Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘Shame,’ Brad (1993)

If it’s possible to have an “underrated” member of Pearl Jam, then Stone Gossard is it. The unassuming guitarist’s riffs power many of my favorite PJ songs, and his yielding of primary songwriting duties in latter years has been to the group’s detriment. The guy can flat-out write licks.

So it’s no surprise his side project is full of them. “Shame” is a manifestation of his personality: intense, yet not being showy about it, with ingratiating grooves. Vocalist Shawn Smith (who has a little of that scratchy Andrew Wood in him) matches Gossard’s mood well—Brad doesn’t try too hard, but they never come off as disinterested, either. “Shame” sounds exactly like the escape from Pearl Jamania Gossard was looking for, particularly standout tracks “Buttercup” and “Screen.”

That’s not to say the album succeeds at every turn, though. Only the first seven of the disc’s 11 tracks are good; a couple of the last come close to awful. But “Shame,” as a whole, was still a worthwhile diversion—for Gossard and Pearl Jam fans.

Grade: B-

Favorite Track: “Buttercup”

Least Favorite Track: “Rockstar”

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