Elliott Smith - Either/Or
Elliott Smith is arguably the best solo Acoustic Alternative artist of the last 10 years. What seperates Elliott from his peers (Damien Rice, Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake etc) is his extremely obvious Beatles and Beach Boys influence. Elliot could sing some pretty high notes and his harmonies were great. He played acoustic guitar very well, and there was just something about his voice. I can't quite pick up what it was, but there was definitely something about it.
Elliott's first big project was the soundtrack to the film "Good Will Hunting". The soundtrack features some of the tracks off here.
Unfortunatly, Elliott was found dead in 2003, from self inflicted stab wounds. Hopefully, his music will stand the test of time, it's certainly good enough. Elliott had a great ear for a 3 minute pop song. He knew what he could do and what he couldn't do. When he did what he was good at, the results were amazing.
Speed Trials -
The song starts out with a slightly creepy guitar riff, then Elliott's vocals come in along with a cool drum beat that is played on a snare (without the snare things). The song builds up gradually. Elliott's emotional and highish vocals are very, very good in here. His voice sounds really special, I don't know how else to describe it.
A wonderful song, starts out with another slightly creepy riff and then Elliott's vocals come in, along with some quiet backing vocals. The chorus is a nice melody and acoustic and light drumming work well together. A bit into the song, a nice little soloish thing comes in, very nice. The song just continues like normal into the end with a guitar and organ outro.
Ballad Of Big Nothing -
The song gets straight into it. The acoustic guiatr and vocals come in with a pleasant melody until the chorus starts, very pretty sounding with some nice cymbal work from the drummer. The lyrics to this song are also lovely, although it is a little short. It would be nice if it had gone longer, but that's really my only criticism.
Between The Bars
- This song is a little less happy than the last 3 songs. The acoustic guitar in it is very nice. Once the chorus kicks in, you're nearly in heaven, Elliott's high notes on his vocals are superb. The lyrics to this song are also very nice. Elliott and his guitar are the only things in this song and he pulls off a nice sound. If you like this song, see if you can get the orchestral version, featured on Good Will Hunting.
Pictures Of Me
- The poppiest song on the album is also one of the best. Great rhythms between the guitar, drums and organs. The lyrics to it are really great as well. The song sets a nice mood as well. The second verse also has a very good use of an "f" word. Not something that a lot of people manage to pull off. This is probably the album's loudest song, and it's very good. The bass work is also very classy. This is also the album's longest song (3:47).
No Name #5
- Probably the album's most depressing song. The whole sound of it is really pretty dismal, but it's good. The drumming is very effective and the other instrumentation is also great. The vocals are nice, but nothing on here is really as good as the other tracks. On it's own though, this is a great song.
- Another pretty poppy song. The acoustic guitar is cool along with the little acoustic lead part that is added. The coolest part of the song is the build to the chorus. The lyrics are pretty simple, but quite nice. The chorus is a good one as well, with simple lyrics "Won't you follow me down to the rose parade". Overall, a very nice song, that has a happy feel.
Punch and Judy
- In my opinion, this song is the most Beach Boys influenced out of all of them. The opening vocal parts sound like they could have come straight out of the mouth of Brian Wilson. However, the rest of the song is all that happy, it's pretty laid back and slightly depressing. Good guitar and drum parts in here, but Elliott's voice is really where the song shines.
- This song is simply amazing. Easily the best song on the album. The lyrics are amazing and Elliott's voice is filled with emotion and he sings beautifully. An organ comes in part way into the song and Elliott sings a simple "uh huh" line. Amazing. The best part lyrically in when he sings the line "No one's gonna a fool around with us". This song is one of the most amazing songs I've ever heard.
- Quite an eerie song, it sounds like a few things off Jeff Buckley's "Grace" or possibly even a few Radiohead songs. The lyrics are quite good and same with the vocals but the best part are the little lead melodies on the guitar. I think this is one of the lower points of the album, but it's still a very good song.
- Such a beautiful song. My tied favourite song off this record. The melodies are wonderful and Elliott's voice is amazing. The song itself is extremely simple, but Elliott's brilliance lies in his simplicity. The drums come in later and are very pretty.
- My third tied favourite. A wonderful song, the melodies are simply amazing. Elliott's vocals are wonderful, especially his high parts. A very Beatles sounding song with wonderful harmonies. Probably the most Beatles influeced of the record. The song is just amazing, both musically and lyrically. A perfect album closer.
This record is amazing, one of the best I've ever heard. The melodies, instrumentation, vocals and emotional qualities are just wonderful. My only real critisicm is that it's extremely short...coming in at about 37 minutes. THere are small problems throught, but this record is just amazing.
FINAL RATING: 4.85/5