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Everclear
The Vegas Years
Capitol Records
www.everclearonline.com


Anyone who has ever seen Everclear play live has more than likely heard them throw in a cover song during their set. Throughout the history of the band, Art Alexakis has picked some fine songs to cover, and now for the first time on an official release the public has been given a chance to hear some of those songs. The songs that Alexakis has chosen over the years vary widely in source, but he has always been adept at taking the songs and making them his own. Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" is a perfect example of this; even in knowing the song is a cover, the production and the sounds are immediately reminiscent of Everclear's music, making it seem as though these are the band's own songs. The Go-Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed" has the band stretching sonically, breaking some new ground and having some fun, while the cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" is a bit more straightforward and rock'n'roll-ish, as would be expected. The band does an admirable and cool take on the incredible Yazoo track "Bad Connection", taking all those synth sounds and transitioning them to guitar perfectly. This is probably the most standout track on the album for me. Previously unreleased is a cool psychedelic version of Paul Revere & The Raiders' "Kicks", strikingly heavy and cool, with some great guitar work and throttling rhythms. Alexakis takes on whiny Neil Young's great "Pocahontas" in his own nasally voice, draining a bit of the gruffness from the song, but maintaining the cool vibe. The album also contains tracks culled from such various sources as Van Morrison, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, and Saturday morning cartoons, including a rocking version of the theme from "Speed Racer" (just in time for the summer blockbuster?). The collection wraps up with a humorous revisit to the 80's with Tommy Tutone's "867-5309 (Jenny)". The few tracks like this one that were recorded live really show the intensity of the band in performance, giving a nice counterpoint to the polish and production of the studio tracks. The Vegas Years is a fun collection of familiar songs that will leave you wishing you could run out and catch an Everclear show sooner than later… and besides, it's nice to get a break from Art whining about his dad and having some fun instead.

-L. Keane

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