Art Alexakis is pissed. But, instead of sitting around whining about it, he forms a great band and rants about it in song...and quite well, too. Everclear came on as the post-grunge/post-punk hard rock band for the intelligent headbanger...the thinking man's Greenday, or Blink 182, if you will. Mr. Alexakis deserves alot of credit for alot of reasons. He successfully overcame a nasty cocaine problem, cleaned up, straightened up, and was then able to display his ambition to be somebody, to change things, within and without. In addition to being a fine singer and a writer of excellent topical songs, he's a genius businessman. With everything one can think of stacked against him, he overcame all situations and showed the suits a thing or two about how it should, and could, be done. Art Alexakis is a realist, and very good at expressing it.
1995's 'Sparkle and Fade' made a decent dent in things with the hit "Santa Monica", but it was 1997's great 'So Much for the Afterglow' that jump-started Everclear's career with the major hits "Everything to Everyone", "I Will Buy You a New Life" and "Father of Mine". Unlike the '95 disc, 'So Much for the Afterglow' introduced a plethora of new sounds that the band's peers steered away from. Alexakis began using the studio to try more experimental sounds mixed in with his post-grunge/punk formula: Beatles-like sound experiments with different instruments, Beach Boys-like harmonies, and the expert use of dynamics, making for a much more layered, textured sound that set Everclear apart from all comers at the time. Oh yeah, and one other thing...Alexakis' lyrical abilities were unmatched by even his closest rivals. Art Alexakis is a very smart man, in more ways than one. (I'd love to know his MENSA standing.)
Because of the aforementioned qualities, Everclear's 'So Much for the Afterglow' comes across much better in hi-res than most hard rock discs, which lack the necessary textures and dynamics to make a slab of sound much more than a slab of sound, no matter how hi the res. 'So Much for the Afterglow' is not a great sounding DVD-A, relative to all DVD-As, but relative to the numerous hard rock DVD-As I've heard, it is very good. This is one of those instances where the hi-res (DVD-A or SACD) version of an album actually changes one's impression...making it seem an even better album than it already was.
The disc is comprised of three layers: DVD-A (5.1) mixed at 48Khz/24 bit surround, DTS-ES (6.1) at 48Khz/24 bit surround, and PCM at 48Khz/16 bit stereo. (Just as Porcupine Tree's 'in absentia' DVD-A, this disc will sound just as good on a DTS- capable DVD player as it does on a DVD-A player - head's up, you who have been thinking about trying surround sound!) Now, the CD of this album sounds pretty darned good, so the PCM stereo layer isn't much of an improvement, if any. It's the DVD-A and DTS-ES surround layers that shine here. (Don't get excited about the DTS-ES 6.1 - the disc sounds like a good 5.1 mix. The rear speaker doesn't really add anything.) Extras include on-screen lyrics and two videos (both in surround!), one for "Everything to Everyone" and one for "Father of Mine".
In general, the bass, drums and lead vocals are all anchored up front. The use of rear surrounds is sometimes subtle, sometimes balls-to-the-wall. The disc is, relatively, still a bit compressed (which, for hard rock, is not necessarily a bad thing), not quite as open or transparent as the best DVD-As or SACDs. The title track intros with beautiful Beach Boys homage harmonies, then the post-punk crunch kicks in. The guitars bleed to the rears, and the backing harmonies are planted there. "Everything to Everyone" really opens up here, with some percussion, slide guitar and harmonies in the L/R surrounds. "I Will Buy You a New Life" ("never had the joy of a welfare Christmas"...I love that line!) uses the front and rears to great effect. Nice envelopment here. "Father of Mine" brings huge CRUNCH...great use of dynamics and the surrounds are used more agressively. The instrumental "El Distorto de Melodica" is heavy metal w/o the metal - rather a more polite bludgeoning, with a sweet, distorted attack...not flashy, just a big noise-groove with nice opposite corner pans thrown in here and there. "White Men in Black Suits" turns out to be eerily prescient..."they are the new machines", indeed. Never more true than present-day!
Although 'So Much For the Afterglow' lacks the last word in openess and transparency, relative to most hard rock albums I've heard in hi-res, it is mixed quite well. Everclear's use of dynamics opens many a soft spot for little things like backing vocals, percussion, steel guitar, and the like to be placed in the rear surround speakers nicely. And when it's time to crunch, you get crunch from all sides...there will be no doubt. Some unexpected pans to opposite corners are very well done. Because the CD is recorded so well, not many hidden bits are revealed on DVD-A, but the overall effect is very pleasing and adds to the enjoyment of an already fine album. Having the two videos in surround sound is great icing on the cake. Recommended.
Release Date: November 4, 2004
Tracks: 13 - Time: 48:41
Produced by: Perry Watts-Russell / Jeff Levison
Format: DVD-Audio / DTS 5.1
So Much for the Afterglow / Everything to Everyone / Ataraxia (Media Intro) / Normal Like You / I Will Buy You a New Life / Father of Mine / One Hit Wonder / El Distorto de Melodica / Amphetamine / White Men in Black Suits / Sunflowers / Why I Don't Believe in God / Like a California King / Father of Mine (Video) / Everything to Everyone (Video).
Art Alexakis - Guitar / Vocals
Greg Eklund - Drums
Craig Montoya - Bass