Elliott Smith - From A Basement On The Hill
Elliott Smith is a man who needs no introduction. From his work on the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack, to his first two albums, to the brilliance of "Either/Or" and "XO", Elliott has always delivered solid records. Elliott's music has never been groundbreaking, nor does it try to be. Instead, Elliott delivers honest, from the heart music that never shows off and always pays tribute to his influences.
There are two types of records that can be released from an artist after they die. Firstly, there are the collections of rare songs that just seem to pop out of nowher. Secondly, there are the albums that the artist was working on before they die (eg Jeff Buckley's "Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk"). This record is the latter. While Elliott didn't completely finish this record, it still feels finished, as if he were still alive today. This album is very good and is up there with his best. However, this album is a lot more electric than "Either/Or" or "XO"
Coast To Coast
- The track starts out with some nice sounding strings, although if the track is at low volume, they just sound like noise. Then the drums and guitar enter in with a catchy riff. Elliott plays electric for this track. There is also a piano in here. Elliott's voice is excellent along with the guitar and piano work. The song is a good, solid, straight foward pop song. Excellent lyrics too, a great line from the song is "I'll never be good enough for you". A great way to open the album and although not one of the best of the album, still very good.
Lets Get Lost
- Starts out with just a high acoustic riff, Nick Drake style. The bass comes in and out throughout the song. It's a great track, very poppy and catchy, Elliott's voice is the highlight of the song. The track's lyrics are also excellent, the most memorable line is "to find some beautiful place to get lost". The song is pretty much entirely acoustic and that's exactly the way is should be. A very well done track, probably one of the album's best tracks.
Pretty (Ugly Before)
- The best track of the album so far. It's a slow, fairly emotional track. The verse trades off between Elliott singing and some country style licks on the electric guitar. This may be one of the first really great Elliott tracks where his vocals actually aren't the highlight. The best part of the song is when Elliott sings "I felt so ugly before, didn't know what to do" and then a pretty little piano riff comes in. Excellent stuff.
Don't Go Down
- The verses of this song are pretty cool. They include some drums and arpeggios on a distorted electric guitar. The best part of the song is when everything cuts back to just a light sound and Elliott is left singing "don't go down, stay with me". A good song, not really one of the best tracks on the album, but still a good track nonetheless. It's pretty slow but quite loud, especially in contrast to the previous song.
Strung Out Again
- This song is kind of strange sounding, while not being strange at all. The verses are quiet with some electric guitar and Elliott singing some pretty high parts. The choruses go loud with a descending distorted slide from the electric guitar. Not bad, but it doesn't really suit Elliott's voice. This song would be better if it was just acoustic.
- Very catchy song and one of the best on the album yet. Elliott sings the song extremely well. The verses include acoustic guitar with some clean electric leads. The best part of the song is the chorus where Elliott sings "it's just a fond farewell to a friend". Very catchy with some extremely good melodies. Very good guitar work as well. Elliott recorded some very nice vocal harmonies with himself for this song. A true highlight.
- The song essentially starts with some very good chordal work on the piano. The piano then cuts out and then some wierd sounding electric parts come in along with some vocals doing "oohhhs", and of course Elliott's voice. The verse is really not all that special, but the chorus is amazing. Elliott's voice is the best part but all the music fits in around it and makes it something extremely special. Very catchy and inspirational at the same time. This is an absolutely breath taking song, the instrumentation and the vocals just work together in perfect harmony. The verse is good as what it is because it makes the chorus even more special. The song ends with Elliott singing "don't let me get carried away".
Ostriches and Chirping
- Pretty random. Just the sound of some birds (surprise!) chriping. It should have just been added onto the last song as it doesn't really do anything. It just feels odd.
- This is arguably the best song on the album. It's also arguably the best song Elliott has ever done and it's definitely one of the best songs released in 2004. The song uses a simple chord progression and it's the raw emotion in Elliott's voice that really makes the song. During the song, some very nice strings come in. The song has the best lyrics of the album so far, with great lines such as "she's a sight to see, and she's good to me, but i'm already somebody's baby". Just a brilliant song. Absolutely amazing.
A Passing Feeling
- It would have been next to impossible to follow "Twilight", but this song still isn't bad. Elliott's vocals are good, especially his falsetto parts. The guitar riffing in it is nice, but the nicest part is the piano. The drummer does some nice fills in this track as well. The outro is quite good with some good instrumentation. The song isn't bad, but maybe wasn't the best choice to follow "Twilight".
- A stripped down song with just Elliott and an acoustic guitar. Elliott's vocals are beautiful and the guitar riff is very nice as well. Elliott does some excellent falsettos and the high guitar parts are amazing. Great stuff, one of the best tracks on the whole album.
The song starts with a Muse type sound and a guitar part that sounds like "Minerva" by the Deftones. This song is a much more electric song than the last few. It has an electric guitar riff as the main riff and some fairly loud drumming. There are some nice piano parts in the song but the bass line is the best part. It's just very fitting. The piano is probably the second best part. Elliott's voice is good but it doesn't suit this type of song as much as it suits slow acoustic stuff or acoustic rock.
- A cute little song, it sounds like something you'd expect to hear on a children's program. The guitar riff is very nice along with Elliott's vocals. He has some very good parts on this song. The tempo is quite fast, with some excellent lyrics, the most memorable being "your little house on memory lane". Great stuff, one of the best songs on the album. It's only Elliott's voice and acoustic guitar but it's very, very good.
- Lovely song. Starts out with Elliott vocals and piano, then some acoustic leads come in. There are also some strange effects in the background. The song is pretty slow without much other instrumentation which makes it excellent. The song stays pretty much the same all the way through without much instrumentation added at all through it.
A Distorted Reality Is Now A Nessecity To Be Free
- This is probably the best of the really electric songs on the album and a great way to end the album. The song starts with an almost jazzy sounding riff. The first parts of the song are just acoustic, but then it gets into a more electric sound. The lead riff of the song is very good. Elliott's vocals are again the highlight of the song though. It's quite happy and an excellent way to close the album, by leaving it on a high note. A funny part of the song is where Elliott sings "...don't give a fu*k" and then a really high falsetto echoes "fu*k" in an airy and happy sound.
Wow. What a great way to end Elliott's careear! His death was a tragic shock for so many people, but this album celebrate's Elliott's life in a way that's better than anyone could have expected. The packaging is excellent, the art is wonderful and the songs are absolutely amazing. They may not be up to the standard of "Either/Or" or "XO", but remember that Elliott didn't actually finish the album before he did. This is a wonderful way to say goodbye to Elliott.
Goodbye Elliott, we love you and we miss you. RIP.
FINAL RATING: 4/5