May 31, 2009

Pearl Jam’s got something new going on (but you can’t hear it)


I’ve reached my limit, and I’m breaking up with Pearl Jam.

Their New York City lawyers contacted me today, telling me to remove the fan-recorded file of a new song below, which was captured outside the venue door at a recent secret show. This is the third time during the lifespan of this blog that I have been contacted by Pearl Jam or their representatives to remove something from my site that they feel is objectionable — always a live fan recording of something we’re all stoked to hear, and always a post that has come from a place of earnest and enthusiastic fandom. Well, I’m tired of fandom.

Even more disturbing than the crackdown on the live recordings that Pearl Jam has long embraced is the fact that, according to multiple sources, the internet is being vigorously scoured of all forms of even TALK about this new song and the recording session that happened on Thursday. This post vanished, leaving only the Google cache to remember it. This girl deleted hers. Threads on the message board are vaporized. And holy mackerel, I just went to reference the Rolling Stone post and the entire thing from this morning has vanished. 404 error. File not found.

This type of suppression of information seems to be their chosen mode of operating as a band over the last few years, and it is leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not sure what has changed with them. I can’t defend them anymore. I also must say that as one of the few voices in the independent blogosphere that even seems to care about what Pearl Jam is doing with any urgency, their kindness and support for genuine fandom would be most consistent with what I always understood their punk-inspired ethos to be.

The new song is out there, the horse is through the gate, Elvis has left the building — and in 2009 it is futile to undo it. Seize the buzz, Pearl Jam. Acknowledge the fans that have stuck with you for over fifteen years. In ten hours everyone’s gonna have heard the new song on Conan anyways, if you perform it. The only people interested in the fan recording are the passionate uberfans who will follow everything you do anyways. I would stoke those fires if I were you, not run around trying to smother to death everyone who dares talk about it. So few of my generation care passionately about what you are doing these days, and think that you are relevant and potent.

I’m saddened to say it ain’t gonna be me anymore.


Pearl Jam took to the stage Thursday at Seattle’s famed Showbox to rock a brand new song, while Cameron Crowe (Cameron Crowe!) filmed it. Stealth audio from one of the extras sounds like this:

Something’s Going On – Pearl Jam
(we’re guessing on the title — could also be “The Fixer”)

Soaring, melodic, tightly-wound, and fiercely rocking — color me pleased. Read more details here. Now maybe we know what they will play tomorrow night on the Conan Tonight Show premiere!

October 21, 2006

Soundtrack goodness from a mountain house

I am sequestered for part of this weekend up in the lovely Northern California mountains near Sonora, so not much fanciness planned for this here bad boy. I do, however, need to announce the winner of the Marie-Antoinette soundtrack contest which ended yesterday.

It was a tough choice because all of your entries were passionate and wonderful and made me want to sit in a theater and watch films with all of you — just for the musical discussion value.

The suck-up who called me classy started things off on a nice foot, and I loved every person who mentioned Richard Linklater and Dazed & Confused (adored that film). I never knew that Linklater “created mixes for each of the characters in Dazed and Confused and sent them to the actors before production so they could get a feel for their character.”

I have not actually seen Vanilla Sky or Moonlight Mile, but now based on your descriptions I think I must. And I loved your variety of nuanced choices: Jon Brion, Ennio Morricone, Michael Mann, Peter Coquillard. All gave me something new to consider & appreciate.

The most mentioned person was Cameron Crowe, whom I wholeheartedly support: Tony K. said of Elizabethtown, “Cam painted a canvas with largely unknown acts proving how much incredible music there is out there that we are unaware of” (amen!), and another commenter noted, “I think he makes movies just so he can make a soundtrack.” Loved your waxing poetic on his movies because I absolutely feel the same way.

Quentin Tarantino (“Tarantino soundtracks have the feeling of an old mix-tape that a boy would make for a girl he was trying to get with“) and Martin Scorsese (“It’s one thing to play a catchy song over a scene or compile a hip soundtrack, but to actually take a popular song and use it to CHOREOGRAPH a scene as effectively as Marty does… well, it’s just genius“) were close runners-up in terms of frequency of mentions, which are surely warranted.

But for some reason I am going with Aikin as my winner with his interesting comment for the Trent Reznor produced Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Here was an entry out of left field that I had completely forgotten about, but remember loving for all the reasons he mentions. The songs wove a creepy and unsettling feeling with the use of pretty songs like Patsy Cline’s “Back In My Baby’s Arms” or Dylan, juxtaposed with plenty of NIN and Jane’s Addiction and even Dr. Dre.

Plus, aikin used the sentence, “There’re a lot of weenies in this fire,” when he started his discussion of this soundtrack’s greatness, which is a phrase we definitely do not use enough. So congrats to grand poobah winner Aikin for an interesting selection. I’ve emailed you to get a mailing address.

Thanks everyone for playing, and this contest was waaay too hard to judge. I could have chosen any of you as the winner. Whew.

March 22, 2006

The great Elizabethtown road trip

So I finally got around to watching Elizabethtown. I had been hearing about this ever since, oh, last August, all about how Ryan Adams had a bunch of music in it, blah, blah, blah. And then I remembered in a flash of glee that my Uncle Dave used to be the big impressive principal at E-Town High School (as those of us in-the-know call it), so I was doubly excited.

Turns out my anticipation was for no good reason. The movie is tolerable, its salvation largely being the soundtrack, and also because Cameron Crowe just *knows* how to make a movie. I mean, all the elements are there – adversity of mythic proportions, family illness, quirky relatives, and even a perky love interest who shows no end to the depth of her random comments and bed-a-bility. What’s not to like? Well, the low point for me in the movie = Susan Sarandon tap dancing. Well, most of it was really speedy tap-dancing because it was on fast forward. Holy Moses. Did I mention it was at a memorial service? There was some poignant sighing in the crowd, some tears for the exuberant display of LIFE in the face of DEATH — aaaaand we’re done. No.

While most of the movie was drivel, and even a little annoying (his sister in the film was unworthy of the name Heather because she bugged the crap out of me), the best part of the movie was absolutely the last 20 minutes where lead guy sets out on a roadtrip with many CD mixes made by aforementioned perky love interest girl to accompany his every vista and curve in the road. Also included with the CDs is a heavy-handed and, let’s face it, unrealistic handmade “roadmap”/scrapbook that I kept thinking she would have NO time to make, what with the rigors of flight attending, talking to lead guy on the phone at all hours of the night, painting her toenails, apparently knitting her own hats, and just generally being adorable (which is hard work, let me tell you).

But what this roadtrip was really about for me was the glimpse it offered into the always fascinating musical mind of Cameron Crowe, who undoubtedly is THE best soundtracker in the known world. One reviewer referred to it as “Crowe’s gold-standard back catalog tastes,” and that is exactly what he has. I want to be his friend so we can ride around in his car and listen to his iPod on random. That would be fun.

The best part about the last 20 minutes was not just hearing Crowe’s mixes and feeling the flow, but also seeing what images he chose to juxtapose alongside those songs. It tapped into my unfulfilled dormant desire to have an epic road trip with The Perfect Soundtrack to accompany all the amazing things I was seeing. Like I’ve said before, I wish my life had a soundtrack. This is pretty close. Here are a few gems I enjoyed, either played or mentioned in that poetic and sprawling segment:

That’s Life – James Brown
(first song of the journey – I love how it starts out with the trademark James Brown “Hey!” and then a little “Unh!” and a “One more for the road!“)

Don’t I Hold You – Wheat
(“Some music just needs air. Roll down your windows.”)

Words – Ryan Adams
(right after lead guy drives across the Mississippi and there is a mention of Jeff Buckley. Also notable is the use of ‘English Girls Approximately’ at the Farmer’s Market – I absolutely LOVE that song and was stoked to hear it in a movie)

Sugar Blue – Jeff Finlin
(singin’ about stuff like the “raven’s song that breaks the night” – lovely and rough-sounding)

Salvador Sanchez – Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon
(scrawled in the scrapbook list of songs, but I don’t think it was played in the movie itself?)

Now where are my car keys?

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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