25-6-00, Parkbuhne Wuhlheide, Berlin Germany

Two years ago, Pearl Jam put out a live album. Typical live album - slightly different takes on mostly well-known songs. Some spontaneity, but also a little bit of studio tinkering so things didn't sound too rough.

Flash forward to the present: a single release of two dozen live albums, barely (but professionally) mixed and released with two discs each containing the entire performance from an individual concert on the band's summer 2000 European tour (ergo the sexy album title, which is simply the date and the stadium location for this concert). Raw cardboard with minimal printing on the package. Oh, and a lower price than the average two discs with more than two hours of music.

But how's it sound? Well, you do feel like you're there. Lead singer Eddie Vedder kids with the audience about Seattle weather, and the amounts of beer and coffee needed to overcome bad days. It's not classic wit, and would simply be too of-the-moment to land on a traditional live album, but it's part of the audience connection that makes Pearl Jam one of the few outfits that could pull off a stunt like this. The regular (and eventually, redundant) choppiness of the guitar tones over 31 tracks is made up for by an unfiltered glimpse of rock stars being craftsmen in a lively art. This is exactly the experience that buyers of bootleg live albums get, and Pearl Jam has succeeded in their apparent intent to legitimize this long-standing part of modern rock.

Hits are mixed with obscurities (and a few wild cover selections) over the course of each of the many albums, so it's probably a good time investment to check out the songlists on a music website before deciding which of these to purchase. -T.E. Lyons

White Out

Band gets signed to a major label. Band releases one or two albums that go unnoticed. Band is dropped from the label and ends up in debt. Verbow is trying to break that trend with their refreshing new album.

Verbow's second album is titled White Out, which is quite appropriate considering that it succeeds at wiping out all those preconceived notions about modern rock. White Out is a perfect example of a band trying to bring integrity and originality into a decadent music scene. Complete with earnest vocals and the beautiful strains of a cello, Verbow is a band that seems real as opposed to something fake and prepackaged by record executives.

Legendary producer Brad Wood played a huge role on this album, including producing, performing and co-writing some songs. Wood produced the early Sunny Day Real Estate records that created the genre of rock known as emo-core. This time around, Wood made sure to record Verbow lead singer Jason Narducy's vocals much higher than he did Jeremy Enigk's back on the SDRE albums. It pays off because Narducy is one of those rare voices in rock that breathes originality.

Ultimately, from the album's electrifying first half to its more solemn, acoustic-based second half, Verbow never falters on its trip to create the perfect countryside drive music. "I'll Never Live By My Father's Dreams" is the quintessential anthem for those people getting ready to graduate from college. Much like the rest of the album, it's all about getting on the open road and following your dreams. -Chas J. Hartman

En Myndseye
Independent Release

Negativity isn't necessarily a bad thing. En Myndseye, the debut release from Lexington's Lyrics Vice is a case in point. This is a disc chock-full of dark imagery. And the darkness which is the overall central theme here is well-matched to the brooding, haunting vocals of lead vocalist Greg Lynd.

Musically, Lyrics Vice definitely fall into the "heavy" genre. It is not a brutal heavy, a la Pantera, but more of a melodic, precise heavy. Obviously, these guys have listened to quite a bit of Alice In Chains over the years, but a bevy of other influences are apparent as well. Metallica, U2, and Iron Maiden come immediately to mind.

"Empty Bottle" presents a chilling glimpse into the mindset of an alcoholic. Lyrics such as "He picks himself up from the wet paper bag/and he hopes there's nothing wrong with his kids today" paint a vivid, if grim, portrait. "Into Grace" presents an equally strong portrait of a failed relationship. And while Matt Page's guitar work is very good throughout, on this particular track it is nothing short of stunning.

With the word "Lyrics" in the very name of the band, it is appropriate that one of Lyrics Vice's strong points is their lyrics. As the sole lyricist in the band, Greg Lynd could effectively pursue a career in poetry. His writing is that good.

As Lexington continues to churn out quality hard rock/metal bands at a surprising rate, En Myndseye should help to establish for Lyrics Vice a solid foothold in Lexington's hard rock community. -Matt Dacey