”  After a few listens, you notice things like the shift halfway between “graceless” and “grace” that occurs in the lyrics, and the gradual buildup of intensity in Matt Berninger’s voice as he powers through the song.  It’s perfect that an album that rewards multiple listens takes the top spot.