90s west coast rawness rages back.
When a band achieves legendary status, regardless of their respective scene or stylistic niche, there tends to be a heightened interest behind just what made and continues to make said icons tick. Where did they come from? How did they begin? What were they doing during the lead up to their eventual success? In the specific case of California turned Portland, Oregon resident Art Alexakis, best known as the guitarist and front man of the latter locale’s hit 90s act Everclear, the modus-operandi behind his sonic craft was almost as misunderstood as it was appreciated, with the punk influences and image of their early material often winning them comparisons to Nirvana and the concurrent Seattle scene. But more discerning minds would note that while the influence of The Pixies, The Replacements, X and older rock icons such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Elvis Costello may have been held in common, even the rawer beginnings of Everclear’s sound were taking things in a socially critical yet far less morose direction in line with an orthodox outgrowth of punk rock.
That’s the best way to really describe this Portland trio’s 1993 debut album “World Of Noise,” the raw beginnings of a sound that became a darling of the alternative scene largely because it was yet another alternative. At a surface level, some parallels to the earlier 90s Seattle sound could be gleaned from the lower fidelity character of the original master, which was produced on a shoe-string budget of $400 and featured a screaming guitar tone due to a blown 6L6 tube in the Fender Super Twin amplifier employed by Alexakis for the recording. But once the smoother, almost Brian Wilson-like swagger of Art’s interpretation of a punk vocal performance are brought into consideration, along with the generally raucous yet upbeat vibes put forth by the band’s collective instrumental performance, it becomes a little easier to see how this same band would deliver up fun yet lyrically deep anthems such as “Santa Monica” and “Heartspark Dollarsign” on their 1995 breakthrough follow up “Sparkle And Fade.”
The famed Dora Diamond quote from 2000 flick Loser of this outfit being “Self-Loathing complaint rock that you can dance to” even held true well before Alexakis and company adopted a more power pop motif for the music featured in said movie. Right from the opening ring of the mid-paced banger and opener “Your Genius Hands” their affinity for the retro-trappings of The Beatles rides along with the tinny guitar chords and whimsical groove of the rhythm section, which could easily inspire a hardened cynic to move his feet while contemplating the less pleasant aspects of life. More distorted romps like “Sick & Tired” and “The Laughing World” also betray a smooth sense of melody and some infectious hooks to go with the tortured screams of the guitars and the chaotic mix of the bass and drums, though the re-mastering work helps to mitigate the rawness factor for those who took more to this outfit’s better known works. Throw into the mix a few lighter and slower rocking tracks like “Fire Maple Song” and “Malevolent” to go along with vintage punk crushers like “Nervous & Weird” and “Invisible”, and an impressive multifaceted package from a group of green upstarts basically foretells of future conquests.
Given that this revived first venture into grain alcohol-themed punk rock with an alternative twist is presented largely as a boon for core fans, it comes chock full of enough extras to qualify as a bonus EP. Interestingly enough, the band’s classic punk proclivities are even more blatant on these leftover demo tracks, and also present the trio at their heaviest. It’s tough not to head bang to the punchy power of “Drunk Again”, which also features some of Art’s more intricate, yet still naturally sloppy and scream-happy guitar work. Things then proceed to reach back into that curious world where west coast punk and surf rock cohabitate on the instrumental jam “Pacific Wonderland”, to the point of sounding like the baby that The Beach Boys and X could have had. Other standout moments to behold amid these reclaimed odes to early 90s angst with a slightly slicker polish include the coasting rocker “Detroit” and the almost new wave vibes of the first laid back then angry “1975”.
For those who came of age during the days of Bill Clinton’s saxophone toting exploits and the rise and fall of Paulie Shore, it feels strange to consider that 30 years has passed since one of the west coast’s premier alternative rock acts began their ascent. In this current craze of single-oriented electro-pop and hip hop drivel, an old guard rock band of Everclear’s pedigree may seem a relic from a bygone era, but the de facto time capsule of early strides by the Portland trio that has since become a quartet of almost entirely different players save for Alexakis himself that is “World Of Noise” has a relevant ring to it. It may speak more clearly to the surviving stock of Generation X who recalls how their Boomer parents were prone to absentee status, but its sense of sonic danger should be able to rope in a few younger punk trustees who could use some exposure to a more organic and less processed original. Life has a way of happening to people, some simply choose to write a few good songs about it and inspire others to better cope with it.
Everclear is currently on their 30th Anniversary Tour with special guests Fastball and The Nixons. Check out the full itinerary HERE.
Released By: Shindig Retro
Release Date: June 10th, 2022
Genre: Alternative Rock
“World Of Noise [30th Anniversary Edition]” track-list:
- Your Genius Hands
- Sick & Tired
- The Laughing World
- Fire Maple Song
- Pennsylvania Is…
- Nervous & Weird
- Trust Fund
- Loser Makes Good
- Drunk Again (previously unreleased bonus track)
- Pacific Wonderland (bonus track)
- Blondes (bonus track)
- Detroit (bonus track)
- 1975 (bonus track)
- Nervous & Weird 2001 Remix (previously unreleased bonus track)
- Art Alexakis / Vocals, guitar
- Davey French / Guitar
- Freddy Herrera / Bass
- Brian Nolan / Drums
“World Of Noise [30th Anniversary Edition]” can be ordered in various formats here.
Recalling the most primitive and humble beginnings of what became a mainstay of the 90s alternative scene, punk rocking Californian turned Portland resident Art Alexakis delivers up Everclear’s illusive debut to the digital world with a fresh coat of paint and a few previously unheard add-ons