The difficult fifth album. Recorded for another label and well overbudget, Everclear both suffers and excels for its production shortcomings. A thick wash of reverb has been thrown over the proceedings and songs are either... more » hopelessly buried in the ambient sludge ("The Confidential Agent") or enhanced to supersonic glory ("Sick of Food"). Singer Mark Eitzel's lyrics are increasingly more despondent, but he's spot-on beautiful loser territory for the most part. "Why Won't You Stay," "Ex-Girlfriend," and "Dead Part of You" are all haunting elegies to a past that no longer exists but where their weight cannot be discounted. --Rob O'Connor« less
The difficult fifth album. Recorded for another label and well overbudget, Everclear both suffers and excels for its production shortcomings. A thick wash of reverb has been thrown over the proceedings and songs are either hopelessly buried in the ambient sludge ("The Confidential Agent") or enhanced to supersonic glory ("Sick of Food"). Singer Mark Eitzel's lyrics are increasingly more despondent, but he's spot-on beautiful loser territory for the most part. "Why Won't You Stay," "Ex-Girlfriend," and "Dead Part of You" are all haunting elegies to a past that no longer exists but where their weight cannot be discounted. --Rob O'Connor
"I own hundreds of CDs, but this is by far the best one. It's definitely the most emotional, sad, bittersweet, and depressingly beautiful album of all time, (the Cure's "Disintegration" close at it's heels.) Mark Eitzel is one of the greatest, most under-appreciated living songwriters. His music and lyrics are like none other. The "noise" on "Everclear" which another reviewer complains about is actually drawn out pedal steel and lap steel guitar notes that are of the utmost importance, as they often resolve or completely change Eitzel's gorgeous chords. The use of this technique makes "Miracle on 8th Street", "The Confidential Agent", "Sick of Food", "Why Won't You Stay", and "The Dead Part of You" my personal favorites. My only complaint is that "Crabwalk" doesn't fit in with the rest of the songs at all. This entire CD is produced perfectly, drenched in layers of reverb and delay (very appropriately.) There are so many great things I have to say about this album, but words don't really do it justice. I can't explain how beautiful it is."
Pieter | Johannesburg | 12/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mark Eitzel's voice ranks amongst the greats and his poetic writing is unique. It does often veer towards the desperate, the seedy and the hopeless on these American Music Club albums of the 1990s. There's much alcoholic despair but don't get the wrong impression; those may be the themes, but the atmosphere is dignified, infused with a vital touch by his stirring vocals and the understated virtuosity of the band.
Kicking off with a tender rock ballad, Why Won't You Stay, smoldering, with just the right amount of twanging guitar, the album proceeds into the rousing Rise with its escalating chorus a la U2 and then into the ghostly ambience of Miracle On 8th Street where the wonder turns out to be brandy turned into beer and the grievous Ex-Girlfriend that caps a catalogue of woes with the refrain "I guess you've got no one to take care of you."
The next wail of despair is carried on the up-tempo rhythmic sway of Crabwalk, a powerful riff with pedal steel guitar that climaxes in glorious dissonance, while The Confidential Agent is a spooky, atmospheric ballad that ill prepares you for the disturbing, even harrowing Sick Of Food or the intense rocker The Dead Part Of You with its lament "there's so little of you left." Phew! Hold on, only three more frames of the nightmare left. Those are the melodious Royal Café, a tremulous country song, the breathing space of the soft ballad What The Pillar Of Salt Held Up and the achingly sad Jesus' Hands where Eitzel moans "Hey brother, hey sister/Don't you see a crack form in the dam/For a loser, no one can touch him/He's slipping through Jesus' hands."
Everclear is like a musical expression of the work of the great confessional poets like John Berryman or Anne Sexton. Although the styles are different, this type of exquisite sorrow is also expressed in the work of a variety of other musicians. In mood, it reminds me of Nick Drake, while the exquisite melodies and elegant arrangements bring to mind Sufjan Stevens on e.g. Sister from the Seven Swans album. The obsession with Demon Drink is shared by another master of melancholia, ex-Swans leader Michael Gira now with Angels of Light. It's hard to decide which of California or Everclear is my favorite AMC album. "
Emotive and Intelligent
ubiquitous elvis | Ann Arbor, MI | 12/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This cd changed my musical horizons and brought me to a place where I could understand just what it's like to live life with your heart on your sleeve. Sometimes it's the pain of the past that drives you to drink.."Jesus' Hands"&"Ex-Girlfriend",(or just some serious introspection.) At times you are so in the moment that you are almost like a force of nature or juggernaut,"Rise." Then there's the occasional need to just hang out with the boys and have a few rounds. "Royal Cafe" It ought to be a primer for adulthood and all of the experiences that you will someday call life. Mark Eitzel is amazing performing live, and if you listen you'll hear sage advice via succinct descriptive lyrics and and incredibly emotive voice. The band really started to click on this disc and the new engineer added a wonderful feel to this recording. (He became a full time member of the band after this disc.) Yes, this is an incredibly atmosperic cd that oozes with emotion, exuberant at times, and then melancholic at others it is bottom line a seminal recording that should be in every serious music fans collection. Although Vudi,Bruce, and the boys had their differences with Mark I wish they wouldn't have split the band up. (Mark please consider just recording with them if you can't stand to tour with them anymore.) I personally love the confidential agent, Royal Cafe, Jesus Hands, Rise,... The Crabwalk took awhile to grow on me as it doesn't really seem to fit, but it shows there versatility so what the hey. Not bad for a Columbus OH native."
Top of Mark Eitzel's Form
ubiquitous elvis | 10/01/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's a pity that American Music Club never broke out of the "critics' delight, mainstream anathema" hell that can trap truly creative artists that the general listening public doesn't know how to classify. Their last release on an independent label shows them at the peak of their powers to interpret Eitzel's sweetly tormented songs. The arrangements are more varied in style and tone than on previous recordings, reeling giddily from a gently swaying 3/4 time ballad ("Why Won't You Stay") to noisy power-rock ("Rise") to bent country ("Crabwalk") to sprightly, banjo-driven folk-pop ("Royal Cafe").Even in uptempo numbers like "Royal Cafe", Eitzel's lyrics are typically angst-ridden. Sometimes so poetically obscure as to be nearly incomprehensible in a linear reading (e. g. "The Confidential Agent"; a beautiful song that I love as much for the bottomless depth and haunting longing of its arrangement as for its melody and lyric, although I have no idea what it's about), they nonetheless evoke emotions as strong as those the music awakens. Eitzel sings his sad heart out, his bandmates play as passionately as he sings, and the record is over far too soon, as the last sliding notes of the dulcimer (that well-known rock instrument!) twine around Eitzel's slightly hoarse baritone on "Slipping Through Jesus' Hands":"Well, I'd like to hang out, but I can tell that you're not a drinking crowd. I got no place to go, no one to see, got a thirst that would make the ocean proud."The thirst made it to the recording this time."
Better Than California...
Martin Dawson | Royton, Oldham, United Kingdom | 10/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The greatest AMC album ( hello,controversy - look,we can't all think 'California' is the one! ) whether it is the widescreen of 'Ex-girlfriend'or well, just the swathes of alcohol over and above pretty much every song ( "...but it's not even closing time...and already the stars are falling out of the sky..." ) or possibly the most under-appreciated AMC song ( 'Sick Of Food' ) from which I could quote all day; the ultimate questions we have all suffered the morning after the night before : "I just called to ask you what I said last night...I just called to ask you what I did last night...".
The reverb-led production perfectly suits the melancholy, late at night, reflective mood of the album and all I can really do is gush and hope anyone who reads this buys the album.
These were the songs which resulted in Mark Eitzel being named songwriter of that year by Rolling Stone magazine.The greatest album by the greatest band of all time...do I need to explain the maths to you..."