Sunday, September 30, 2007

Guess the song

Do you remember this song?

I do.

That's Hum's completely under-rated classic "Stars," off of 1995's You'd Prefer an Astronaut. It hit #11 on the modern rock charts that year. Good to see Hum (who broke up after 1998's equally-good Downward is Heavenward) getting some love from the mainstream media, even if it is in a Cadillac commercial starring that Grey's Anatomy-spinoff chick.

Fun fact: Hum formed in Champaign, Illinois, music hotbed that also gave us the Poster Children and REO Speedwagon (not at the same time, of course). They'd been around since the late '80s, and Allmusic Guide claims their sound was a template for the Smashing Pumpkins (who, of course, were from Chicago). Interesting.

Concert report: Everclear

So I saw Everclear yesterday... sort of. This isn't exactly the Everclear you or I remember. Bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund split in the fall of 2003, after touring for the poorly-received Slow Motion Daydream (Eklund is now playing guitar for The Oohlas, who had some blog buzz earlier this year and a song on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack... Montoya is in two bands: one called Tri-Polar who hearken back to '80s cock-rock and one called Castella that are more Angels&Airwaves-sounding).

Art Alexakis re-tooled with a second guitarist, an organist, and a new bass player and drummer, released a greatest-hits compilation, Ten Years Gone, got dropped by Capitol, and then put out a new album last year called Welcome to the Drama Club. It did not do well, though I think some of the songs are as strong as anything else in the Everclear catalog.

Which brings us to yesterday's show, which took place at 5 in the afternoon at my local college for about 500 people, only 100 or so of whom seemed actually into the music. Art's voice wasn't in very good shape (it cracked at least four times), but they did play the hits: "Everything to Everyone," "Santa Monica," "I will Buy you a new life," "Wonderful," even "AM Radio," which, let's be honest, was the jump-the-shark moment for this band (seriously, who thought a pop song about growing up in the early '70s, featuring a sample from "Mr. Big Stuff," would work for a post-grunge band?). They also dragged out "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom," their last charting song (#30 on the modern rock charts in 2003), some songs off the new album, and, bizarrely, covers of "Brown-Eyed Girl" and "867-5309" (during which Art wore some girl's oversized sunglasses... see the picture at right).

And... it was all right. The band only played for an hour, and the arrangements seemed to have suffered in the transition from a trio to a five-piece (especially on "Everything to Everyone"), but overall, it was a decent show. Everclear was one of those bands that were few people's favorites, but few people openly hated them, either. They were there, they had some hits on the radio that people liked, and now they're struggling (see this report on Art's severe financial problems, as well as his reaction to it on his Myspace blog). The most recent album proves that Art is still a fairly-talented songwriter, so here's hoping that this isn't the last I ever hear of Everclear. Considering he's a reported $3 million in debt, I imagine Everclear will keep touring like this until the last community college in Montana says no.

But while we're here, let's take a look back, shall we?
This site has a great collection of live and rare Everclear mp3s, and YouTube, of course, has most of the band's videos, like:

They did not play "Heartspark Dollarsign" at the show yesterday, which was a disappointment, as it's one of their best songs. Apparently, Art doesn't like it much anymore, since it was inexplicably left off the greatest-hits CD.

Here's one from when everything started to go pear-shaped (intercut with some random dude's trip to Wales, but that's all I could find), the aptly-named "When It All Goes Wrong Again." I like the odd implications that Art has become some sort of cult leader.

They didn't play this one, either.

And to wrap up, here's one from the last album, called "Glorious." I really like this song. Note all the new band members.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Welcome, all to your new one-stop shop for all things '90s (well, not all things... I won't be discussing O.J. Simpson, Beverly Hills 90210 or Saved by the Bell: the New Class). If a band made it on the playlist of a radio station that advertised itself as the Buzz, the Edge, the X, or Z sometime in the 1990s, chances are it's gonna get talked about here. Now then, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to a mid-afternoon free Everclear show at my local college. Back with a report later.