It's fitting that Pearl Jam announced an October 15 release date for its 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt, today — the same day that fellow Seattle rock 'n' roll lifers Mudhoney are playing on top of the Space Needle. (Happy birthday, Sub Pop!) That's how we roll in my hometown. Growing older is just an occasion to tighten up your game of living large.
For Pearl Jam, that's meant getting leaner and more efficiently intense, and Lightning Bolt, produced by PJ regular Brendan O'Brien and coming out on the band's own Monkeywrench label, promises more of that fierce focus. "Mind Your Manners," the first single, comes on with a neat riff that's equal parts Bad Brains and "Born To Be Wild." Mike McCready's rapidly coiling guitar solo is a highlight, complemented by some nutso slide from Stone Gossard. Eddie Vedder sounds calmly furious spitting out grown-up protest lyrics that question spiritual hypocrisy while admitting that life's mysteries remain unsolvable. Good stuff. From the sound of it, I'm expect a record release party at the summit of Mount Rainier!