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 Post subject: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri December 28, 2012 4:01 pm 
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old thread archived here

listen to the album and share your thoughts

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:00 pm 
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Time for the first No Code of the new year

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:08 pm 
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Sometimes: Such a peaceful song. I'm not sure there is another song that just gently float along the way this one does. The music is good. The rumbling drums shortly before the second verse are nice--anticipating a slightly rockier journey that replaces the fire of Vitalogy with a steadfast refusal to get worked up at all.

Eddie has a slightly nasal quality to his vocals on much of No Code that I don't much care for. This might be the album with my least favorite vocals from him. It's present on Sometimes, and it probably hurts the song. This is one of those numbers like Sleight of Hand that I think is well executed and I respect, but I don't particularly ever care to listen to. I think this ranks at the bottom of the opener pile for me

Hail Hail: I still hate this transition. This is a monster riff I've really grown to appreciate over the years. I remember when No Code came out I was disappointed that this song didn't feel heavier--at least in the Vitalogy way. Jeff is really tight on this--he gives the song a fuzzy headache quality that fits the bewildered confusion in the song.

These are probably the best lyrics on No Code. I like the spiraling anti-solo running into and through the bridge. And the way the guitar slides up the solo into the final chorus is great. Lots of nice subtle interplay here.

I never really liked the lyrics in the outro. They felt a bit clumsy.

Nasal Ed keeps this one out of the 5 star range.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:17 pm 
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Who You Are: Hearing this as the single for the first time was the last time pearl jam had a real true WTF first listen moment until sirens. Learning to not take this song so seriously helped it immensely. Probably third or fourth favorite on the record. I know this is supposed to be a Jack Irons song, but I don't like his drumming on this one, for the most part. I think Jeff's bass and the guitars are what really make this song interesting. Jeff especially. Jack feels a bit sloppy and out of sync.

I love how this song drifts away for the last minute--especially the part Jeff is playing.

Inserting what will become my standard Ed's vocals comment.

In My Tree: I think I might put this in my top 3 most overrated songs in pearl jam's catalog--with the caveat that, unlike Sleight of Hand and Faithful, I do really like this one a lot. Like Who You Are, Jeff outshines Jack here, at least to these ears.

I prefer wave imagery to tree imagery, but Eddie gets it right here.

The guitars here are really good. I wish they didn't feel so muted. I understand why--they're meant to convey the distance that comes with height. But still, it's too bad.

There's no good reason at all this one isn't a live staple.

The bridge kinda irritates me in this one. I don't like knowing what's being sung.

These are such wonderful soaring lines. I wish Vitalogy Eddie was singing them. They kind of sound like they're being sung into his chest--it undermines the climax of the song a little bit. Basically if In My Tree sounded more like Corduroy it would be a 5 star song for me.

The creaking guitar sound during the outro is good.





It's really becoming clear on this lets actually listen that it's Eddie's vocals that keep this one in the bottom 3 for me. Or, if I already knew that, at least a reminder.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:27 pm 
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Smile: I try really hard to love Smile. I get its charm. But I usually don't like this much crunchy distortion in my music. and that's basically at the heart of this one. I wouldn't argue with someone who loves it. I get the appeal. But it's not for me. I think it's a good song, and very well executed/crafted. But it's not a great one. Not to these ears, anyway.

The pianos in the chorus are a really nice touch. And I really like the build after the final chorus back into the main riff/outro

They do a good job making a slightly disposable song seem important.

As usual, I wish Eddie sounded less nasally and soared a little bit louder. The way he sings and is mixed undermines the payoff in a lot of these songs. Basically I really want No Code to be Vitalogy. And the fact that it isn't is probably my biggest issue with this record.

Off He Goes: Love the music in this one. It's one of the warmest, richest songs they've written. The way Mike (I assume) colors it is really beautiful. But the stuff I don't like about Eddie's No Code singing is most prominent in this song, and I have always disliked the lyrics and the story. This is really the first time pearl jam felt self-indulgent to me.

I wish this outro was about a minute shorter.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:37 pm 
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Habit: This is a great riff. Up there with STBC as the most relentelssly heavy song in the catalog. But I really dislike Eddie's shrieking. It's okay during the verses cuz the lyrics are good, but the chorus is weak and screaming it over and over and over again does it no favors.

The way the guitars (or background vocals--I'm not sure which) follow Eddie when he sings the word habit during the loud parts create a pretty cool effect.

I wish Dave A was drumming on this one.

Oh man, this is such a great outro jam. One of their very best.

Red Mosquito These days i'd probably be more likely to listen to who you are or hail hail, but I'm pretty sure this is my favorite song on the album. The guitar interplay is wonderful (it's generally very strong and very smart on this album, something I don't give No Code enough credit for). The lyrics are great. The song soars. But it could soar even MORE if it got the Corduroy treatment. I wish the 'if I had known then' part was a bit louder in the mix. Again I understand why it's not, and maybe if I had my wish I'd regret it, but like the end of In My Tree it is a great climactic cathartic moment (anti-catharsis in this case) that Eddie undersells.

The same fuzziness that Smile has, but I feel like there's more going on in the song. It tempers it a bit--especially since it can contrast with the cleaner guitar in the verses.

This is probably the only song on the record where I think the Neil Young influence is a good thing.

This is another song that should be in MUCH heavier rotation than it is.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:42 pm 
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Lukin: I like the music for what it is--and the harmonic thing underneath the power chords is really cool. But Eddie's screaming doesn't appeal to me on this album, and it's a pretty major part of this song. The transition into Present Tense is also REALLY abrupt. Like the sometimes/hail hail transition I wish it wasn't so pronounced.


Present Tense: It's a pretty song, but not as pretty as i remember. Or maybe it's just less interesting. This is dangerously close to dropping out of the 4 star range for me. I think part of the problem is that it's a soundscape song that is meant to be a background for Eddie, and there's a bit too much high school/self help/chicken soup for the soul in these lyrics. This is exacerbated by my general issues with the delivery on this album.

I wish Eddie's second chorus sounded more like a waking epiphany and less like shouting from deep within a dream.

The can/cannot change in the two choruses is clever.

The outro is great. Red Mosquito, Who You Are, Habit, and Present Tense all have really strong finishes.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 5:59 pm 
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Mankind: I like this song more than I used to--both the music and the playfulness. I just really don't want to hear Stone sing on a pearl jam album. On the other hand, I don't know that Eddie could have sung a song like this back then (possibly not now, either). If this was a b-side, or was followed by some stronger songs. Listening to this I really quite like the wry humor in the music. I guess it's just Stone on a pearl jam Eddie.

Maybe I just need to stop fighting an 18 year dislike for this song that I simply no longer have.

Yeah, this is pretty good. Out of place, but pretty good.


I'm Open: Man, this is an overwrought song. Forget Leash. There's nothing that feels more like a relic of youth than this. The lyrics in the verses are actually pretty good in a melodramatic way. But I think they needed a subtler presentation than this. And the 'I'm Open....Come In...' parts of the song are a little hard to take seriously. This is one of those songs where if it wasn't pearl jam I'd roll my eyes at it. I probably still would. And there aren't many other moments in the catalog I'd say that about.


Around the Bend:
Kevin Davis' championing of this song got me to reconsider it, and while I don't ever seek this one out I have an appreciation for what it is in a way I didn't always. I will say this actually isn't a very good lullaby (having tried to use it as one) and I think Jack is pretty heavy handed in this song, especially given how little space there is for that in here. The piano is quite nice. Not a big fan of the anti-solo, and I'd like a different tone on the guitar.

I like how this song balances between a gentle lightness and a faintly encroaching darkness.




So I learned (or was reminded of) four things from this LAL

1. I think if I'm Open was gone the ending would be much stronger. Mankind and Around the Bend have their charms, but they feel anti climactic after present tense, and I'm Open diminishes them


2. I don't' care for Jack's drumming on this record

3. I wish the anthematic moments felt a little more like anthems. I understand why they don't and it makes sense, but I like it less as a result.

4. Eddie is the real let down on this album. Jeff, Mike, and Stone are all great. But Eddie's time with Neil Young really comes through in his vocals, and I don't think it suits him.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 6:10 pm 
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I've always been able to look past the lyrics to I'm Open and just appreciate the atmospherics of the song. Even back then the lyrics were hard to take seriously from Ed.

I loved how Ed brought it back out (albeit, a partial version) on his solo tour in 2008. It was a great lead in to Man Of The Hour.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 7:31 pm 
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I probably have some eighth-grade hangover of sorts working to my advantage, but I always thought there was a gentle beauty to "I'm Open" that managed to transcend the trite lyrics. The chant section has a swirling, psychedelic peacefulness to it (anchored by Brendan O'Brien's piano!) that kind of takes your breath away--almost like a kind of awakening, as if the sad bastard who is "alive, but feels absolutely nothing" finally and unexpectedly experiences a moment of simple joy that defies his capacity for expression. Maybe that part is supposed to be him dying.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 8:09 pm 
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I love I'm Open. It's a tender track, and it has an almost ethereal soundscape behind it. Perfect little experiment for a record that sounds a little like a lost document...like studio sessions for an album that never got made, by a band whose voices and amps are all but blown out.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 8:27 pm 
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McParadigm wrote:
I love I'm Open. It's a tender track, and it has an almost ethereal soundscape behind it. Perfect little experiment for a record that sounds a little like a lost document...like studio sessions for an album that never got made, by a band whose voices and amps are all but blown out.



That's actually a perfect description of this song.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 8:41 pm 
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This album is their masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned. I will Actually Listen this weekend.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Fri January 03, 2014 9:10 pm 
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I'm more inconsistent with where I place this album on PJ's best records list than any record they've ever made. Sometimes, I'm addicted to it, and it's probably in my top 3 and at other points it is my least favorite of the pre-S/T years. And I actually kind of like that it's never settled for me. Vitalogy, Yield, even Binaural, are well-worn, dependable great albums from this band for me to always put on, but there's something unsettling about No Code. Even though I've played it many times, it's the only PJ record (other than maybe Riot Act) that, for whatever reason, maintains an element of mystery to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Sat January 04, 2014 12:08 am 
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an excellent album, which i actually listened to within the last few months- which is more recently than any other pj album

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Sat January 04, 2014 12:09 am 
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i think this album is ed's best lyrical offering ever, aided in it's delivery by the stellar tempo control of jack irons

how differently would this album have been received if Habit were made the lead single? or Red Mosquito (deemed by ed as song x's 'little brother') ?


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Sat January 04, 2014 1:18 am 
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In terms of lyrics this is pretty middle of the pack for me. Certainly Vitalogy and Binaural are more impressive.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Sat January 04, 2014 3:47 am 
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My favorite one along with Vs.

Its like they are both the masterpieces along with those sides of the band....Vs, the more rock oriented side and No Code the weird indie side.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Sat January 04, 2014 4:12 am 
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VinylGuy wrote:
My favorite one along with Vs.

Me too.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: No Code
PostPosted: Sat January 04, 2014 4:18 am 
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no code strikes at eternal issues such as the human soul, pain, healing, and identity. listening to this album unfold, in the wake of the MTV Grunge rock drop off, and the rise of the pathetic hip hop/boy band lift off, ed's message never soundedso timeless and grounded.

binaural has some well-thought out offerings on the 2nd half of the album, but the first four songs on binaural might as well have been on backspacer or left in the vault. that said, the band did exceptionally well googling space pictures in order to convey the themes of expansiveness and immateriality, which while on weed, did serve to magnify the essence of the lyrical content of the second half of that album.

vitalogy is a squirrel-brained masterpiece end-to-end, but many of the themes are still fairly provincial; albeit fiercely delivered, and with great conviction.


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