Arbouretum Rites of Uncovering

Depending on where you read it, Everclear were either dropped by their previous label, Capitol, or front-man Art Alexakis was fed-up with the major label biz and opted to move back to an independent, Eleven Seven, and do this album (their seventh) grassroots style. Either way, the switch to an indie allowed for room to experiment, and although Welcome to the Drama Club is just as raunchy as any Everclear album, Alexakis seems to finally be tackling the intimidating borders that top 40 alt-rock has become plagued by without reinventing the wheel. Surprisingly, Alexakis is the only founding member remaining in the line-up, yet this offering is more inline with their ’93 debut, Sparkle and Fade, than 2003’s commercial flop, Slow Motion Daydream. Dressing heavy rock-based hits with pop melodies and psychedelic swirls of guitar distortion ("Your Arizona Room,” "Portland Rain”) or incorporating some southern twang into the overdone formula ("Under the Western Stars”), most cuts are still fuelled by his dramatic battles with love. However, first single "Hater” is edgier and catchier than the latest rocker from Nickelback but unfortunately, just as painful. (Thrill Jockey)