This month sees the release of Pearl Jam’s actual tenth album, ‘Lightning Bolt’. Since ‘Ten’, the group’s sound has ebbed and flowed through mediocrity and decency, garage rock and new wave – not to mention lead singer Eddie Vedder’s 2011 release ‘Ukulele Songs’, a curious musical unification of Hawaii and Seattle. Recorded over two years, ‘Lightning Bolt’ sheds any vestiges of these bizarre experimentations and embraces back-to-basics, ‘Ten’-style PJ: a merging of energetic punk and surging classic rock, all smoothed over with some moments of placidity. ‘Sirens’ is a rock ballad that displays what we’ve come to recognise as Vedder-esque introspection, while the album’s last track ‘Future Days’ also finds the band at their most reflective, recalling Vedder’s ‘Into the Wild’ soundtrack album.
These gentler moments aside, ‘Lightning Bolt’ isn’t short on pure force. ‘Mind Your Manners’, the high-octane, riff-heavy second track, is the punk-splattered blueprint for a truly energetic album. Vedder literally roars through ‘Father and Son’, and the album’s namesake ‘Lightning Bolt’ is packed with power hooks and shredding guitar solos.
It all makes for a decent record, but not a remarkable one. The band have a history for ripping it all up and starting again, and a sporadic disdain for commercial success: they stopped making music videos after the success of ‘Ten’, and refused to perform at Ticketmaster venues in the ’90s, causing a huge decline in sales. But ‘Ten’ is exactly what we might expect from a twenty-first century Pearl Jam: all world-weary rock ’n’ roll and no teen spirit. Buy this album here
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The Blues Kitchen Camden
This lively, contemporary bar-diner on the main Camden drag celebrates American musical heritage in song (live shows, DJs, free harmonica lessons), spirits and sustenance. The food is all-American in spirit and substance, with barbecue and burgers featuring prominently. Though you can, if you insist, order a 'superfood salad.' There are around 50 bourbons in a variety of categories, some used as bases for cocktails. Rarer types (Blanton’s Gold, Sazerac 18-Year-Old Rye, Woodford Reserve 1838 Sweet Mash) go for a tenner or more, but otherwise you’ll be paying £3.50 to £6. ‘America’s native spirit’ is how Kentucky bourbon is described, with Ancient Age and Evan Williams typical examples; Tennessee, ‘the first cousin of Kentucky’, is honoured with a full suit of Jack Daniel’s labels.
Venue says: “Free birthday bubbly for parties booking in for drinks at Blues Kitchen Camden on Friday nights. Get in touch for more details.”