1997, Music

Either-Or (1997) by Elliott Smith

The problem with hype is that it makes you have expectations that can never be met. And, for some reason, the the death of someone just makes this so much worse, but in retrospect. Once a beloved musician dies, everything they ever made becomes a masterpiece and must be held up as proof as the dead musician’s genius that was cut short by their death. Etc.

I have been hearing about how amazing Elliott Smith is for probably 15 years. Fortunately for my expectations, I have been hearing less of that in the last 5-10 than in the first 5. Had I listened to this when my friends were telling me I absolutely had to listen to him back in university, I’m pretty sure I would have hated this. Like absolutely hated it.

I don’t hate it, by any means. Smith is a strong songwriter though not a great singer – though he definitely could have been, and I understand his unwillingness to do that is part of the appeal – and he’s obviously talented musically given his ability to play all the instruments.

I guess the thing that really surprised me most is how conventional this all is. I hear that it’s lo fi – it’s lo fi relative only to mainstream radio, I mean compare this to late ’80s Sebadoh or Ween, now that’s lo fi – and I hear how “indie” it is but just about all the idiosyncrasy I am expecting from lo fi indie is not here. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means maybe don’t tell people this guy is the greatest.

He’s a strong songwriter, but this is pretty middle of the road stuff and I like things a little more in left field.


  1. “Speed Trials” 3:01
  2. “Alameda” 3:43
  3. “Ballad of Big Nothing” 2:48
  4. “Between the Bars” 2:21
  5. “Pictures of Me” 3:46
  6. “No Name No. 5” 3:43
  7. “Rose Parade” 3:28
  8. “Punch and Judy” 2:25
  9. “Angeles” 2:56
  10. “Cupid’s Trick” 3:04
  11. “2:45 AM” 3:18
  12. “Say Yes” 2:19

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