There are albums that introduce you to bands but then there are albums that define who they are to you. Today’s album came about at a time when I was in a bad relationship and in a time when I was really at my lowest. It really helped me get through that time and it has since remained one of my favorites of the band Everclear. Now only does it have a special personal meaning to me, it is also an album that really showcased the bands skill, showing the world that they were more than just another California rock band.
Why This Album?
I was introduced to Everclear by thier song ‘So Much For The Afterglow’ on CMJ New Music Monthly Volume 51 in November of 1997. It was one of my favorite songs on that compilation including a track by The Pietasters, Pat DiNizio and even the Krist Novoselic band Sweet 75. Once I hunted down the album, I was hooked and, just when I thought the band would not release anything new, they surprised me with a two part album nearly three years after Afterglow’s release.
Heavily influenced in style by the music of the 70’s, this is one that is fun to listen to, but if you really listen to it, it has levels beyond the fun. Each track stands alone on it’s own but when listened to in order, they form a work of art that is quite the impressive piece. Set up as a two part concept album release, Songs From An American Movie Volume One: Learning How To Smile, is as much an album as it is a story. It follows a young man as he learns about life, love and learning how to smile in the face of a difficult life. It is personal on so many levels not only to me but to the lead singer/songwriter Art Alexakis as it was inspired by his second divorce.
The album is possibly Everclear’s magnum opus, considering how well performed and produced each song is, it is an astonishing that this is only the band’s fourth release in so many years. Most bands spend decades to reach this strong of a release and it only took Everclear just short of one.
I could spend hours analyzing each song and telling you the merits of each sound and each lyric, but lets let you hear some of this for yourself. This is one of the best albums released in 2000 and remains a contender for one of the best of the decade.
While this is an album that was meant to listen to as a single piece, there are some highlights and these are, what I feel are the best.
Brown Eyed Girl. I loved the original growing up but there are occasions that a cover version improves on the original. This is one of those times.
Thrift Store Chair. A sad but powerful song about losing the closeness of another.
Ottis Redding: Remembering the good times, this one still resonates to this day.
Wonderful: I cant count the times in the best I have wanted things to be Wonderful Again. It happens to us all, wishing for things to better, and this song hits you right in the feels.
Ok, Where do I get it?
This one seems to be out of print now days but you can grab a cheap copy on Discogs. You can also listen to it on Spotify. Sadly, Part 2 is no where near as good as this album and it’s lack of sales nearly caused the band to end completely. Art kept it going and is still releasing music to this very day.
Late to the Game 8/6/2019
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