Review Summary: Ultra sloppy grunge, memorable tunes, and plenty of forgettable ones.
In late 1992 Art Alexakis moved to Portland after the failure of his band Colorfinger. He posted an ad in the local newspaper for a drummer and a bassist. He found what he was looking for in two kids, named Scott Cuthbert and Craig Montoya. They recorded an EP called Nervous And Weird, followed by the full length World Of Noise. It was not sucessful at all, but set up for the alt rock classic Sparkle And Fade.
Generally a drummer has little effect on a band's sound. Pearl Jam has been through four, but hasn't changed too much because of it. Before Greg Eklund came along, Everclear had a much different kind of drummer. Scott Cuthbert is quite different, instead of just using the snare drum for his fills he goes through many different cymbals and toms. Before Everclear's signature blend of post-grunge and pop style they were basically just a heavy grunge band. Songs like Trust Fund, The Laughing World and Sparkle are really heavy.
The biggest problem with this album is Art Alexakis's abilities as a front man. His guitar playing is brilliant, don't get me wrong, but his lyrics aren't as good as they would be in years to come, and the way he produced this album made it hard to hear what he was saying often. His songwriting style later on was where you could always tell what he was singing about. At this point, you could only make out melodies during the chorus of any song. His best lyrics here are found on Fire Maple Song, Pensylvania Is... and Loser Makes Good. During the first he tells an interesting story of a girl who gets raped by her boyfriend who is sent to prison, then is forced to move out of Pensylvania so she can get an abortion. Loser Makes Good is just plain enjoyable, as is the folky Fire Maple Song.
Upon first listen you will obviously notice something really cool about this album. Craig Montoya's bass playing is spectacular. The way Art produced this album was the bass cranked way up. Just about every song is riding a bass riff. The guitar playing is also really awesome. Art plays it so that it is more of the focus of the music, not necessarily his singing. There aren't really any long solos, just some really cool licks every now and then. I've read that he used a very old, bad amp that kept setting on fire, so I guess this could explain the strange tones.
Basically the only big flaw that you can easily point out is that this album's sound is very sloppy. That's the best word to describe it. You can blame some of it on an enexperianced producer, because, well, the production is bad. This hurts it more than you might think.
If you love Everclear, this would be a good album to buy. Not a good introduction to Everclear, but something worth buying for big fans.