Reminiscences permeate the dozen diverse tracks that populate Everclear's fourth outing. The trio, spearheaded by writer/guitarist/producer Art Alexakis, looks back in myriad ways on Songs from an American Movie. Alexakis ... more »skillfully and sweetly addresses his recent divorce ("The Honeymoon Song," "Now That's It's Over"), musical heroes ("Otis Redding"), and childhood ("AM Radio"), frequently matching his words with suitably retro music. Although the only cover is a new-wave take on Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," familiar musical references abound. On "AM Radio," a brief sample of "Mr. Big Shot" sets the tone for funky flashback fun, while "The Honeymoon Song" is full of Brian Wilson inflections. Alexakis references his own "Everything to Everyone" in the title track, while "Otis Redding," "Unemployed Boyfriend," and "Wonderful" are more commercial alt-rock Everclear than homage Everclear. Alexakis set out to make a pop album, and while millennial teenagers have their own definition of "pop," for '70s-kid Alexakis, Songs from an American Movie serves as a summertime soundtrack to his thirtysomething life. --Katherine Turman« less
Reminiscences permeate the dozen diverse tracks that populate Everclear's fourth outing. The trio, spearheaded by writer/guitarist/producer Art Alexakis, looks back in myriad ways on Songs from an American Movie. Alexakis skillfully and sweetly addresses his recent divorce ("The Honeymoon Song," "Now That's It's Over"), musical heroes ("Otis Redding"), and childhood ("AM Radio"), frequently matching his words with suitably retro music. Although the only cover is a new-wave take on Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," familiar musical references abound. On "AM Radio," a brief sample of "Mr. Big Shot" sets the tone for funky flashback fun, while "The Honeymoon Song" is full of Brian Wilson inflections. Alexakis references his own "Everything to Everyone" in the title track, while "Otis Redding," "Unemployed Boyfriend," and "Wonderful" are more commercial alt-rock Everclear than homage Everclear. Alexakis set out to make a pop album, and while millennial teenagers have their own definition of "pop," for '70s-kid Alexakis, Songs from an American Movie serves as a summertime soundtrack to his thirtysomething life. --Katherine Turman
This disc comes in a paper jewel case if you want all inserts, etc.
0 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Cassandra T. from SAN JOSE, CA Reviewed on 3/26/2007...
This is good summer driving music...no need to listen too closely, but fun enough to rock out to.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kori Frazier | Kent, OH United States | 07/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The artwork on the compact disc of Everclear's latest album depicts the classic sad smiley face. Although this is a creative, and yes, fun design, I have to say that it completely disagrees with my thoughts about this album. Even though I am not a big fan of alternative music, Everclear's musical abilities greatly impress me. When I bought "So Much For the Afterglow" last year, I thought that it was a superb album. Yesterday, upon listening to this latest release, I was forced to reassess my opinion. "Songs From An American Movie" puts "Afterglow" to shame. I think that this is the first alternative album I have ever bought where I seriously like the majority of the CD. Also, as a fan of the culture of the late 1960s, I enjoyed the concept theme on this album that is prevalent in songs like "AM Radio" and "Otis Redding." Everclear's cover of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" is even better than the original. And of course, we can't overlook "Wonderful", which is probably the best Everclear song I have heard to date. The situation and message in this song has brought tears to my eyes every time I have listened to it; it is just too close to reality for many people that I know. Conclusively, this is an excellent CD. It is not exclusively for alternative fans, but can be enjoyed by anyone who just likes to listen to good music. I, a country and folk music fan, am walking proof of that! :-)"
Jon Simon | Fairfax, VA USA | 07/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most alternative bands today seem to be one amorphous band with hundreds of musicians all producing the same songs. Everclear has set apart themselves from this generic monster with their latest album, Songs From an American Movie, by using a rich variety of styles. For example, "Here We Go Again" and "AM Radio" use simple but effective sampling in the songs, similar to Beastie Boy's "Pauls' Boutique". "Learning How to Smile", "Otis Redding", and "Annabella's Song" use orchestral accompaniment similar to the Beatles "Sgt Pepper". And, there are songs such as "Wonderful" which is simply pure Everclear. This album isn't perfect though: there is a cover of "Brown Eyed Girl" which I thought was not necessary, and "Unemployed Boyfriend" uses an annoying voice over of a women talking about how she meets this guy at the unemployment office. However, there are many gems. "Wonderful" displays Everclear's great song writing ability; the hard-biting lyrics will remind you "Father of Mine". "Here We Go Again" and "AM Radio" have a funky back beat and are very catchy. This album is definitely the "Sgt Boutique" for Everclear. I hope they continue to produce songs with meaningful lyrics, depth, and variety."
Heartfelt Lyrics + Diversity = Success
Jon Simon | 07/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the most "poppy" (yet in the best sense of the word) and diverse Everclear album yet. Each song is unique, which leaves the listener far from bored. "AM Radio" is a perfect example of this. In it, Art raps to a same of Jean Knight's "Mr Big Stuff," while reminiscing about the '70's and the AM radio that he grew up with. Additionally, the song "Here We Go Again" samples "Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy. In stark contrast, the remake of "Annabella's Song" features a 40-piece orchestra arranged by Mort Lindsey, who also worked with Sinatra. "Otis Redding" and "Learning How to Smile" are my personal favorites. They are very melodic and have choruses that will make you want to sing along. The cover of "Brown Eyed Girl" has been taken under Everclear's wing, as if it were there own. It is hard to distinguish as different from any other song on the album; it fits so perfectly among all the original songs. Other songs, such as the acoustic reprise of "Song from an American Movie," and "Thrift Store Chair," are short but sweet. The simplicity and intimacy make these songs great. Other songs, such as "Wonderful" and "Now That It's Over" will really hit home with some people, as they deal with Art Alexakis' recent divorce. The light-hearted love songs, "Unemployed Boyfriend" and the "The Honeymoon Song" (the latter written by the band's drummer, Greg Eklund), are enough to make any listener smile a little. Yes, Alexakis, along with anyone else who listens to this album, will learn how to smile. This is quite a departure from the old Everclear sound, which will be picked up with "Songs from an American Movie, Vol. Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude," due out around Thanksgiving. Look forward to that if you are looking for a really "rockin'" sound. This is an album that will surprise and delight even the biggest Everclear fan. I definitely recommend it to anyone. If this were the soundtrack to an American movie, it would sure be a great one!"
Jennifer M. Galvan | Oakland, CA USA | 07/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the advent of Everclear's new CD, "Songs From An American Movie, Vol. One: Learning How To Smile," comes an exquisite new breed of musical styling for Everclear. Although "American Movie" demonstrates the softer side of Everclear, it will please both new listeners as well as "die-hard/tried and true" Everclear fans. Songs like "Here We Go Again" and "AM Radio" display hints of 70's soul/pop. Other songs including "Wonderful," "Unemployed Boyfriend" and "Now That It's Over" have totally addictive rhythms which are coupled with the cutting down-to-earth/bottom line lyrics that front man Art Alexakis is famous for. The CD also contains a TOTALLY DIVINE cover of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl." The CD is a perfect blend of high-energy "shake your booty" songs as well as thoroughly enjoyable songs for "kick-back" listening. I find "American Movie" totally addictive. Each time I play the CD, I just want to dance and twirl around and around until I feel sick - just like when I was little girl. In fact, the CD may just prompt a new form of exercise for Everclear fans - EVERCLEAR-OBICS! I give it a 10+, 5-Star, A+ rating!"
It's a very fine work of Art*
Adam W. Smith | Kansas City | 07/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"*-and Craig and Greg. Everclear's fourth full-length album, "Songs from an American movie, Vol. 1, Learning How To Smile", is Everclear's most accessible album yet, though that's not necessarily a bad thing at all. This is one of those albums that not only works quite well as a whole (the concept here, from what I have gathered, is Art's life or what could be many people's lives...falling in and out of love, growing up, hearing your favorite song on the radio, divorce, etc.), but also has many great moments of individual songs. Here's a track by track lowdown: "Song From An American Movie, Pt. 1" is brief, yet fairly touching account of love for your child. Short and sweet."Here We Go Again" is real uptempo, laced with a Public Enemy sample and horns. It's as hip-hop as Everclear will probably ever get. The topic here: remembering falling in love."AM Radio" screams "radio single" because it's so catchy, upbeat, and effectively uses a sample from "Mr. Big Stuff" to hold it all together. The topic here: growing up all the while having music hold it all together. It's a song that I can not only relate to, but it's also one of the best ones on here."Brown Eyed Girl" is a cover of the legendary Van Morrison song. It's an uptempo rendition that has Everclear's stamp all over it, from the bass/drum interaction to Art's trademark vocals. Another potential radio song. "Learning How To Smile" is where the strings kick in. Not my favorite track on here, it sounds the most like a song recorded for "So Much For The Afterglow". The topic here: holding on to your love."The Honeymoon Song" is where you have to make sure you've got the right CD in the player. The gentle, Hawaiian mandolin atmosphere created here is quite nice, coupled with Greg's (yes, Greg's) lead vocal make this the best lost 70's Beach Boys song I've ever heard. "Now That It's Over" begins as a rewrite of "When The Levee Breaks", then rides the drum beat into what sounds like a chamberlain in the background, creating a sort of carnivalesque atmosphere. One of the best songs on here. The topic here: picking it all up now that the relationship is over."Thrift Store Chair" is a brief, countrified account of figuring it all out once it's over, doing what you can to cope. Nice little song."Otis Redding" is an account about looking back, wishing you could change or relive the past. Musically, it's a straightforward Everclear song, and it flows well."Unemployed Boyfriend" is more straightforward Everclear, interspersed with the annoying sound of a girl leaving a message on an answering machine. The only track on here I don't like."Wonderful" is the first single, the tale of a divorce, seen through the innocent child. It's the Everclear you know and love, both musically and lyrically.The last track, "Annabella's Song" is a gentle lullaby that is a fitting closer. It's very nicely done, thoughtful and touching. Overall, this is a great album. The expansion of Everclear's sound is great, and nothing on here sounds particularly tired or out of place. It's the great pop record I'm sure Art always wanted to make. If you think it sounds too soft for you, borrow it from a friend before you judge. If it is, just wait until this fall, when, I'm told, Vol. 2 will be out, rocking harder, sounding more like the post-punk 3 angry men a lot of Everclear fans love most. I can't wait, but I'm "wonderful" for the time being."