I’m sitting here on a train across rural Switzerland, passing green prairies with cows and sheep, and just pushed play on Everclear’s 2000 album release Songs From An American Movie, Vol. 2: Good Time For A Bad Attitude. The music transports me instantaneously to the world of Everclear, which is defined by intense sounds, moody harmonies, and aggressive riffs. Just my kind of alternative rock music.
The album was released on November 21, 2000, only a few months after its prequel. It was recorded at the legendary Sunset Sound studios, produced by Everclear’s Art Alexakis, and the songs are apparently loosely based around Art’s second divorce.
The album starts with a typical, energetic and melodic alternative rock song. To me, the distorted bass sound stands out most on When It All Goes Wrong Again. Some parts of the song are defined by grungy distortions or uncoordinated guitar feedbacks. Personally, I find it the perfect song to start Songs From An American Movie, Vol. 2: Good Time For A Bad Attitude.
Slide, track 2, continues in the same mood. The song is a bit more straight-forward than the opener, even though it flows into a more (planned,) chaotic arrangement in the middle of the song. I really like the telephone-voice effect on the voice in the verses.
Track 3, Babytalk, is defined by Art’s talk-singing – not rap, talk-singing – and the darker mood of the song, which is underlined by a meaner guitar riff. This is the perfect mosh-song at gigs.
Rock Star was for many years the anthem to my life, especially when ‘I’ was trying to become a rock star – cough. The song starts with the line, “I don’t want to be a loser, I don’t want to be a white trash working class chump…” and somewhen it says, “That’s why I want to be a Rock Star… I want to be famous, I want to be the guy that everybody wants.” The song was used for the movie Rock Star starring Mark Wahlberg, where a no-name musician becomes a rock star, but eventually finds out that fame comes with a heavy price tag. This is still one of my favourite rock songs ever, hence the song that makes the album a must have for all lovers of rock music.
Short Blonde Hair, track 5, is something like a half-ballad, even though the song is laden with a lot of energy. Nonetheless, the mood of the song radiates less aggressiveness but more melancholy. A welcomed shift in gear and good bridge to the next song.
Track 6, Misery Whip, gives the impression to be defined by its intro that includes acoustic and (rather) clean guitars. However, the song kicks in at 0:50 with heavy drums and a fat bass to bring the listener back to the given musical concept of the album: energetic and aggressive heartbreak songs. The line, “When we are all alone in this house we call home, you will become my misery whip” gives a good idea of how Art must have felt during the break-up. Heavy stuff here, but another excellent song.
Out Of My Depth, is – as we could expect – another alternative grunge song in the same vain like the previous 6 songs, but stands out with the first actual guitar solo of the album, towards the end of the song, and a whistle intermezzo that brings a refreshing facet to the album.
The Good Witch Of The North is the actual first ballad on the album. It features a violin and atmospheric synthesiser and guitar sounds, and the line “I swear I’m going to marry you someday” stuck with me, because of its apparent sincerity. The song is a clever ballad that brings, again, a new facet to the album, but makes complete sense in terms of sound, mood, and concept of the album. Truly beautiful.
Halloween Americana is an instrumental alternative rock song that can stand perfectly on its feet in any context, also without flashy solos or lyrics.
The music to track 10, All F**ked Up, depicts exactly what the title suggests. The song might be the fastest on the record and the lyrics don’t include more words than the ones in the title. In my humble opinion the song is perfectly placed after Halloween Americana and before the next song.
Overwhelming is the second half-ballad of the album and a anthem for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed by a nasty relationship. The lines, “You said you’d love me forever and then you spit on me” and “I don’t want to be your whipping boy… I’m not gonna let you kick me anymore” are symbolic of the song – and, actually, of the whole album. The melody and harmonies of the song inspire hope in better times and, I can imagine, give comfort to people who might be in the same situation that Art was in. Another favourite of mine on this masterpiece.
The album ends with the title track of the record, Songs From An American Movie Pt. 2. In my ears, the song recounts the story of the album in terms of music and lyrics. The arrangements show the energy and melancholy that go hand in hand during the whole album, and the line “The sound of the little girl laughing makes me happy just to be alive…” closes the album with the nicest message ever, inspiring hope and faith to anyone who’s already given up. Great ending of the album, I take a bow.
Songs From An American Movie, Vol. 2: Good Time For A Bad Attitude is rougher, in regard to music and lyrics, than its prequel. Nonetheless, it’s the perfect continuation from an album that is less dark. Personally, I prefer Part 2 to Part 1, because of its darker mood and aggressive energy. In addition, it feels more emotional than Part 1. The production and the sound of the record follows a clear concept, but never feels drab or uninspired. Kudos to Art Alexakis for an excellent production. Also, big kudos to the whole band, including Craig Montoya and Greg Eklund, who wrote 12 superb alternative grunge songs.
According to different sources, all lyrics are based on Art’s second divorce, which becomes obvious once the listener pays close attention to them. It’s great to find a certain dynamic coming from the meaning of the lyrics. It’s not all doom and gloom, but the lyrics portray all facets that a couple can encounter before, during, and after a break-up.
This is definitely an alternative rock masterpiece and the CD has been spinning a lot in my CD player ever since I got the record in late 2000. Everclear created a classic that accompanied me during different stages of my early 20s to this day. True emotions spiked with raw energy and intense melancholy.
Total grade 9.25/10