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Songs From An American Movie:
Vol. 1 Learning How To Smile

Okay, I really wanted to like this record, I really did. Much to my chagrin, I really am a fan of this band. Art Alexakis has a signature voice— even if you've never heard the song, you know who's singing—and I like the Everclear sound. I know it's not "cool" to say that if you're an indy purist. Well, I'm not an indy purist, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I've defended this band countless times to my friends (who all seem to have a pretty myopic view of music in general). However, with Songs From an American Movie, Everclear lost me.

In their attempt to spread their proverbial creative wings, the band has succeeded only in releasing the most mediocre record in their career. Initially, this was intended to be an Art Alexakis solo project—and it probably should've stayed that way.

Don't get me wrong, it's got some shinning moments, (the Public Enemy loop at the beginning of "Here We Go Again" and the loop of "Mr. Big Stuff" at the beginning of "AM radio" are nice distractions) but they are to few to salvage this exercise in mediocrity. There are a few songs that are definitive Everclear (Unemployed Boyfriend, Otis Redding) but really how many times can you play the same chords, sing the plight of the same underdog, and talk about how much your life doesn't make sense?! Alexakis makes mention several times through the record, of how his daughter is the only thing that makes him smile (Songs From An American Movie, Wonderful) and how he's not around much for her. After this record, he may be around quite a bit more—around home that is.

Purely from a musical standpoint, Everclear has proven they have depth, but who needs depth when you can rock? Ever present on this record are the newfound Beach Boy-esque layered haramonies from So Much For The Afterglow, but gone are the guts. More than one of the songs on this record sounds familiar—it should...it's still the same three chords. The only thing that is 'ever clear' here is that my friends were right.


Track Listing:
1. Song from an American Movie, Pt. 1
2. Here We Go Again
3. A.M. Radio
4. Brown Eyed Girl
5. Learning How to Smile
6. The Honeymoon Song
7. Now That It's Over
8. Thrift Store Chair
9. Otis Redding
10. Unemployed Boyfriend
11. Wonderful
12. Annabella's Song

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