Monday, May 14, 2012

Nowhere Near The Best Of Everclear (There's A Better One!)

The Good: Good songs with decent lyrics and a good style.
The Bad: NOT all their best, ummm, not even close
The Basics: I could think of no better way to review this piece of crap than in the form of a satirical letter from the Capitol Marketing Department. Enjoy!

Dear Sucker (You fan of Everclear considering purchasing this album),

As a fan of the post-grunge rock and roll band Everclear, you have no doubt heard of our brand new compilation The Best Of Everclear, a ten-track c.d. featuring music recorded by Everclear from 1995 through 2000. As these are arguably the best years of the Everclear career, this is the most logical collection for any buyer to pick up. After all, the best material must have come from the best years of their career, right?

This ten-track gem clocks in at under forty minutes, but the true fans of Everclear will not mind the startling lack of material. Indeed, fans of Everclear will welcome the opportunity to support their band with this glorified mix-c.d. that features far less material than Ten Years Gone: The Best Of Everclear - 1994 – 2004 (reviewed here!). As that review so deftly notes, there are so many truly great Everclear songs that were never hits, like "Misery Whip," "You Make Me Feel Like A Whore," and "The Good Witch Of The North," all of which were from this seminal five years in the Everclear career. So, certainly, a "Best of Everclear B-Sides" would seem to be in order.

The Best Of Everclear is not that album, though. This is, instead, a brand new collection of songs that any true Everclear fan will already have as all the songs come from Everclear's albums: Sparkle and Fade, So Much For The Afterglow, and Songs From An American Movie Volumes 1 and 2. There is not a single track unique to this album, unlike Ten Years Gone where Everclear tried to push two new tracks - "The New Disease" and "The New York Times" (how stale can they be trying to peddle two new tracks that both begin with "The New!") - as part of the "Best" of Everclear! No, instead, The Best Of Everclear focuses on the truly greatest ten tracks in the history of this rock and roll band fronted by Art Alexakis in the late '90s.

After all, who could forget the giant hit Everclear had with its song "Sunflowers?" This song was so popular on "So Much For The Afterglow" that it did not need to be released as a single! And come on, how many times can you truly hear "I Will Buy You A New Life" on the radio without wishing you were listening to "Heartspark Dollarsign," which did almost as well on the charts? Everyone with a radio tuned to a rock station has heard "Wonderful" by now; they don't need that track again, which is why The Best Of Everclear has "Annabella's Song," which the true fans will clamor for more than that overplayed ditty that couldn't even break the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100! "Annabella's Song," a quaint little lullaby from Art Alexakis to his daughter, is certainly more indicative of the rock-image fans want to see from Everclear than, say, "Heroin Girl" which muddied up "Ten Years Gone."

No, The Best Of Everclear is certainly the way to go for the fan who wants a sanitized Everclear experience, making it the choice of overprotective parents who do not want their young ones to rock out to the music of Everclear anyway. This is not to say that the album was released without a broad audience in mind! Some stations have stopped playing "Santa Monica" over a decade after it hit #1 on the charts. For those still craving that hit, it is right up front on this compilation. After all, you can't have Everclear without its biggest hit! This album also includes their #1 from the Modern Rock charts, "Everything To Everyone."

The only other tracks that are on both Ten Years Gone and The Best Of Everclear are "Brown Eyed Girl" and "When It All Goes Wrong Again." The six tracks that are on this newer "Best of" album that were not on the twenty-one track Ten Years Gone might better reflect the diversity of sound Everclear is capable of producing as opposed to the commercially successful and often repetitive sound that defines the radio hits of the band. After all, how long can reviewers rib the band for the similar opening riffs on "Santa Monica" and "I Will Buy You A New Life?" This compilation eliminates that argument.

The Best Of Everclear, like "Ten Years Gone" and any Everclear album, features the adept lyrics of Art Alexakis and his bandmates. Unlike the depressing and angsty lyrics that define most Everclear songs, this compilation focuses on genuine emotions and the triumphs of commercialism instead of abandoned fathers and drug relapses. As a result, The Best Of Everclear hinges on tracks like "Heartspark Dollarsign," which is one of Everclear's better lesser-known singles. The poetics of Alexakis singing, "My mom said not to bring her around / 'Cause she's black / My family would put her down / I'll break the white-trash ties that bind / Trade a love so pure for a hate so blind . . . You're possessed with a power / Bigger than your pain" ("Heartspark Dollarsign") illustrate Alexakis - and Everclear's - strength at least as well as some of the commercially successful songs. The social conscience of the lyrics on The Best Of Everclear make it a worthwhile investment and do illustrate the wonderful lyrical talents of Alexakis.

But it's not just all social conscience that will sell The Best Of Everclear! The singsong genius of "One Hit Wonder" with its catchy refrain of "He knows if he ever even gets the chance / He'd sell his soul to make the monster dance / They can't hurt you unless you let them" is infectious and fun. That's the type of best-of album that will sell millions!

In addition to the wonderful lyrics of Everclear, which this compilation illustrates well, even though over seven years have passed since the last song on this album was first released, The Best Of Everclear includes a wonderful rock and roll sound that is distinctive. Art Alexakis does not yell on any of these tracks (no "Fire Maple Song" on THIS compilation!) and when he sings, he has a beautiful tenor voice. That voice and its ability to articulate well the lyrics Alexakis wrote are a key selling point of The Best Of Everclear. This is what fans tune in to hear.

Moreover, Alexakis is backed up by the musical talents of Greg Eklund and Craig Montoya - on drums and bass, respectively. This is the trio that was known the world round in the alternative rock scene and these ten songs illustrate their strength when working together. Montoya is a great bass player with the ability to play wonderfully hypnotic riffs, as he does on "Out Of My Depth" and Eklund is an able percussionist. This trio achieved its popularity and fame while at Capitol and the musical ability of the group ought not to be underestimated. These ten tracks sound great together.

We understand there might be naysayers or malcontents who are not enthusiastic about the release of The Best Of Everclear. Their arguments tend to focus on the fact that Capitol Records released this album well after the band had parted ways with the company. As the owners of all the music recorded while Everclear was with Capitol, Capitol has a responsibility to continue to distribute the genius songs of Everclear. Those fans who might reject this compilation ought to be advised to shut up and buy it, lest Capitol not invest its resources in finding the next Everclear. Without Capitol, Everclear might never have been so big and if fans of rock and roll want the label to continue to invest in artists like Everclear, the company must continue to see the profitability of the investments, even after the groups are no longer with Capitol.

As for those whiners who complain that Ten Years Gone was a vastly better compilation, those promoting the album should note that The Best Of Everclear has sixty percent different material! This album has a vastly different sound and feel to it than the seventy-six minute monstrosity previously released to the marketplace. And for those who complain that there is nothing new on this compilation, we might note that this album is a great sampler for those who have only heard Everclear on the radio and enjoyed what they heard there. This might raise the question of "Where are the other recognizable Everclear tracks like 'Wonderful' and 'I Will Buy You A New Life?'" to which the responses should be that these songs are even better or "you can listen to those on the radio!" Truth be told, what kind of casual fan would not enjoy hearing ten tracks, of which only one is truly a classic and recognizable Everclear song, over twenty-one tracks that have all their favorites that they hear all the time on the radio?! This album is certainly a better investment for the casual fan to buy to get into Everclear and might spark those casual listeners to pick up full Everclear albums. And for all those fans who already have all the Everclear albums, this compilation might, even though it offers them nothing new, might inspire them to revisit those older Everclear albums and possibly even buy new copies!

Nothing sells a "Best of" album like a healthy mix of the familiar and the unknown and The Best Of Everclear culls the best songs from Everclear from our executive's standpoints - the band did not trouble us with any input on this compilation - and with there being virtually no outlay costs to Capitol for this project, profits ought to be high. Clearly, that is what Capitol is in the business for and The Best Of Everclear certainly illustrates that.

Buy a couple copies for you and your friends. Or else, you're not a real fan of Everclear. In fact, you're probably a terrorist.


(Not Really) The Marketing Staff Of Capitol Records

P.S. The best track is "One Hit Wonder" and the weak link is the cover of "Brown Eyed Girl."

For other creatively-written reviews, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Shark Tale
Magnetic Key Holder


For other music reviews, be sure to check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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