What Year is It?
Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains are releasing albums in the same month. If it weren’t for the sound of Pearl Jam’s Backspacer, I could be fooled into thinking it’s 1993. This ain’t the Pearl Jam of my teens. Nor does Backspacer sound quite like any other recent rock albums I have heard. There are a lot of moving parts, and they artfully shift from blending with each other to asserting themselves. The overall effect is a fantastically textured record. DJ says it’s their best work since Yield, and he’s the kind of guy who knows about these things.
The new Alice in Chains album, Black Gives Way to Blue is streaming for free until its commercial release. I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but I did get the single Check My Brain on iTunes. Jerry Cantrell has a fantastic, if narrow, sense of harmony, and this song picks up where the band left off when Layne Staley died. The song is built off of a riff I can best describe as a hellish drone. I love it, but it doesn’t represent much of a departure from Cantrell’s earlier stuff. As for New Guy’s vocals, they’re really good, but again – it’s a little too similar to the old sound for me to totally freak out. Because I really like Alice in Chains – and their work has held up well over the years – I am looking forward to hearing the whole record, but my expectations are not too high.