Sunday, December 14, 2014

Song Of The Week: 12/14/14

Song: "Jackie Robinson"

Artist: Everclear

Album: "Invisible Stars"

Year: 2012

"Jackie Robinson" is a song about the life of a particular black man who when he was young saw firsthand the segregation and hatred towards him. His Dad took him to see Jackie Robinson, perhaps the first sign of any type of progress for him for his race, not particularly in race relations however. He saw how mixed race relationships drew even more hatred as he fell for a white girl who was later found in a ditch because of their relationship. The song culminates with the election of a black President and the man dies knowing that America has changed so much. He dreamed of this day happening, but never thought it would. It's basically about racial progress in America. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it is better then when this man was growing up. Everclear formed as a band back in 1991. Following the break up of his previous band Colorfinger, Art Alexakis moved to Portland, Oregon and put an add out in a local magazine. Craig Montoya (bass) and Scott Cuthbert (drums) would answer the add and Everclear was born. Their first two releases "Nervous & Weird" EP and "World Of Noise" were both recorded in a friend's basement and you can hear the real, raw and garage-y feel to those recordings. In 1995, Everclear signed with Capitol Records and released "Sparkle And Fade". The album featured the singles "Heroin Girl", "Heartspark Dollarsign" and "Santa Monica", the single that really propelled the album to platinum status. In 1997, the band released "So Much For The Afterglow", featuring the singles "Everything To Everyone", "I Will Buy You A New Life" and "Father Of Mine", the latter which earned the band Billboard's Modern Rock Band Of The Year for 1998. 2000 saw the band release "Songs From An American Movie Vol. 1: Learning How To Smile". This album featured the band's most successful single, "Wonderful". "Songs From An American Movie Vol. 2: Good Time For A Bad Attitude" was released just four months later. This probably hurt the sales of this album because the promotion was still in motion for the first volume. The second release kind of got lost in the mix with the consumer public. In 2003, the band released "Slow Motion Daydream", featuring the singles "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom" and "The New York Times". At this point, Capitol was basically not promoting Everclear or the album. It only wound up selling just over 100,000 copies. To make matters worse, Montoya and Eklund both parted ways with the band. In 2004, Everclear finished out their contract with Capitol by releasing the greatest hits compilation, "Ten Years Gone: The Best Of Everclear 1994-2004". In 2006, Everclear signed with Eleven Seven Music and released "Welcome To The Drama Club" which featured the singles "Hater" and "Glorious". 2008 saw the band release the all cover album "The Vegas Years", oddly enough it was released through Capitol. 2009 saw the band release "In A Different Light", which featured re-recordings of previous Everclear hits, mostly in an acoustic, stripped down setting. The album featured two unreleased tracks, "Here Comes The Darkness" and "At The End Of The Day". In 2011, the band released "Return To Santa Monica", featuring re-recordings of old songs and some covers, and "Extended Versions", a live album. 2012 saw the band release their first new album in six years, "Invisible Stars". The first single released on this album was "Be Careful What You Ask For". After the release of this album Alexakis created the Summerland Tour. This tour was a 90's nostalgia tour featuring Everclear and such bands as Lit, Marcy Playground, Live, Filter, Sponge, Eve 6 and Soul Asylum to name a few. Currently, Alexakis told the audience at a 2014 Summerland Tour date that the band are in fact working on a new album to be released soon. Everclear is Art Alexakis' baby. He is the chief songwriter and lyricist. While they came out of the post-grunge era, their songs tend to veer more toward power pop. They have garage band, noisy moments (mostly on their first two albums) but generally their songs are very melodic and pop orientated. Alexakis' lyrics are simple, often storytelling in nature. But they tend to be personal or even when he writes about someone else's story, like "Jackie Robinson", he tends to make that very personal as well. His songs are very straightforward is what I'm trying to say. They are not hard to decipher like some other band's songs are. While the band's popularity has waned since 2000, they have definitely made an impact on the music scene and their style and sound is unmistakenly original.

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