Everclear’s Art Alexakis is many things – songwriter, producer, singer, musician – but perhaps his strongest attribute is survivor. As a child, he grew up in a single parent household in a tough neighborhood after his father abandoned the family (famously captured in song as “Father Of Mine”). He’s gone through the pit of drug abuse and come out the other side intact. Hell, he’s even been married and divorced three times.
And now he’s once again shedding his skin, but this time it’s his band members and catalogue getting a celebratory dance before he moves on to new challenges. In case you had any doubt, a picture’s worth a thousand words. On the inner photo of In A Different Light, a quintet of musicians walks a road together, laughing, smiling. The cover photo has Alexakis alone, guitar in hand, heading towards a bright light.
Then again, he’s pretty direct about what Everclear was and is. In his online blog he states: “without getting into specifics,……it had run it’s course….some guys left because i wanted them to,….some guys left because they wanted to,….it is what it is….you all know that this is and has always been my band….is was time to move on….i truly wish them all the best in everything they do”. Before the split, however, they were able to record this collection, predominantly revisions and reinterpretations of past classics with two new songs (“At The End of The Day” and “Here Comes The Darkness”). A new band and a brand new album are slated for 2010.
The last few years haven’t been prolific for new Everclear music; after dropping two successful albums in 2000 they released the underwhelming Slow Motion Daydream in 2003. Welcome To The Drama Club followed in 2006, recorded after splitting with Craig Montoya and Greg Eklund, the other members of the lineup that enjoyed the band’s critical and commercial success. Other than that, there were two greatest hits and a covers album keeping the fire lit; so upon first glance one might consider this another commercial placeholder. And while you’d be right, at least it’s an inventive one.
Culling nine of his favorites from over the years, these new recordings find Alexakis in deeper voice and organic mode, acoustic guitar and keyboards as the driving force in place of wall-of-sound electric, beats and cacophony. The results are mostly solid, as deeply personal songs like “I Will Buy You A New Life” and “Learning How To Smile” easily make the transition to a more organic version. It’s impossible to top the appeal and sonic wallop of “Santa Monica”, but this stripped down version is still enjoyable. And “Rock Star” sounds even better than the original.
The new tracks slide in seamlessly. The lyrical content of “Here Comes The Darkness” is again uber-personal, Alexakis ready to go through hell again knowing he has no one to blame but himself. Musically, I prefer the soul/gospel input of Liv Warfield on “At The End of the Day”. But if these two tracks are indicative of what’s to come, he sounds rejuvenated.
So take a bow Davey French, Josh Crawley, Sam Hudson and Tommy Stewart – your final rodeo as Everclear was a good one. This 11-track CD will be available October 6th on 429 Records, who will also release the new Everclear project in 2010.
And so it begins…again.
My review of one of their classics.