Throughout Everclear's career, frontman Art Alexakis has been known for being one of rock's most personal artists. His songs have frequently looked inward, examining everything from his difficult relationship with his father to his brush with death from a drug overdose when he was 22 to his divorce and remarriage three years ago to Stephanie Greig and his life as a father of a young daughter.
But the group's latest effort, Slow Motion Daydream, represents a notable shift as Alexakis, 40, turns his attention to the world around him, fashioning an album that is easily the most topical work of the band's career.
The song "Blackjack," for instance, deals partly with Attorney General John Ashcroft and what Alexakis views as his abuse of the nation's leading law enforcement position.
"It just seems like John Ashcroft has used the law as a forum for his own political and spiritual beliefs. And that's not what America's about," Alexakis said.
The topical bent of the new CD extends to other songs as well. "TV Show" reflects on a man's desire for the simple, happy-ever-after life of a classic television show. "Sunshine (That Acid Summer)" takes a stab at the dangers of apathy within society. Then there is "New York Times," which attempts to tackle everything from the upheaval in the United States created by events such as the Florida ballot controversy in the 2000 presidential election, the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, the war with Iraq and the need to return to the country's ideals of democracy, equality and fairness.
"This song's for America, because that's the faces I see when I look at the New York Times, when I look on TV," Alexakis said. "I don't just see Republicans or Democrats or black people or white people. I see America. That is more important ... that idea, that dream, is more important to me than anything other than my own family. And it should be for everybody."
If the lyrical territory of Slow Motion Daydream may seem a bit unusual for Everclear, the music on the album will sound familiar enough to fans of the trio, which also includes bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund.
Slow Motion Daydream is the sixth CD by the Portland, Ore.-based band, which formed in 1991, and songs like "I Want To Die A Beautiful Death," "How To Win Friends And Influence People" and "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom" all fit firmly within Everclear's signature blend of surging hard rock sweetened by catchy pop melodies.
Ironically enough, though the Alexakis' lyrics are now much less personal, he thinks the CD reflects more of who he is than any other Everclear record.
"I'm putting more of my personality, more of the flavor of my life into the songs," Alexakis said. "My sense of humor's there. That doesn't always read in some of the earlier work. I think my attitude and aggressiveness and activism is there, and I think even a lot more of my compassion is there. I think I've even, if possible, opened up the nerve even more. I feel like so far it's the closest I've gotten to really showing my heart as a whole."
-- Alan Sculley