Songs From an American Movie Vol. Two: Good Time For a Bad Attitude
One of rock's unwritten rules is that the longer the album title, the worse the album. Everclear isn't doing anything to change game with this by-the-book batch of tossed-off snoozers. There was a time, just a few years ago, when Everclear was one of the more interesting mainstream bands around. Always a top-10 bridesmaid rather than a chart-topping bride, the band concocted an infectious formula that just about scored the mega-hits they were looking for. Unfortunately, those glory days have come and gone. To coin a "Dazed and Confused" phrase: "They got older, and music stayed the same age." Actually it's the reverse: Pop rock got younger and hip-hoppier while the already-getting-up-there Everclear shifted from MTV brats to well-groomed VH1 stars. Now the band has pulled a "Use Your Illusion" by releasing two "theme" albums which prove that, if nothing else, Everclear thinks it has a whole lot to say. The first one ("Songs From an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile," released earlier this year) was Everclear's semi-successful attempt to lighten its sound. With "Vol. Two," these bad boys crank up the amps and rock with a capital R. The results, unfortunately, are less than wonderful. On "Two," former heroin addict/Gap poster boy Art "Axl" Alexakis exhumes the rotted corpse of rock's deadest horse: lengthy whines about the trials and tribulations of being a rich, famous rock star. "I want to be a rock star/I want to be king," Alexakis wails. Interestingly, when taken at face value, I'm-so-ironic odes to success such as "Rock Star" and "Short Blonde Hair" are a trip inside Alexakis' mind. He plainly says he wants to be a wealthy rock star. Of course, he's just being coy, which is supposed to make him oh-so hip. Wishful thinking, Art. A tiny nugget in the liner notes contains the most honest part of this whole pointless record: The band congratulates "president-elect Al Gore; if by some strange chance he didn't win, well you can't blame us for wishful thinking." Wishful thinking, indeed.
Watering Ghost Garden
Creeper Lagoon's 1998 debut, "I Become Small and Go," won the San Francisco quartet serious acclaim and next-big-thing status. Produced for the Dust Brothers' Nicklebag Records label, the album's combination of swirling sonic dreamscapes and keening vocal histrionics (courtesy enigmatic Creeper frontman Ian Sefchick) rang true with indie fans, so the band's follow-up effort was eagerly anticipated. Creeper then signed to the DreamWorks Records empire and spent much of 1999 and 2000 in the studio. Amazingly, the second record STILL hasn't been released, having been pushed back until spring. Thus, Creeperheads will have to suffice with this six-song EP, which finds the band expanding its sound and floating into the realms of aural outer space. Trippy, harmony-heavy tracks, such as "Roman Hearts," contain melodies that stick to the brain like cranial fluid while the Jerry (Talking Heads) Harrison-produced "Big Money Struggle" rocks with verve and confidence. Sefchick's vocals are a standout, and the band's sense of harmony is way better than your average garage slop. Though the group's second album may never come out, if it does, it will undoubtedly be worth the wait.