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“Where Did All The Porn Stars Go?”

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When we last heard from Art Alexakis and the rest of the Everclear gang, they were goin’ about their usual bizness: waxing ruefully nostalgic about their chemically wasted youth, beefing about bad relationships and swiping the occasional non-specific Mellencampism at the boring booboisie – all to the hard-edged, yet VH-1 friendly, rock noise that’s bolstered them through six major releases.
Two-plus years later and the group’s new disc, Slow Motion Daydream (Capitol), is more of the same: no big surprises or too many nods toward a more muted pop audience (unlike the first Songs from An American Movie, which in many ways is their most conceptually daring album), just a lotta tunes that regularly shift between soft and loud/ordered and chaotic. Within a week of its release, the disc has sparked a chorus of critical slams, but Everclear isn’t the first band to find a simple sound and stick with it. (Critically adored icons like Iggy Pop or Lou Reed have built decades-long careers on it.) To these ears, Alexakis is still capable of writing entertaining sing-songy alterna-rock.
Daydream may not have the highs of the band’s earlier, less polished releases – always an issue when your most detailed songs are about the days when you used to do drugs (e.g., “Sunshine (That Acid Summer),” which gives us the memory of an old girlfriend singing “Surrender” in a Taco Bell bathroom) – but, frankly, all the critical drubbing seems a bit excessive to me. (Perhaps Art’s being punished for supporting Al Gore in the liner notes of his last disc?) The band’s perspective remains the same: malcontent everyguys who believe much of the world situation is stupid but can’t articulate too much beyond that fact. Still like their porn and a goof-off day, though, even if they feel kinda pissed about old girlfriends who’ve turned away from both.
And so we get “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom,” an obvious but infectious rock rant from the POV of a former bad girl (“I used to be a dancer at a local strip club/But now I know my right wing from my wrong”) gone straight – with an amusing nyahhing background chorus and a fumble-mouthed slam against boring middle-class Republicans. Or “New York Times,” which shows the singer mood-swinging in the face of indistinct current events. Or “New Blue Champion,” the obligatory relationship post-mortem (“I might be stupid for the rest of my life/But I’ll never be stupid for you again”). Or “Chrysanthemum,” the tiny li’l mid-disc soft song that even adds a street café accordion into the mix. Formulaic sure (if you’ve heard “Rock Star,” you can already predict the chorus to “Soccer Mom”), but each of us has formulas that we key into more readily than others. For me, the band’s Nirvana Lite pop thrash continues to provide seconds of pleasure. But, then, I continue to play my 80’s Iggy Pop discs, too.
I’m still glad to see the band together: Alexakis has enough of a sense of humor about his own pretensions and mortal fears to keep even his misfires from growing annoying – abetted in part to the solid hard rock grounding of bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund. Will any of the current breed of pop-punkers have the staying power of these west coast boys? Couldn’t tell ya, but I kind of doubt it. . .

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About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.
  • http://depassionofchrist2 obirah

    I know that de Devil have used de porn industries to lead many pple to de paths of Hell fire!yes! I wana comment that it is time all de porn stars to willingly make a dramatic detour from de path that they are threading!They must try and repent from their Sins and wake up to the incoming reality. the devil is too small to manipulate mankind because jesus christ has paid the unrefundable price with His blood!they should all repent and give their entire lives to the saving CHRIST! don,t go to hell.LOVE U ALL!