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Elliot Smith
From A Basement On The Hill
by: Sun-J

From A Basement On The Hill is a posthumous album from Elliot Smith, who tragically took his own life last year. Released as one final album from the man who defined emotion, the indie rockers last thoughts live on through his music. Fifteen tracks of depression and cryptic visions disguised underneath subtle metaphors crowd the afterthought of one of them most genuine artists in indie rock. His 2000 release, Figure 8 was introspective, however lacked the compassion of his previous works. After a fall out with his label, he split ways with Dreamworks and longtime engineer Rob Schampf. From then on, Smith began recording in LA with super producers such as Jon Brion and David McConnell. From A Basement On The Hill at times reads like a suicide notes, and is filled with so-called "clues" if you are looking for them. "Coast to Coast" tops the album and will shock fans alike with its dizzying, sunny guitar melody. "Let's Get Lost" features Smith belting in tenor while "Pretty (Ugly Before)" encompasses what we all have felt at one point, "Sunshine, been keeping me up for days, there is no night time, it's only a passing phase, and I feel pretty, pretty enough for you, I felt so ugly before, I didn't know what to do..." "Don't Go Down" is wonderfully layered with a Pink Floyd guitar vibe as Smith croons of a love interest, "Her mama called me a thief, and her dad called himself commander and chief, I fought him off with my love, but I knew the sense of worthlessness she would have to rise above." "Strung Out Again" is a very inspiring number about facing the biggest fear, your own self consciousness; "Just looking in the mirror, will make you a brave man." "Fond Farewell" is an obvious suicide reference and is displays one of Smith's strengths, to avoid a specific chorus and instead continue to lull the listener along with heartfelt lyricism. "Twilight" and "The Last Hour" utilize very little instrumentation, reminiscent of Smith's Either/Or album. "Shooting Star" is layered with several guitars but perhaps boasts the best riffs while "Memory Lane" is a deviant trip through the mind of Elliot Smith ("The mayor's name is fear, his force patrols the pier, by a mountain up of clich?...), ironically along with upbeat guitar.

From A Basement On The Hill finds Smith experimenting with multifaceted instrumentation, a clear sign of progression into bigger and better studios. The album is very warm at times, yet his eerie lyrics can send a shiver down your spine. Smith was a very talented lyricist, and although XO will remain has his greatest standing work to date, fans of Bright Eyes may find justice through this album.



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