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Album of the Week #5: Either/Or

Culture

Sadie Jackson

November 2, 2022

Released on February 25, 1997, Elliott Smith’s Either/Or comes in at just under thirty-seven minutes long. As his third solo album and first following the dissolution of Portland rock band Heatmiser, its twelve tracks embody his voice— raw, rough, and resilient— as it was before he signed a contract with DreamWorks Records. The album, loaded with symbolism and themes, connected deeply with his audience and Either/Or became his best-selling album. As Elliott Smith was a philosophy major in college, Either/Or’s title is a direct reference to Søren Kierkegaard’s book of the same name. The album was recorded, alongside Mic City Sons, throughout 1995 and 1996 in a makeshift studio called The Heatmiser House on SE Ankeny at 20th Avenue in Oregon. Heatmiser’s Mic City Sons was more subdued than their earlier work and bridged to the subtlety of Either/Or. Elliott Smith juxtaposed his introspective lyrics with dynamic chord progressions and...

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