Either/Or (album)

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For the philosophical work by Søren Kierkegaard, see Either/Or.
Either/Or
Studio album by Elliott Smith
Released February 25, 1997
Recorded Several locations (see below)
Genre Indie folk, indie pop, lo-fi indie
Length 37:00
Label Kill Rock Stars
Producer Elliott Smith, Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf
Elliott Smith chronology
Elliott Smith
(1995)
Either/Or
(1997)
XO
(1998)
Singles from Either/Or
  1. "Speed Trials"
    Released: October 1, 1996
  2. "Ballad of Big Nothing"
    Released: June 29, 1998

Either/Or is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. Recorded in several locations mostly in Portland, Oregon while Smith was still in Heatmiser and produced by Smith, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, Either/Or was released on February 25, 1997 through record label Kill Rock Stars following the demise of Heatmiser. Book-ended by the two singles "Speed Trials" and "Ballad of Big Nothing", Either/Or did not chart in the US but was acclaimed by critics.

Following the album's release, Smith would be struck to the forefront of popular culture after performing the song "Miss Misery" at the 1998 Academy Awards, which appeared in the film Good Will Hunting.

Background[edit]

Either/Or was recorded at several locations: Joanna Bolme's house, Elliott Smith's house, Undercover, Inc. and Laundry Rules Recording, all in Portland, Oregon, as well as The Shop in Arcata, California and "Heatmiser House".[1] The album was produced by Smith, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf.[1]

The album's title derives from the Søren Kierkegaard book of the same name,[2] reflecting Smith's interest in philosophy, which he studied at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.[2] The album's style has been described as "a bridge between the lo-fi darkness of Roman Candle and Elliott Smith and the studio sheen of XO and Figure 8."[3]

Release[edit]

The album's first single, "Speed Trials", was released on October 1, 1996.[4] Either/Or was released on February 25, 1997.[5] It did not chart in the US.[6] The album's second and final single, "Ballad of Big Nothing", was released on June 29, 1998.[7]

Smith would be cast into the international spotlight early the following year when he performed his song, the 1997 standalone single "Miss Misery", at the 1998 Academy Awards, following the song's appearance in the major motion picture Good Will Hunting. Following this appearance, Smith was signed to major label DreamWorks and started work on his fourth studio album, XO.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[8]
The A.V. Club A[9]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[10]
Pitchfork 8.8/10[11]
PopMatters very favorable[12]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[13]
Tiny Mix Tapes 5/5 stars[3]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[14]

Either/Or was acclaimed by critics upon its release, placing at number 20 in the 1997 end-of-year Pazz & Jop poll.[15]

In its retrospective review, Tiny Mix Tapes opined: "Simply put, the songs on Either/Or are Elliott Smith's best".[3]

Accolades[edit]

Online magazine Pitchfork ranked Either/Or fifty-ninth in its list of the one-hundred greatest albums of the 1990s.[16] Spin magazine ranked Either/Or at number 48 on its list of the best albums from 1987 to 2012.[17] Blender ranked it thirty-sixth in its "100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Ever" list.[18]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Elliott Smith. 

No. Title Length
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

Personnel[edit]

  • Elliott Smith – all instruments, mixing ("Alameda", "No Name No. 5", "Rose Parade", "2:45 AM")
Technical
  • Joanna Bolme – mixing ("Alameda"), back cover photography
  • Rob Schnapf – mixing ("Speed Trials", "Ballad of Big Nothing", "Between the Bars", "Pictures of Me", "Punch and Judy", "Angeles", "Cupid's Trick", "Say Yes")
  • Tom Rothrock – mixing ("Speed Trials", "Ballad of Big Nothing", "Between the Bars", "Pictures of Me", "Punch and Judy", "Angeles", "Cupid's Trick", "Say Yes")
  • Don (Don C. Tyler) – mastering
  • Neil Gust – sleeve layout
  • Debbie Pastor – front cover photography

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Either/Or (Media notes). Elliott Smith. Kill Rock Stars. 1997. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "UTR – Issue 4". undertheradarmag.com. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Brusie, David (February 27, 2009). "Elliott Smith – Either/Or | DeLorean | Tiny Mix Tapes". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Speed Trials 7" | Kill Rock Stars". killrockstars.bandcamp.com. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Either / Or | Kill Rock Stars". killrockstars.bandcamp.com. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Elliott Smith – Chart History | Billboard". billboard.com. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Ballad of Big Nothing – Elliott Smith : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  8. ^ Cater, Darryl. "Either/Or – Elliott Smith : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Stephen (March 29, 2002). "Elliott Smith: Either/Or | Music | MusicalWork Review | The A.V. Club". avclub.com. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Elliott Smith". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ Schreiber, Ryan (March 1997). "Elliott Smith: Either/Or: Pitchfork Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on June 4, 2003. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  12. ^ Jamieson, Robert (April 30, 2002). "Elliott Smith: Either/Or | PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Elliott Smith: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". rollingstone.com. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  14. ^ http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/1583/Elliott-Smith-Either-Or/
  15. ^ "Robert Christgau: Pazz & Jop 1997: Critics Poll". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. November 17, 2003. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  17. ^ "125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years | Spin | Best of Spin | Spin Era". spin.com. February 15, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Blender's 100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever – Stereogum". Stereogum. November 14, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]