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
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
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.
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
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...
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
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.