Friday 22 January 2021

American Music Club - Shades of Weariness (1985-2008)


Short(ish) bio:
Singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel founded American Music Club in San Francisco in 1983 with guitarist Scott Alexander, drummer Greg Bonnell and bass player Brad Johnson. The band went through many personnel changes before arriving at a stable line up of guitarist Vudi, bassist Danny Pearson, keyboardist Brad Johnson and drummer Matt Norelli. This lineup would change over the next several years, but Eitzel always remained the core of the band in terms of its vocals, lyrics and thematic focus, with Vudi and Pearson accompanying him on guitar and bass.

Their 1985 debut, The Restless Stranger, is widely considered as the first "slowcore" release, establishing the band as major pioneers of the genre and an early influence on post-rock. It was followed by 1987's Engine which saw record producer Tom Mallon as a full-time member. The band earned a solid cult following on the strength of 1988's California and 1989's United Kingdom.

In 1991 American Music Club emerged with the record that is widely considered their masterpiece, Everclear. Critical acclaim attracted the attention of several major labels. Eventually, AMC - then consisting of Eitzel, Vudi, Pearson, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Kaphan and drummer Tim Mooney - signed with Reprise Records in the US and Virgin Records throughout the rest of the world. Mercury followed in 1993 and, despite positive reviews, the album fared poorly on the charts and earned virtually no recognition from radio or MTV. In 1994, AMC issued San Francisco.

The band disbanded soon after San Francisco was released, reuniting in 2003 to record a new album, Love Songs For Patriots, released in 2004. On June 20, 2007, AMC announced a new lineup. Eitzel and Vudi remained, joined by bassist Sean Hoffman and drummer Steve Didelot. AMC's next record, The Golden Age, was released in 2008. Shortly after an extensive tour, the group disbanded and then reformed with a new line-up including Eitzel, Vudi and Steve as well as Dana Schechter on bass and Jonathan Heine on second guitar. This short-lived lineup disbanded for good in 2009.

Here's a band who had more or less slipped my mind, regarding compiling an anthology, despite featuring one of their songs on one of my recent Spaghetti Tree mixes. Once again I have to thank Manerg for introducing me to this band, when he played me their 3rd album "California" which he'd bought soon after it's release. I was pretty much hooked from the first listen, the track Laughingstock standing out for me the most. Manerg and I are both agreed California is our favourite album, maybe because it was the first we heard by them. Or maybe because to us it is a perfect album, not one bad track.

Since my introduction to the band I've bought all their albums before and after California, up to their final (?) album The Golden Age. While the 2 albums after they reunited are both high in quality, they never reached the heights of what were for me their peak period from 1987 to 1993. After California my next favourites are Everclear and Mercury. Also worth checking out are Mark Eitzel's solo albums. I highly recommend his first solo release, Songs of Love, an acoustic performance recorded live at The Borderline in London, England on January 17, 1991, with the exception of the last two tracks which are acoustic studio recordings. Some of his renditions of AMC songs I think are superior to the band versions.

Info containing track origin & year of release is tagged in the music files and in the download file. I hope you enjoy this latest collection, and as always stay safe!

  1. At My Mercy (4:06)
  2. Ex-Girlfriend (2:46)
  3. Firefly (2:50)
  4. In the Shadow of the Valley (6:26)
  5. Tell Yourself (4:02)
  6. Art of Love (3:08)
  7. Dream Is Gone (3:55)
  8. Hollywood 4-5-92 (4:11)
  9. Western Sky (3:26)
10. Home (4:27)
11. Decibels and Little Pills (5:36)
12. Miracle on 8th Street (4:05)
13. I'll Be Gone (3:55)
14. I'm in Heaven Now (3:49)
15. Laughingstock (4:16)
16. The Thorn in My Side Is Gone (alternate version) (4:47)
17. Will You Find Me? (4:06)
18. Heaven of Your Hands (3:00)
19. The Dead Part of You (2:42)
20. Job to Do (5:01)

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