It’s one thing to lead a charge into a glorious new music wave and be seen in terms of trail blazer, but it is a whole different thing when you come on the second, or worse, third wave. The early nineties were ripe with finding the “next big thing.” Great bands got lumped into grunge when their sound wasn’t even close to it (Posies, Teenage Fanclub) and when second generation bands hit the airwaves (Stone Temple Pilots, Bush etc) they were hailed as posers or keepers of a flame – there wasn’t much in between. Believe me, I worked in a record store back in ’94 – ’95 and the used bins were filled with the promise of stardom fallen short.
Then there was Everclear.
Art Alexakis wasn’t just a guy who talked a good game and wrote lyrics about other people’s experiences. He had fallen, picked himself up and wrote music about it. Sparkle & Fade wasn’t him acting like a 90’s rock star to gain fame, he was the real deal… except… well, he was clean and ambitious. Alexakis worked his way into rock stardom in a time when it was supposed to “appear by accident” and stars were supposed to be indifferent. Worse, the sound he was using was derivative of the 90’s biggest star (Nirvana) and filtered through second generation guitar rock bands. Still, I play that debut from time to time and still enjoy it. However…
The rest is history, by the third record hipsters sold their CD’s to ‘used’ music stores, and the regular public just stopped paying attention. Everclear wasn’t doing anything that expand on their original promise.
Now it’s 2015, Everclear have been headlining nostalgia tours of other mid-late 90’s bands, and they’re still putting out music. Cool right?
Not so much.
Alexakis hasn’t grown as a songwriter. He started writing music about broken people and tragic lives and, he still does, in the exact same way he always has. Black Is The New Black could be the follow up to Sparkle & Fade or any other in the successive number of albums; it just doesn’t go anywhere new, and it seems dated out of the gate.
It’s really too bad. I wanted to like this record, but it just doesn’t offer anything I haven’t heard from them before.