Research and surveys say that glossophobia, more commonly known as the fear of public speaking, ranks as the #1 phobia ahead of death, spiders, heights and dozens of other common fears. The researchers obviously havent polled a lot of musicians because nothing strikes fear in the heart of a practicing guitar player more than jumping up on the stage and performing at their local blues jam. A quick Google will reveal hundreds of books, courses and seminars for conquering the fear of public speaking but youll find very little that prepares you or helps you overcome the fear of participating in a public blues jam. And thats precisely why we asked Jeff Scheetz to research and author The Blues Jam Survival Guide for TrueFire members and students.
A strange phenomenon with anthemic hard rock bands is that when they begin to mature and branch out into new musical genres, they nearly always choose to embrace both the music and spirituality of the East and India, and Pearl Jam is no exception. Throughout No Code, Eddie Vedder expounds on his moral and spiritual dilemmas; where on previous albums his rage was virtually all-consuming, it is clear on No Code that he has embraced an unspecified religion as a way to ease his troubles. Fortunately, that has coincided with an expansion of the group's musical palette. From the subtle, winding opener, "Sometimes," and the near-prayer of the single, "Who You Are," the band reaches into new territory, working with droning, mantra-like riffs and vocals, layered exotic percussion, and a newfound subtlety. Of course, they haven't left behind hard rock, but like any Pearl Jam record, the heart of No Code doesn't lie in the harder songs, it lies in the slower numbers and the ballads, which give Vedder the best platform for his soul-searching: "Present Tense," "Off He Goes," "In My Tree," and "Around the Bend" equal the group's earlier masterpieces.