The past two decades have been hugely eventful for Everclear frontman Art Alexakis. The California native has been married four times, seen a rotating cast of bandmates and even dabbled with an acting career.
Yet many will point to the 1997 release of Everclear's So Much for the Afterglow as his greatest accomplishment. The hit-packed power-pop record took Alexakis from one-hit wonder to modern rock headliner. Thanks to a more polished production featuring a range of non-punk rock instrumentation such as violin, cello, mandolin and a Wurlitzer organ, the band soared.
The double platinum-selling album didn't come anywhere close to the top of the album charts after its debut. But thanks to another staple of the late '90s, MTV's Total Request Live, the band stayed relevant on the power of its undeniable singles. The videos for "Everything to Everyone," "I Will Buy You a New Life" and "Father of Mine" were unavoidable on television and radio. The relatively straight-forward storytelling, ripped from Alexakis's own real life experiences, lent a sincerity that dug deeper than most pop hits of the time while being just hard-charging enough to keep the group's rock base pleased.
Twenty years ago, the headline-grabbing releases were either British (Verve Pipe, Blur), somber and serious (Radiohead, Notorious BIG) or cotton candy fluff (Spice Girls, Hanson). It's worth noting that a couple of revered Dallas records also made 1997 debuts: Erykah Badu's Baduizm and the Old 97's Too Far to Care.
But Everclear, along with Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, Blink-182 and Green Day, found a catchy crossroads where punk and pop skillfully intertwined in records that still sound fresh today.
Before Everclear performs at Lava Cantina in The Colony on May 23, let's revisit some albums that, like So Much for the Afterglow, were great albums 20 years ago and are still today.
Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
Inspired by his 1996 divorce, Dave Grohl followed up his post-Nirvana project's debut album by unapologetically heading into arena-rock glory, eschewing his grunge and punk roots. The first Foo Fighters record to feature the band members playing their own parts offered rock radio staples including "Monkey Wrench," "Everlong" and "My Hero."
Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
Similar to Everclear's 1997 record, the debut album from San Francisco's Third Eye Blind didn't dominate the album charts upon its release, though it's now sold millions of copies. The MTV-friendly singles, "Jumper," and especially the movie trailer staple "Semi-Charmed Life," would be just as popular as new songs today as they were then.
Blink-182 - Dude Ranch
Before the celebrated trio was a festival headliner, it was a sophomoric punk crew that knew its way around simple but searing melodies. The album's standout single, "Dammit," offered a silly but sincere take on the awkward frustrations of growing up. It showcased a foundation for the multitude of mega-hits the group would soon deliver.
Green Day - Nimrod
Unlike the others on this list, Green Day was a blockbuster name before its 1997 album hit shelves. And more than the others on this list, Green Day stretched its pop muscles beyond its snotty origins by introducing the gorgeously reflective, acoustic "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)."
Everclear performs with Vertical Horizon and Fastball for its So Much for the Afterglow 20th anniversary tour on May 23 at 7 p.m. at Lava Cantina, 5805 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony. Details here.