So, I happened to listen to a classic rock station the other day, and what should come on amidst a hair-swinging block of songs by AC/DC and the Scorpions? Pearl Jam’s “Alive”. I couldn’t help myself from leaning into my rearviewmirror to see how many more of my hairs turned grey. Then again, it’s easy to dismiss, not to mention restrict, Pearl Jam as “one of those grunge groups from Seattle who wore a lot of flannel in the early ’90s.” Albums like Ten, Vs., and Vitalogy are beacons held up as shining lights of a bygone era where mainstream rock ‘n’ roll was somehow better, more real, and not as watered-down as what our senses consume today.
When Lightning Bolt surfaces next week, they’ll have released an equal number of studio albums in the ’00s as they did in the alternative-dominated ’90s. And while a number of them are bound to be overshadowed by their more beloved anthems a la “Even Flow”, “State of Love and Trust”, or “Go”, there’s a handful of newer tracks that deserve to be recognized as some of their best. As you’ll learn from this list, Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron are years and years and years away from retirement. So grab a glass of wine, roll up in a flannel blanket, and enjoy a trip back to the not-so-distant past.