Everclear

Catching Up On The Week (Nov. 20 Edition)

A few #longreads for the weekend…

This week we have a few articles for your perusal that directly relate to the bands we covered over the past few days.  First, we have two extended profiles on Beach Slang, our new favorite band.  SPIN dives into the band’s biography in detail, while Grantland (R.I.P.) looks at the band in context of modern indie rock.

After reading our review of Everclear’s sold-out show in support of the twentieth anniversary of Sparkle and Fade, be sure to check out this Willamette Week piece which provides details on the making of the album (and covers how Art Alexakis earned a certain reputation around Portland), as well as this interview with Art for The Oregonian.

Finally, settle in and read this lengthy look at the state of The National from Stereogum, including how they ended up pursuing side projects like EL VY and Pfarmers, as well as the work that the band has done in following up Trouble Will Find Me.

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Everclear, Live at the Wonder Ballroom

There needed to be the right set of circumstances to drag my ass to Portland to see an Everclear show, and Wednesday night at the Wonder Ballroom provided those exact requirements.  The group returned to their hometown to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their breakthrough album, Sparkle and Fade, and would play the record in its entirety.  Though I have ignored Everclear’s more recent output for a number of years, I still have fond memories of listening to Sparkle and Fade in my high school years, and continue to insist that it is one of the best top-to-bottom alternative rock albums of the 90’s.   I was more than glad to relive those days, aided by the guarantee that I would see all my favorite songs performed live.

Sparkle...

Sparkle…

This was more of an “Everclear” performance than an Everclear performance, with Art Alexakis having long shuffled out the “classic” lineup of Greg Eklund on drums and Craig Montoya on bass for a rotating cast of supporting players.   To be fair, the band was always the manifestation of Art’s vision, and one would be hard-pressed to come up with many memorable contributions from either former member (though I have always loved Eklund’s signature drawn-out single-stroke rolls).  As long as it is Art singing and playing his songs, fans are going to be happy, as they were on Wednesday night.

The band threw a number of curveballs in the usual Album Anniversary show, including opening with “I Will Buy You A New Life” from Sparkle and Fade‘s follow-up, So Much for the Afterglow.  The choice initially threw the crowd for a loop, but soon they were singing along to every word; Art explained the decision at the conclusion of the song, noting that it was the success of Sparkle that would allow him to promise that house “way up in the West Hills” from the chorus (and to which many fans recognized, pointing in the direction of that part of town during the performance).  The band then launched into the familiar strains of “Electra Made Me Blind”, and the crowd went wild.

You might actually be crazy for leaving Nehalem

You might actually be crazy for leaving Nehalem

It was not a perfect performance, with the band often dragging through some of the slower parts, and Art tending to give off a frustrated vibe when the crowd failed to remember all the lyrics for sing-along portions.  However, the highlights made up for any perceived shortcomings, including rousing versions of “You Make Me Feel Like A Whore” and “Heartspark Dollarsign”, and a touching performance of “Queen of the Air”.  The decision to insert the old favorite “Fire Maple Song” from their debut World of Noise in a mid-set break to mark the divide between Side A and Side B of the album was brilliant, as was giving the crowd a brief taste of their huge hit “Santa Monica” before saving it for the last song of the night, ending the evening on a high note.

There were many who questioned what kind of reaction Art would receive in his hometown show, since there was a significant subset that never accepted Everclear as a true Portland band.  It was an uncertainty that even Art acknowledged early in the night, but the Wonder Ballroom was packed with fans who showed their love for the band with great volume throughout the show.  The snide hipsters were unable to get a ticket to the sold-out show, and the night was the better for it.  We loved Sparkle and Fade and the man that created it, and we did not need to hear any dissenting opinions that night.

...and Fade

…and Fade

Openers Hydra Melody had to be the slickest opening act I have ever seen, an impressive feat since I understood that they were touring in support of their first full-length album.  There was a confidence to their performance that was admirable, as they often acted as if the crowd had paid their tickets to see them instead of the headliner (though this is not to say that they dismissed the presence of Everclear, when in fact it was quite the opposite).  Their style did not quite align with my preferences, though they never bored me.  However, I am sure at least one of our readers will enjoy the fact that they featured a cover of Toto’s “Africa”–perhaps this will cause him to almost buy their album!

Catching Up On The Week (Sept. 18 Edition)

A large number of #longreads for your weekend reading pleasure…

Alternative Nation recently talked to Mike McCready of Pearl Jam for an extensive interview that touched on a variety of subjects, including his work in Mad Season, his songwriting approach, and what the future holds for his main gig.  As always, McCready comes off as one of the nicest guys you will find in rock.

Fellow Seattle legend and sometimes-collaborator Chris Cornell was interviewed by the AV Club for their Set List feature, wherein they took a retrospective look at his varied career so far, offering insight into the Soundgarden reunion among other topics.

Elsewhere on the AV Club, Everclear’s Sparkle and Fade was analyzed for the site’s Permanent Records feature, providing some nice perspective on an underappreciated classic.

DIY talked to Foals as they prepared for the release of What Went Down, with the band discussing their recording philosophy and attitude towards writing new material.

Bradford Cox of Deerhunter opened up for a rather bizarre interview on Grantland.

Finally, we are not sure when this article was originally published, but we just came across this look back to the recording of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s classic Source Tags & Codes in Magnet, where the band discusses the making of the album as well as its effect on the rest of their career.

An Appreciation of the 360° Music Video

I have long been a fan of music videos, and I believe that one of the unfortunate consequences of the decline of MTV and other cable music networks is that we are unable to see the progress of a legitimate art form.  With this in mind, know that Rust Is Just Right will often try to highlight our favorite videos and techniques.  Today we will look at a specific form which saw a mini-renaissance of sorts, the 360° music video.

This specific technique is a variation of an old stand-by, the one-shot video.  It takes a remarkable amount of skill and planning to pull off a memorable one-shot video, because it has to balance between being simple enough to accomplish with one take while also portraying some event that will make the video memorable to some degree.  The 360° video is a particularly ingenious variation of the one-shot video, because its very nature creates the illusion of movement and allows the director to mess with the predictions of the viewer.  There is a sense of progress, even if the action does not necessarily move forward, and because the viewer is constantly anticipating what is happening off-screen, the director has time to prepare and come up with a surprise as to what happens next.

Last year saw two different takes on the 360° concept from wildly different artists.  The first was the video for “Inside Out” from clipping., which followed a CGI representation of the MC navigating around a street corner, with each line represented by a specific image that takes the place of his head.  It is quite entertaining, and also helps the viewer connect with the specific lyrics of the song.

The other video from last year which utilized this concept was Philip Selway’s “Around Again”.  The song title provides an obvious clue as to why the director went with this conceit, but rest assured the result rises above being a mere gimmick.  Here, the director plays with repetition of certain movements and actions as well as incorporating slow-motion, colors, and freeze-frames, which provide a stark contrast to the illusory movement around the track.

Now contrast these recent videos with two alternative rock videos from back in the day when rock videos actually got played on TV.  First, there’s Everclear’s bouncy and irreverent “Everything to Everyone”.

Now compare that to Saves the Day’s “At Your Funeral”.

The most interesting comparison between the two pairs is how the recent videos focus on a protagonist traveling around in a set track, while the camera in the Everclear video rotates without any clear target and instead allowing specific scenes to take the spotlight with each rotation.  The “At Your Funeral” video splits the difference by focusing both on a static shot of singer Chris Conley, keeping him squarely in the center of the frame as the camera rotates, as well as covering the major moments of a family’s life (in super-fast motion) with the camera’s unyielding revolutions.

Though all four videos use a similar approach, each is able to stand out in distinct ways with each yielding a memorable result.  The mere usage of this clever technique is not enough to guarantee a notable result, but it can help, and the director in each video utilized the concept to their advantage.  If anyone else can think of any other examples of this type of music video, we’d love to hear it, and if possible compare them to these instances above.

Over the Weekend (Dec. 1 Edition)

Various fun links to help you recover from the holiday weekend…

It’s that time of year again when all the different music publications begin their tally of the best albums of the year, and while we here at Rust Is Just Right hold out on releasing our list until the next year, that doesn’t mean we won’t share what others have deemed worthy.  Both MOJO and Paste have released their lists, and you’ll find that many of the albums we’ve praised this year have shown up on both countdowns.  If you feel we have been incomplete in our coverage so far, by all means take a look–we’ll be doing so as well to make sure we have covered all the bases.

The War On Drugs are high on both lists, and probably ours as well–we’ll see for certain next year.  Though their concert this Wednesday night might help nudge them up a bit.

Speaking of lists, The Village Voice was compelled to compile a list of the 60 Best Songs Ever Written About New York City.  I’m not sure what was the impetus or the reason why the cutoff was at 60, but frankly we’re just glad that Interpol’s “NYC” and Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” were fairly close to the top.

Not only is it List Time, it’s also the “Holiday Season.” While Holiday music is generally not the most thrilling genre out there, Los Campesinos! may be the band to avoid that pitfall.  You can hear for yourself, as Pitchfork is streaming their Christmas EP this week.

Noisey talks to two big 90’s bands who are still out there chugging along, posing the same questions to Everclear and Bush–though the interviews were clearly conducted separately, it’s interesting to see their answers side-by-side.  Also, it’s worth reading just to hear about Art Alexakis giving a midterm that day.

Elsewhere on Noisey, Killer Mike discusses his reaction to the grand jury decision in Ferguson in a heartfelt interview.  He’s a busy man these days, not only touring behind the incredible new Run The Jewels album, but also helping to write an Op-Ed on a Supreme Court case being heard today about rap lyrics and the First Amendment.  Billboard has some reporting on the case, including the fact that Eminem lyrics were quoted by Chief Justice Roberts.  Elonis v. United States is potentially a significant opinion for First Amendment caselaw, so it is worth following the arguments.