Everclear – Invisible Stars
If you love Everclear, you’re going to love this record.
It’s 1995. “Sparkle and Fade” tunes are in constant rotation on 99x. “Alternative” is not yet a satellite radio station like Oldies or Classic Rock. Art Alexakis is a rough, tough, honest and clever singer/songwriter that looks like a mechanic who finally kicked his meth habit.
It’s 2012. “Invisible Stars” is coming out in a few weeks. Art Alexakis is a rough, tough, honest and clever singer/songwriter that looks like a mechanic….
You get the point.
Alexakis is 50 now. He’s wiser and shares his wisdom on “Invisible Stars.” Hard lessons learned the hard way play out on tracks like “Tiger in a Burning Tree” and “I am Better Without You.” Yet this record isn’t a departure from old-school Everclear. It’s a return to the harsh and poppy songcraft that made Everclear famous in the early 90’s. This effort doesn’t discover new territory – it carves deeper into who Art Alexakis was then and is now (with a few synthesizers and voice modulators added). Alexakis says this record is genuine and he’s proud of it. He should be.
“Jackie Robinson” is my favorite song. It’s not the radio single, but listening to it will make you a better person. “Santa Ana Wind” is a poignant homage to LA where Alexakis has recently returned to live with his fiancée and daughter. It proves, for a troubled kid who once tried to kill himself by jumping off the Santa Monica pier that he can (happily) go home again. “Be Careful What You Ask For” is the one that will stick from this collection of new songs, Everclear’s first in six years. It restates the mission statement (a la’ Sparkle and Fade), “We burn out in the dark. We are invisible stars.”
Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP
Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.
Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.
Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.
Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.
Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.
The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.
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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”
Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.
Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”
Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.
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