Elliott Smith - Either/Or (Expanded Edition)
(Kill Rock Stars)

Long considered the high water mark in a near perfect discography, Elliott Smith’s Either/Or is the culmination of Smith’s work with Heatmiser and his 2 solo LPs on Kill Rock Stars. While he would soon sign with Dreamworks and achieve national recognition playing the Oscars, Either/Or is most closely associated with his days in the Pacific northwest and his depression and disillusion with the music industry following his time with Heatmiser. It can be a harrowing listen, but Either/Or is beautifully arranged with Smith’s impeccable finger-picking and sweeping double tracked vocals playing a major role. Every song feels like a standout. “Ballad of Big Nothing” is as catchy as anything he ever wrote while “Alameda” recalls Portland with a rainy-day ambiance and shuffling rhythms. With this 20th anniversary expanded edition, Kill Rock Stars includes five live tracks from 1997 along with three previously unreleased studio songs. One of these tracks, “I Figured You Out,” was omitted by Smith, saying it sounded too much like the Eagles and handing it over to Mary Lou Lord to record, but it sounds welcome here with a toy Yamaha organ and some beautiful electric work augmenting Smith’s arresting melody. (Dom)
Check out a track here.