Song Review: Pearl Jam- “Mind Your Manners”

When it comes to keeping things fresh and unexpected, Pearl Jam stand as experts.  The band has one of the most versatile catalogs of any band rooted in the Seattle grunge scene- ranging from the all-out furious (“Do the Evolution,” “Why Go”), to the beautifully melodic (“Just Breathe,” “Light Years”), to the emotionally powerful (“Black,” “Come Back.”)

Now, in wake of 2009’s smoothly-produced masterpiece, “Backspacer,” the band has called yet another audible- they have recorded a punk rock song.

Well…okay, “Mind Your Manners,” the band’s latest single, isn’t COMPLETELY a punk rock song, but it might as well be.  It’s fast, to the point, and plays like a backhand to the face.  Think “Spin the Black Circle” with a touch of Black Flag.

The song is like a 3 minute joyride in a hot-wired war vehicle – kicking into high gear with sputtering guitars and never stopping for air.

“Mind Your Manners” makes it clear that anything can happen on the forthcoming “Lightning Bolt.” Major Pearl Jam fans will immediately love the song.  Casual listeners might be a little confused at first, but will slowly conform to the track’s appeal.

Pearl Jam- “Mind Your Manners:”  4.5/5

Listen to “Mind Your Manners” Here:

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The Ten Best Songs from Green Day’s “Uno, Dos, and Tre” Trilogy.

Green Day is a band that has been admired since the early 1990’s.  Known for their snotty, sarcastic lyrics, hard hitting riffs, and machine gun drum fills, the post-punk trio have appealed to a large variety of listeners during their career.  However, a common complaint among fans is that the band has been unable to live up to its magnum opus, “Dookie,” since its release in 1994.

The debate over vintage and modern Green Day still rages on, but however you look at it, the band has never come close to overshadowing their impressive past until now;  “Uno, Dos, and Tre” the band’s recent trilogy of new albums, provide some of their best work in quite a while.

Here are what I believe to be the ten best tracks from the trilogy:

1. “Let Yourself Go”– Fast-paced, edgy, and at times, pretty humorous, “Let Yourself Go” is one of Green Day’s best singles in a long time.  The song deserves to be considered alongside the classics from “Dookie” and “Insomniac.”

2.  “X-Kid”“X-Kid” is a perfect radio single and one of the best moments of the trilogy.  The song includes the catchiest hooks of the entire “Tre” album.

3.  “Fuck Time”– Green Day play with pleasing, classic rock-style energy throughout “Fuck Time,” a song that swings on like a flaming pendulum.  “See You Tonight” may be “Dos’s” opening track, but “Fuck Time” is the real attention-grabber.

4.  “Nuclear Family”The initial indicator that vintage Green Day had made a partial comeback, Nuclear Family kicks the trilogy off in the best way possible:  with a memorable lead guitar riff and a furious drum performance from Tre Cool.

5.  “Oh Love”One of the most recognizable of Green Day’s newer songs, “Oh Love” swings the door shut on “Uno” with its choppy scratches and captivating guitar solo.

6“Kill the DJ”- “Kill the DJ” may be a little unconventional for a post-punk band like Green Day, but they nail it anyway, jamming in a style akin to the Strokes or Arctic Monkeys.

7“The Forgotten”– Yes, it is easy to question “The Forgotten’s” substance due to its inclusion in the “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” soundtrack, but, this notion aside, the song is a well-written, emotionally-charged ballad that finds Green Day channeling their inner Elton John.

8.  Carpe Diem– “Carpe Diem’s” opening chords sound all too familiar in Green Day’s catalog, but the song still manages to ring with an original tone.  The song continues to stoke the fire started by its predecessor tracks, “Nuclear Family” and “Stay the Night.”

9.  “Troublemaker”– Green Day chip away at “Troublemaker” in a controlled groove.  The song’s purposely ridiculous lyrics and well-placed “hey!” hooks make it a staple of “Uno.”

10.  “Stray Heart”– Despite opening with the exact same bass line as Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” “Stray Heart” quickly becomes its own song.  A distressed Billie Joe Armstrong sings of love and longing during the song’s chorus.

Wallflowers- “Glad All Over” Album Review

Too much of a good thing can occasionally turn into a bad thing; sometimes, it’s better to give things a break to renew interest.  Jakob Dylan knows this.  Dylan and his award-winning band, The Wallflowers, after impacting the charts with a plethora of successful singles and albums, took a much-needed break after 2005’s “Rebel Sweetheart.”

Now, seven years later, the Wallflowers have returned- and it almost seems like they never left.  “Glad All Over,” the band’s newest album, picks up right where “Rebel Sweetheart” left off.

“Hospital for Sinners” starts the album with an upbeat, gritty jam that shows off fresh energy.  “Misfits and Lovers” swoops right in behind with smooth, layered riffs that echo the brightest moments of “Three Marlenas” and “Bleeders.”  These two songs help set the uplifting mood of the album, which is effortlessly carried on by “First One in the Car” and the somber, piano-heavy ballad, “Love is a Country,” among others.  For the most part, the album holds up as full listening experience.

The Clash’s Mick Jones, an idol of Dylan’s, joins the band twice on the album; his guitar and vocal contributions blend surprisingly well with classic Wallflowers song structure- especially on “Reboot the Mission,” an inventive homage to Jones’s former band.

Dylan’s lyrics remain consistently great; they generate unique, emotional imagery that will be very hard to find anywhere else on most popular music charts.

Despite a tiny bit of dead space, “Glad All Over” is brilliant, progressive, and an absolute pleasure to listen to.

All in All:

Standout Tracks:  “Hospital for Sinners,” “Misfits and Lovers (ft. Mick Jones),” “First One in the Car,” “Reboot the Mission (ft. Mick Jones),” “Love is a Country,” “Constellation Blues”

The Wallflowers- “Glad All Over:” 4.5/5