I admit to an unfamiliarity with the band Everclear before plopping this disc, So Much for the Afterglow, into my player. Sure, I'd heard the album's hits "Father of Mine" and "I Will Buy You a New Life" once or twice on the radio, but I didn't know enough about the band to "place" the songs. Now, after listening to this DVD-Audio presentation, I'm a fan.
A surprisingly effective, high-energy rock band with a tendency toward the raw, Everclear also has a softer, gentler, even contemplative side, as evidenced by the bulk of this disc's songs. The band may have ascended to pop stardom on the basis of its screaming guitars, but I find the slower, more lyrical stuff to be more rewarding. Lead singer/songwriter Art Alexakis has an undeniable presence at the microphone and on the lyrics sheet, and to this listener, that presence comes across most powerfully on the more studied tracks of this high-end audio disc—for example, "Everything to Everyone" and "White Men in Black Suits."
I enjoyed the eclectic quality of this three-man group, which introduces a variety of interesting instruments into its aural presentation. Represented strongly across the front of the room—and with careful placement in the rears—screaming strings, yowling horns, punchy drums, keyboards, even banjos complement Alexakis's vocal presence nicely. All this instrumentation is punched up in this disc's impressive surround mix—not in a gimmicky manner but rather with ambient subtlety.
Here's the disc's track listing:
1. So Much For the Afterglow
2. Everything to Everyone
3. Ataraxia (media intro)
4. Normal Like You
5. I Will Buy You a New Life
6. Father of Mine
7. One Hit Wonder
8. El Distorto de Melodica
10. White Men in Black Suits
12. Why I Don't Believe in God
13. Like a California King
HOW'S IT SOUND?
You have three options for your listening pleasure. The track I tested primarily was the DVD-Audio track, which is presented in 48KHz with a 24-bit depth. Many of these songs would have benefited from the higher resolution of 96KHz, considering the aural assault of some of these tunes. That being said, this is a fine effort, with clear highs and a full, rich sound.
I found almost difference between the DVD Audio track and the DTS ES track. At times, the DTS track seems ever-so-slightly enveloping, but I doubt I'd be able to tell the difference in a blind test.
Either track has a natural, smooth feel. Separation is subtle (at least, when compared with many of the more gimmicky mixes out there), throwing background voices and such toward the rear on occasion but mostly devoting the back channels to ambient fullness.
If you're a stereo purist, give the PCM 2.0 track shot.
The disc offers a few extras for those who like visual supplements with their high-end music. You get a Gallery of photos of the band, and you get Music Videos for the songs Father of Mine and Everything to Everyone. There's also a page of Lyrics.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
I'll be watching for more Everclear CDs, because I'm impressed with this band—particularly the surround mixes on this high-end effort. The mixes offer surprising subtlety and power.