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I Hate To Be The One To Say It...

I Hate To Be The One To Say It...
by Brett Paragow

The opinions expressed here are not the thoughts of those associated with Hungry & Hollow, or myself, it's owner. However, while I may disagree with him, I respect Brett's opinion, an opinion he is fully entitled to have. - Eric

     Before I go on, keep in mind that what I'm about to say is not to be taken as an offensive statement. I'm obviously a fan of the band; I take time out of my day to moderate a mailing list, etcetera. But...I think this needs to be said, and if I'm the only one who agrees, so be it. But if you do agree with me, by all means please email me and tell me so, cause I need to know that I'm not the only one with doubts.

Fuck it, I'll just say it;

Volume 2 is a bad record.

     I know, I know, I know what I said after it's release. I was wrong, very wrong. I know the arguments for the record as well; that it's supposed to be a return to roots, lyrics weren't really focused on, etc... All of these excuses are irrelevant if you ask me.

     Art has changed, as evidenced by the brilliant Volume 1. And yes, volume 1 is brilliant. Profundity aside, though, look at the songwriting on LHTS. Art's witty as ever, yet wise to his past, calm and intelligent. He's like the old man sitting on a rocking chair, viewing the world with cynicism, only now he's actually got a basis for his sarcastic wit.

     Sure, with SAF, he was just a seeming washed up record industry guy with virtually nothing to lose. And out of that attitude came song titles like YMMFLAW and refrains like "Watch the world die."

     SMFTA continued along on this same path, wittiness be damned. I went back to SMFTA the other day, to listen to it over again, and remind me of why I went out on October 7th and bought it its first day of release. It reminded me of why Everclear's music, and more specifically, Art's vocal track, used to make me so excited. SMFTA's wittiness is subtler, and its arrogance is pushed to the back to make way for a poppier sound, as evidenced by its great success. After FOM's success, I went through a similar period of negativity. But, I now realize that my issues with SMFTA were purely unfounded. At least that album was true. Art was in a state in his mind that he chose to write about. His character sketches were real, and poignant, not, for lack of a better example, about "Spike," who's reputedly "a badass guy." Come on Art, you can do better than that.

     Getting back to LHTS, I don't remember being that excited about an album release since, well...SMFTA. One example of Art's sheer genius is gained from a listen to the title track. Never before had Art so blatantly expressed affection in a love song, atleast not in a sexual sense. And keep in mind that the song is a) without cynicism; b) only slightly autobiographical, and c) stunningly pro-love. Art was happy; he is happy. The conceptual piece of the album, that music is the soundtrack by which we live our lives, only further served to convince me again of Everclear's talents, (again, more specifically Art's talents, but, in all fairness, I think that The Honeymoon Song is a great track. Kudos to Greg.) Keep in mind by the way, that all of the seemingly depressing character sketches on LHTS (e.g. TSC, Otis Redding) all have underlying upbeat messages. In Thrift Store Chair, Art looks ahead towards tomorrow w/ skeptic optimism, towards a relationship in mid-crumble.

     Now, to knock GTFABA. Craig said on Behind the Music he thought it was Everclear's best record. Bassists say the darndest things, don't they? Maybe for you Craig, but lyrically, how can you deny its inferiority. "All Fucked Up," Art, I thought you were past that bullshit. Even Fred Durst would cringe. How more contrived of a song could "Rock Star" be? Even Tommy Lee would cringe. It's almost as though Art sat down and thought that a song about fame would be cool. But the wittiness in comments like "I want a girlfriend who does not drink beer" is completely lost, at least on me, and comes off less as old witty Art ("Yes i guess i fucked up again" anyone?) and more as chauvenistic. If I was back in 1995, hearing "Rock Star" on the radio, I'd be hard pressed to not instantly dislike the band. Santa Monica, by contrast, was an ingenius blast of infectious alterna-pop not unlike Nirvana. "Rock Star" sounds more like a poor Motley Crue tri

     So, to address some of this towards Art, at least in some way, I offer this letter of sorts. Keep in mind that I know it's none of my business, and I know it's irrelevant as Art will do what he wants, as well he should...

Art -

     Don't throw away your artistic integrity. One thing that's always kept me attracted to your music was your unflinching wittiness and social conscience. Granted, I'd heard stories of your purported bad side, but it was irrelevant in my mind. (overdramatization alert) You were a rock star; a hero of sorts to me, and now, for lack of a better term, your band's become an in-joke. Radio programmers aren't gonna play a band that puts out throwaway tracks like "Rock Star" and a lackluster cover of "Brown Eyed Girl." Because, as bad as corporate radio is, they've got some sense of integrity. But Art, I implore you to ask yourself where yours has been hiding.

     To look ahead to far greater things, I'll be optimistic. Because I want you to know that I have an almost unfeelable faith in your talent, in your artistic goals, and a faith that your ambition and desire to make money won't come between either of those.

     So Art, I'll drink a toast to your new solo album, in the hopes that it truly will be what you want it to be. Don't deny it if you know it's true. Make an album with ONLY two acoustic guitar tracks and a vocal track. Overproduction isn't always for the best. Try it the other way again. I implore you please, before I go insane listening to the utter petulance of GTFABA. Cause deep inside, you know that "All Fucked Up" is not the song you wanted to record. And on behalf of us fans, if I may, take your time. Release dates be damned; take until 2003 - pull a fucking Weezer. Hole yourself up in the Hollywood Hills for all I care, but just come out with the brutally honest solo record that I know you're capable of recording.

Sincerely,

Brett Paragow

Direct all flames towards Downtime, or just to me at bretparago@aol.com.


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