Pearl Jam: Punks in Disguise
Because of their classic rock reputation, jamming with Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, Pearl Jam's punk roots are often overlooked. It doesn't help that they paved the way for the last two decades of mainstream rock acts like Stone Temple Pilots and Creed. But only Nirvana made faster, screechier tunes when their voltage was switched on; Pearl Jam have counted Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks and Sleater-Kinney among their many touring mates, a fact not obscured by the sound of such headlong ravers as "Lukin" or "Whipping." Their covers of Young's piss-take "F*ckin Up," PiL's deconstructive "Public Image" and the Dead Boys classic "Sonic Reducer" prove their aptitude at boosting others' garage noise to an arena scale. Meanwhile, Eddie Vedder's horrific screams on the claustrophobic funk of "Blood" or the inverted riffage of "Comatose" can be as hair-raising as any post-hardcore bellower. Even on the ballad-heavy new album, Lightning Bolt, they still feel a need to light a fire under themselves -- see the frayed-wire "Mind Your Manners."