If you watched the premiere of Conan on the Tonight Show, you'd have to agree that it was a pretty restrained show. The LA jokes, the Universal tour skit, the Will Ferrel interview were all a little...... meh. But I fought off the sleep along the way knowing that Pearl Jam would be premiering a new song from their new album. Back in 06, I was floored when they debuted "Severed Hand" from their self-titled album (the one all the critics loved to call "eponymous"). Eventually, the enthusiasm for the album faded (only 2 quality songs), but I'm still excited for their latest effort.
I called together the braintrust to grapple with the big questions that result from this story. I'll be adding in the answers as they come in.
1. Thoughts on the band's new album title, which for right now is "Backspacer."
Dave: "Backspacer, though not terrible, probably their worst album title, not evocative of anything (except computers). It's a shame because they usually have solid titles."
Herb: "My first reaction was pure hatred. What a horrible album title. Then, when I found out that they named it after a turtle that they sponsored in a race, I hated it even more."
Doob: "I don’t care about the turtle. I care that Pearl Jam usually designs their album concepts around hope, change, identification of problems, and progress—is this supposed to be a nod to erasing Bush administration injustices in favor of Obama Motors? Their agenda and careless album titles put me off more and more, but yet somehow the material continues to consistently rock.”
Andy: "I agree that "Backspacer" is not great, but certainly not terrible. A more thought-provoking name than their self-titled last album."
2. Since they are releasing their album exclusively through Target, people are accusing them of selling out (they have historically been "against the man.").
Dave: "The Target thing doesn't bother me because they're doing it without the big record company. The album has to get out there somehow, and Target can make it cheap for fans, and it's not as gay as WalMart. If they haven't already sold out when they pushed to have 11 songs show up on the season finale of Cold Case, man it ain't never gonna happen."
Herb: "I don't care whatsoever. Good for them. Hopefully the Target commercial, directed by fattie Cameron Crowe, won't suck or be annoying like iPod commercials with Bono."
Doob: "It bothers me that they consider this a shrewd marketing move, because they don’t need to partner with anyone—they’ve become autonomous of the record industry because of their grassroots, dedicated fan base. The commercial will be cheesy, and they’ll never top this and the chills we all got in 1998 (Big comeback after the dud sparkler that was No Code). Everyone will get it on Pirate Bay or iTunes anyway; I only buy my DVDs at Target. And I guess we should all look at it this way—at least they didn’t partner with Wal-Mart and buddy up with Taylor Swift and AC/DC.”
Andy: "The Target thing doesn't bother me one bit. CD sales are way down and you have to market your product the best way you see fit."
3. The song they unleashed on Conan was supposedly titled "Get Some." Video is below.
Dave: "Two thumbs up so far. Much better than World Wide Suicide. Had to be political I guess, but it's all white noise from them by now. They still look good for mid 40's. Eddie should change his name to Eddie Fatter. "
Herb: "It aggravates me that songs like the latest Green Day radio hit just regurgitate the same hook over and over and over again, and everyone loves it. To me, "Get Some" is equally as catchy, but layered with cool effects and felt like a real rock song (not musically retarded like "Do You Know Your Enemy"). Next time Eddie needs to turn up the mike because you can't understand any of his (probably political) lyrics. Lay off the wine, Ed.
Doob: “’Get Some’ > ‘Get Right.’ There’s still heat coming off the engine, and that’s reassuring for a band that will see 20 years together next year. What hooks me so much about the new single is a rare dichotomy: they’ve pulled from classic influences—hints of The Police, hints of Devo—and yet have pulled off an end result die-hards have been waiting for for years: nobody sounds like Pearl Jam anymore. The clones have all followed Green Day down the rabbit hole, and Pearl Jam’s the king of the mountain. I really don’t think this will be the last great single for them, either."
Andy: "I wasn't real crazy about "Get Some." I will give it some time as this was only the first listen, but I definitely prefer "World Wide Suicide" over it. This will probably be like every album since "Vitalogy." 2-3 good to great songs and the rest are sub-par. Albums that will quickly be forgotten.
1991-1995 Pearl Jam - Brett Favre in the mid-90s - A future hall-of-famer always in the playoffs playing for Super Bowls.
1995 - present Pearl Jam - Brett Favre in the late 90s and beyond - An over-the-hill qb, in which the "better days" are certainly in the past. Perhaps it's time to retire."