Vol. Two: Good Time For A Bad Attitude
Everclear is quite possibly the most versatile band still producing music, and dammit it's a good thing they are. Otherwise, we'd be deprived of a major band that has progressed steadily from garage punk-grunge to a semi-mature rock and roll band.
Rock is not dead. It's just changed a little, y'know. But you can rest assured that, when you hear the raging electric guitars and heavy drums of Everclear, you are experiencing at least a little bit of the same wonder kids were feeling in the '50s.
Even more exhilarating is being able to listen to to Vol. One and Vol. Two in succession. The sort of thing I hear most frequently from Everclear anti-fans (those who love to hate 'em) is that all of their music sounds the same.
I find it difficult to see where they're coming from when I hear the soft, sarcastic, and only slightly caustic melodies of Vol. One compared to the all out rage and 'fuck you, too!' attitude of Vol. Two. The only thing tying these two babies together (besides the fact that they were released only six months apart) is the haunting tune of "Song From An American Movie", which begins Vol. One and ends Vol. Two. This song gives a certain edge of completeness to the entire experience, which, ultimately, is sure to leave you emotionally drained.
Why is it, when you stumble upon Everclear, that you find it difficult to stumble back out? It's because, with the first song you listen to, you are officially sharing in the band's emotional pain. And the deeper you go, the harder it is to let go. You become a part of Art Alexakis' life when you hum his lyrics to yourself as you go about your daily life. It can't be helped. The band taps into a myriad of human emotionals, from the over-used aspect of love to the seldom explored feelings of depression. They're not really a happy band, no matter what.
After fully discovering what Everclear has to offer, I found it hard to listen to so-called 'uplifting' songs. Many of the pop bands that write abuse, addiction, pain, or mental illness into their songs have no concrete grasp on their subject, and therefore have a tendency to lose the feeling of despair that makes these topics so real and alive. But Alexakis never loses his focus in his lyrics, truly able to tap into human emotion to bring their songs alive and evoke the proper reaction from listeners. Everclear, as a band, also provides the driving, hard, and raw music needed to back those lyrics up.
After all, can you think of a band that has successfully handled topics like AIDs, BDSM, drug usage and overdosage, fame, divorce, child abuse, and whipped relationships with the same truthfulness, courage, pride, dignity, and good humor?
Vol. Two (song by song)
1) When It All Goes Wrong Again- This song was used to back up the movie 'Antitrust', and it's really not hard to see why. Explosive and angry, it opens the cd with a bang and keeps everything moving. However, it's difficult to even tap into this song without suggesting the (although somewhat cliched) music video concept of Heaven and Hell. However, the two sides are somewhat skewed 'Everclear-style', which makes for an ultimately concerning, frightening, and thought-provoking song. Also includes mention of Art's brother, who died of a drug overdose.
2) Slide- It's hard not to appreciate a song that actually feels like its title. Everything, lyrics, vocals, instruments, seem to slide from subject to subject. And with lyrics like "I know it's wrong but I just can't seem to act my age/ I know it's wrong but I just can't seem to control my rage", this song reveals a great deal of underlying anger (which makes the lyrics fun to scream).
3) Babytalk- "This is a song about Spike/ He is a badass guy". This song seems like harmless fun, but really makes a great point: guys with demanding girlfriends... stay the hell away from me!
4) Rock Star- Another harmless song... or is it? Used for the movie of the same name, "Rock Star" showcases the band's sense of humor for what they do, and also taps into that part of all of us that just wants to be the center of attention. If you've never seen this song in concert... well... you really should. And if you just wanna be a rock star, try to stake out a spot near the front of the crowd.
5) Short Blonde Hair- Immediately following "Rock Star" is a song to illustrate why fame isn't so great. We are treated to the sophisticated metaphor of the star's private life as that of one in a goldfish bowl. It also digs its heels into those who aren't stuck on Everclear with the lyrics "No, I just don't care (I hear them under their breath)/ No, I just don't care (what they say... when they think that I can't hear them)/ I see them point and I see them stare/ There goes that stupid guy with the short blonde hair".
6) Misery Whip- And just when we thought we'd found the introspective, we are whisked off to a world of bondage, domination, and pain. Whether the speaker is asking his 'Misery Whip' for physical or mental pain, he clearly gets the point across that there is a dark side to even the most 'normal' people.
7) Out of My Depth- Art treats us to another look at the calm turn his life has taken and clearly showcases inadequacies many of us presume to have. He ends this dark song on an almost positive note, stating "Someday, I know... I will make my monsters go away".
8) The Good Witch of The North- This is the only kind of song where Everclear borders on the 'fluffy' kind of romance, and it still manages to keep a twisted feel to it. Again, it seems desperate throughout, but manages to end on a positive note.
9) Halloween Americana- Good god... what can you say about "Halloween Americana" besides that it's got a kick-ass name and a good steady beat? Actually, for an instrumental, Everclear manages to kick in the ethereal and scary without missing a step. While not quite as fun as "El Distorto de Melodica" ("So Much For the Afterglow"), it still manages to conjure up dark nights, monsters, and frights for us.
10) All Fucked Up- And here's the song that gave Everclear their first 'Parental Advisory' sticker ever. Was it worth it? Hell, yes. Even Art seems to think so, which you'll find if you read the liner notes. You can't ask for a more realistic song, in my personal experience.
11) Overwhelming- Lyrics remain as enticing as ever, however, hearing the entire band play it seems to ruin the intimacy of the song. If you want to hear real pain put in to this baby, check out the soundtrack for "Permanent Midnight" and hear Alexakis perform it by his lonesome.
12) Song From An American Movie Pt 2- And we come full circle to the place we started with on Vol. One. But, like every other song on Vol. Two, it has taken a more melancholy and angry tone. This song might be rougher, but it's probably the most beautiful on the album.