Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. In a interview with Melody Maker , Elliott Smith told a story from his childhood. Immediately, he is transfixed by the power of the remote control: This button makes the sound burst from the speaker and this one silences it. This button makes the screen change, each time reopening to a new world, while this one shuts it off entirely. He is delighted by the collage of faces and voices and sound and possibility until the inevitable happens: the TV breaks. He soon learned to seek the same thrill in music.
Listen to “Some Song” From New Archival Elliott Smith Live Album
Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. June 11 February 19 February 12 September 6 Musicians who aren't afraid of being goofballs can seem second-class by birth, but Mike Powell makes a case for comedy in his latest column, asking: What if being serious was just the wall we had to break through on the way to being funny?
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His musical palette expanded over time, from the hushed acoustic guitar demos of his solo debut, Roman Candle , to the orchestrated studio craftsmanship of his fifth album, 's Figure 8. Still, all were distinguished by a vulnerable demeanor conveyed by intense but wispy vocals often double-tracked and personal lyrics that referred candidly to subjects like addiction, depression, and alienation. His music's character was also shaped by artful chord transitions, which he called his favorite part of songs. He moved abruptly from indie cult status to mainstream success in when his contributions to the Good Will Hunting soundtrack resulted in an Academy Award nomination "Miss Misery". He recorded only six solo albums, releasing five before his untimely death at the age of 34 in He began writing and recording his first songs around the time he moved to Portland, Oregon at the age of After high school, Smith headed to Amherst, Massachusetts to study philosophy and political science at Hampshire College. It was there that he met future bandmate Neil Gust. Mixing Smith 's melancholy-pop sensibilities with Gust 's more aggressive style and a notable grunge influence, they signed with Frontier Records, which released 's Dead Air and 's Cop and Speeder. Peterson then left the group and was replaced by Sam Coomes.
Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska , raised primarily in Texas , and lived much of his life in Portland, Oregon , where he first gained popularity. Smith's primary instrument was the guitar, though he also played piano, clarinet , bass guitar, drums, and harmonica. Smith had a distinctive vocal style, characterized by his "whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery",  and often used multi-tracking to create vocal layers, textures, and harmonies.