Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eddie Vedder's "Ukelele Songs"

Legend has it that Eddie Vedder picked up his first ukelele while on a Hawaiian beer run about 15 years ago (1996). The Seattle Grunge rocker has always seemed to have a strong connection with "Surf Culture" - Be it Music for Our Mother Ocean (MOM 1-3), hanging out with Jack Johnson and Laird Hamilton, A Broken Melody surf-track, "Amongst the Waves" (Pearl Jam), or his efforts with the Kelly Slater Foundation. I have to admit, I almost always automatically think of either Tiny Tim or Steve Martin, when I hear "ukelele."
Ukelele Songs consists of a mix of originals and covers, some culled from sessions dating back to the mid-90's. Inter-spliced throughout the album's 16 tracks are covers of obscure 1920-30's hits, along with an alternate version of Pearl Jam's "Can't Keep." The track was originally featured on the band's 2002 album, Riot Act; A mix of Folk/Art Rock/Experimental music, the album housed fan favourites like "I Am Mine" and "Love Boat Captain."

At its heart, this new Vedder collection showcases duets with Cat Power and Irishman, Glen Hansard (The Frames/The Swell Season). Dedicated to his wife Jill McCormick and 2 daughters, Olivia/Harper Moon, Ukelele Songs is a very stripped down affair... At most, Vedder is accompanied by the cello stylings of Chris Worswick and other mild musical touches.
In addition to Ukelele Songs, Monkeywrench Records also released a Live Concert Film today (May 31st) - Water on the Road. Filmed @ a 2008 DC solo show, the DVD features performances of Pearl Jam, Into the Wild (2007), and [1 choice] Ukelele Songs tracks. Actually pulled from 2 August shows @ Warner Theatre, the performances were filmed/directed/compiled by Brendan Canty (Fugazi) and Christoph Green. Further album reviews and interviews with Eddie Vedder can be viewed over @ Billboard and NPR (Ann Powers), respectively. A separate NPR piece additionally showcases an EXCLUSIVE "First Listen: Ukelele Songs" album stream.

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