Songs from an American Movie, Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile

( 17 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jon Wiederhorn
On Songs from an American Movie Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile, mainstream alt rockers Everclear approach things Ice Cube-style. No, front man Art Alexakis isn't sporting a badass posse or spittin' lyrics about gang-bangin' though he does rap on "AM Radio". It's just that Everclear have chosen to release their latest musical project in two parts, as Cube did with his opus War & Peace. The first installment of Songs from an American Movie -- alleged to be the poppier of the two -- is a summery rock album filled with jangly guitars, raspy vocals, and trad rock rhythms that recall Tom Petty or John Mellencamp. Fortunately, Everclear stay out of retroville by updating ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jon Wiederhorn
On Songs from an American Movie Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile, mainstream alt rockers Everclear approach things Ice Cube-style. No, front man Art Alexakis isn't sporting a badass posse or spittin' lyrics about gang-bangin' though he does rap on "AM Radio". It's just that Everclear have chosen to release their latest musical project in two parts, as Cube did with his opus War & Peace. The first installment of Songs from an American Movie -- alleged to be the poppier of the two -- is a summery rock album filled with jangly guitars, raspy vocals, and trad rock rhythms that recall Tom Petty or John Mellencamp. Fortunately, Everclear stay out of retroville by updating their sound with electronic percussion, braying horns, gliding strings, and even DJ scratching. "Now That It's Over" starts with the opening beat from the Beastie Boys' "Rhymin' and Stealin'" before dissolving into a hook-filled breakup song that chronicles the dissolution of Alexakis's marriage much of the record follows suit."Here We Go Again" could be an homage to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," and "AM Radio" sounds like the Barenaked Ladies crossed with Beck and Wild Cherry. As imagistic and inviting as Songs from an American Movie Vol. 1 is, none of the tunes have the propulsive charge of "Heroin Girl" or "So Much for the Afterglow." Perhaps Everclear are saving another batch of charged-up rockers for Vol. 2.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
If the two-part title weren't enough of a tip-off, let's make this clear: Songs from an American Movie, Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile is a concept album, based on Everclear leader Art Alexakis' divorce. Many pop musicians have mined this territory before, but Alexakis pulls off an ingenious move by dividing his divorce album in two parts and two records, separating falling in love from the fallout. Learning How to Smile is the courtship album, painting a picture of when everything was wonderful. He goes back further than that, returning to his childhood, specifically the sparkling, catchy late-'60s and '70s pop that provided the soundtrack to his coming of age. It's all innocent, from the sounds and melodies to the aesthetic; at first, it's hard to tell that this music was made in the wake of a divorce. As the album unfolds, certain themes of regret, sadness, and longing run to the surface, but they're all coated in glittering pop melodies and big rock riffs that mask the emotions of the songs. And, make no mistake, Alexakis is digging deep into his psyche, especially at the end of the record as the romance begins to fall apart. What makes Learning How to Smile work -- and an album this ambitious could easily have collapsed under its own weight -- is that the songs are strong and smart and are given savvy productions that make them sound even smarter. Very few of Everclear's peers could have pulled off an album that skillfully balances such an arty concept with such strong, strikingly revealing songs. Songs from an American Movie, Vol. 1 is the band's best, most consistent effort to date -- and certainly whets the appetite for the sequel.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/11/2000
  • Label: Capitol
  • UPC: 724349706149
  • Catalog Number: 97061

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Everclear Primary Artist
Frank Capp Musician
Bruce Dukov Musician
Richard Altenbach Musician
Mathew Cooker Musician
Brandon Fields Saxophone
Chuck Findley Trumpet
Jim Hughart Musician
Patricia Johnson Musician
Dennis Karmazyn Musician
Nick Lane Trombone
Carole Mukogawa Musician
Jack Nimitz Musician
Katia Popov Musician
Harry Shirinian Musician
Petra Haden Background Vocals
Lars Fox Percussion, Background Vocals, Loops
Craig Montoya Bass, Mandolin, Percussion, Background Vocals
JoAnn Kane Musician
Art Alexakis Banjo, Guitar, Percussion, Steel Guitar, Vocals
William Motzing Musician
Dan Newfeld Musician
Jacqueline Suzuki Musician
Greg Eklund Percussion, Drums, Vocals, Background Vocals
Rachel Purkin Musician
Vage Ayrikyan Musician
Kendall Payne Background Vocals
Louise di Tullio Musician
Raymond Tischer Musician
Technical Credits
Neal Avron Producer, Engineer, Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
Mort Lindsey String Arrangements
Charles Paakkari Engineer
Al Schmidt Engineer
Lars Fox Producer
Mauricio Iragorri Engineer
Craig Montoya Composer
Art Alexakis Composer, Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
Josh Turner Engineer
Greg Eklund Composer
Perry Watts-Russell Executive Producer
David Bryant Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Worst everclear cd

    I am a huge everclear fan and I love all of the cd's except this one. The cd is way too slow and boring. Everclear needs to stick to what there good at.... ROCK. Songs from an american movie volumn two is awesome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    ive become a learned man in smiling

    this album is well good, im definitely glad that i bought it but i hasnt got the edge over sparkle and fade, so much for the afterglow cos its all mellow, i know thats the purpose an all but the good thing bout ec is that they also jam, like heroin girl, so much for the afterglow, electra made me blind, etc. so im looking forward to the next album which hasnt been released here yet cos thatll even it all up and make them both awesome albums im sure, cos ec rule.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

    I was very excited to have gotten this Cd, having listened to Wonderful and AM Radio on one of our local Rock Stations. I was surprised when I heard it, the CD just didn't mean anything and it was worth absolutley nothing! The singer guy just gets boring after a while, yet I still got to listen to AM Radio and Wonderful, the best songs on the album.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Everclear

    Everclear is arguably the best band in which all band members are over the age of 35

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Everclear

    Everclear is the best group I have ever heard, and I'm a 27-year-old law school graduate. They sound like nothing else out there, and while I havn't had much time to hear all their albums, the singer's voice (sorry, I don't know his name), is so unreal I'm sure I'll love every album. The only one I've heard is SO MUCH FOR THE AFTERGLOW.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This Album Is Solid

    Everclear continues to progress musically, albeit slowly, and Art's grasp on how to put an album together continues to get tighter. From the simple but awesome opener, ''Song From An American Movie, Pt.1'', to the alomost tounge-in-cheek ''The Honeymoon Song'' to ''Unemployed Boyfriend'', Everclear continues variations on a simple formula that always sounds familiar, yet never repetitive. A true mark of excellence, though, is the wonderful (no pun intended) cover of Van Morrisson's ''Brown Eyed Girl''. If you can cover a catchy, classic pop song, and make it sound like your own, you have done something. Everclear knows what they are doing, and I hope Art's ex-wife isn't too mad (''Now That It's Over'').

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    EVERCLEAR RULES ALL AGAIN

    After many years of not having any real action going on they finally came out with an album worthy of being called one of the best ever. If you don't like their past music I tell you this, you'll like them now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    They have done it again!!!!

    I love this album...it is so easy to relate to the songs, especially Now That it's Over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Definatly one of the best CD's I've ever heard!

    This CD is great! It's a lot softer than most of Everclear's older stuff, but it's actually better! These songs deal with stuff from the heart and the music should appeal to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Thank God for Everclear

    With the current stranglehold the record companies have on the music business and their decision to release so few new artists, thank God bands like Everclear and Cake are putting out good music. I liked this album the first time I listened to it, which is rare for me. ''Wonderful'' gets the radio play now in July 2000, but ''AM Radio'' could be the catchiest tune on the album. I look forward to Part II coming out in a few months.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the best CD's of the summer

    This has been one of the best CD i've heard this summer. Wonderful is my favorite song, i can defnitely relate to it. The whole album has a meloncholy feel which is different from their first.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    everclear is everclear

    i think this album still reminds me of so much for the afterglow so im giving everclear a two thumbs up! they will always be one of my favorite bands.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Come see the softer side of Everclear

    After the release of 1997 smash hit So Much For the Afterglow, true Ec fan you will enjoy this album.Its much more melodic than anything Everclear has ever done.But its still has that EC feel.I loved all the songs except for 'The Honeymoon song'.I mean its was nice of Art to give Greg a chance to get up to the mike,but not to put on the album. Art is the lead singer for a reason.My faves so far are 'Unemployed Boyfriend' and 'Otis Redding'.Art has really dug deep..into himself. and his feelings for his his ex-wife (Now that its Over).The high point of the CD in my eyes was the sweeping remake of The B-side 'Annabella's Song'.Overall the album is great and again Art has put togther a great album.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Everclear's New CD Brings Different Sound but we like

    This CD is different than the Everclear sound you may be used to but true ec fans will adore this album like we do all others.Included on it is their latest single 'Wonderful' which is among my favorites(along with 'Unemployed Boyfriend')...Most will enjoy!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    ''Songs'' Keeps You Coming Back For More

    ''Songs From an American Movie'' is one of those albums that gets better every time you listen to it, and every time you listen to it you notice something you missed the last time. While ''Wonderful'' and ''AM Radio'' are being marketed as the singles, ''Unemployed Boyfriend'' made me sit up and listen more than almost any other tune on the disc. Unlike ''So Much for the Afterglow,'' which hit you square between the eyes with each cut, this one sneaks up on you. If it doesn't hit you the first time, give it another spin -- or better yet, two.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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