Art Alexakis had credibility problems in the alt-rock world he came
out of. He was 33 when Portland-based Everclear began scoring hits
in 1995, too old to pass muster as one of the grunge kids who were
old news by then anyway, and the hits themselves, most notably
Santa Monica and later Father of Mine, seemed
to purist scenesters. But credibility be damned--Alexakis had seen
enough life to want durability, the kind only strong songwriting
makes possible. The two-volume Songs From an American Movie
(Capitol) is his bid for the brass ring--but also for credibility.
Released a few months apart and sold separately, Vol. 1: Learning
How to Smile is candid pop that downplays loud guitars, while
Vol. 2: Good Time for a Bad Attitude rages along with bad
boys like Limp
Bizkit. The funny thing is, it's the pop record that's more
believable; for Alexakis, rage seems something he recalls from his
scuffling days. The rock songs are suitably skillful, but lack the
emotional immediacy of those on Vol. 1, which is structured around
a marriage breakup. No doubt he sometimes does feel Out of My Depth
and All Fucked Up. But the most memorable performances here are The
Good Witch of the North, a tribute to his new fiancee, and Rock
Star, about how much he wanted to be one.
Rage Against the Machine wanted to be rock stars too, and did quite well at it until lead singer-rapper Zack de la Rocha found more important things to do. Renegades (Epic), a cover album conceived as a tribute to the band's influences a la Guns N' Roses' The Spaghetti Incident?, suggests that they broke up one album too late. Will the Stones or Cypress Hill feel honored? Only by their royalty checks.
Playboy, Dec. 2000