Portland's Everclear is the most successful of the post-grungesters when it comes to being a household name. Formed in Portland in 1991, Everclear hit the turbo boost button and made short work of any possible contemporaries in 1995 with Sparkle and Fade. Not that the key ingredients are anything fancy: grinding, crunchy guitars littered with catchy punk-pop riffs and an occasional flirtation with the blues. Their stranglehold on the charts exists because singer/guitarist Art Alexakis' gritty vocals and personal, emotionally charged lyrics take center stage to the music. Is it grunge? Is it pop? Never mind. The band's stock lies in their empathetic storytelling. To wit: "Father of Mine" recounts Alexakis' anger at being deserted by his father, and "Fire Maple Song" deals with the loss of his brother to heroin (not to mention the singer's own battle with drug addiction). On this cut, Everclear serve up "unloved, American style," with a muscular take on the Smiths' classic mope anthem.
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