[18 May 2008]
“The only criteria I have for doing a cover is that they are great songs and that they sound like Everclear,” claims frontman/sole original member Art Alexakis. Consisting of new and old recordings, The Vegas Years does indeed turn great songs into Everclear records. It’s a spurious conceit, as the classic originals are far superior to even the best Everclear numbers. It’s also a bold move: the respectable sound of a band (or a man) not going gently into oblivion. Alexakis was always more grizzled country singer than pissed-off hard rocker, and the folkier, kitschier numbers (“Night Train to Memphis,” “Land of the Lost”) sit better than the messy, forced rockers. Best of all is “Brown Eyed Girl”, reworked as a touching, tasteful acoustic tribute to Alexakis’s teenage daughter, a vast improvement over the band’s 2001 semi-hit version. Ultimately, Vegas Years is a mildly amusing curiosity, but it aspires to be nothing more.