Category: Eels

Eels – Daisies of the Galaxy

ARTIST: Eels                             220px-eels-daisies_of_the_galaxy

TITLE:  Daisies of the Galaxy

YEAR RELEASED: 2000

CHART ACTION: #8 UK

SINGLES: Mr. E’s Beautiful Blies (#11 UK), Flyswatter (#55 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you’re a fan.

LINEUP: Mark Everett, Jonathan Norton, David Alvarez, Peter Buck, Grant-Lee Phillips

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Firmly established as a “cult artist” in the US, Mark Everett makes his own kinda record, varied, complex and fruitful.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Full of nuggets from all aspects of pop music, filled with eclectic instrumental stylings, and loaded with Mark Everett’s imagery, the third album by his Eels incarnation wasn’t going to be commercial, not in the US, but it was quite rewarding.

Everett didn’t create a song cycle this time, but he filled each song with personal reflections and imagery that still spoke to him and let his fans in on what he was thinking.

A lot of the songs are majestic and orchestral. Traditional pop, not pop-rock. It works.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues”, the UK hit, was originally a hidden track, and not listed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A Japanese bonus track, of course

GRADE: A:  Another great record from Everett, who lets everyone in to his soul a bit.

Eels – Electro-Shock Blues

ARTIST: Eels                            220px-Eels-Blues

TITLE:  Electro-Shock Blues

YEAR RELEASED: 1998

CHART ACTION: #12 UK

SINGLES: Last Stop: This Town (#40 US Modern Rock, #23 UK), Cancer for the Cure (#60 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Climbing to the Moon

LINEUP: Mark Everett, Nonathan Norton and a lot of guests such as Jon Brion, T-Bone Burnett, Lisa Germano, Grant-Lee Phillips, etc.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An album that mixes sadness in its subject matter with at times uplifting music, all in a way for Everett to cope with heavy losses he suffered.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It starts with a haunting song using lyrics found in his sister’s diary – the sister who later committed suicide. Then “Cancer for the Cure” talks about his mother’s terminal disease. You’d have every right to think that this is a morose, depressing album.

Well, the subject matter is dark and grim, but in a way Everett doesn’t allow the music to sink into the grimness. The album has a life, and a fresh breath, and no doubt Everett coped with the loss of his closest family members in his own way, by making music live for them.

It’s quite remarkable that there’s beauty in this sadness, loss, and grief. The album transcends that though, and in doing so, transcends life and death.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Baby Genius” is about Everett’s father, a brilliant physicist that died young.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A: Just a great collection of songs celebrating life and mourning death.

Eels – Beautiful Freak

ARTIST: Eels 220px-Beautifulfreak

TITLE:  Beautiful Freak

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #114 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: Novocaine for the Soul (#1 US Modern Rock, #10 UK), Susan’s House (#9 UK), Your Lucky Day in Hell (#35 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Rags to Rags, Beautiful Freak

LINEUP: E (Mark Everett), Jonathan Norton, Tommy Waller, Jon Brion, Mark Goldenberg, Jim Jacobson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Singer of songs forms a band to arrange and record his compositions and results in an alternative and UK hit.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Combining samples, loops, standard alt-rock sounds, and a world-weary gruff vocal style, Mark Everett’s Eels struck it fairly big with “Novocaine for the Soul” and this debut album.

The usage of the samples and other interesting arrangements keeps this out of what was becoming a cliché – the earnest alternative singer / songwriter singing sad songs in a gruff voice. Everett’s songs mine some of the usual fare – anxiety, depression, bad relationships, bad neighborhoods, but the arrangements and his gift for melody lift the record past its contemporaries.

In the UK, they ate this up (as you can see). Here in the US, it was a staple of ‘alternative rock’ stations that sprung up all over the place in the 90’s. It was worthy of airplay, since it was unique, but radio friendly. The production made it stand out on the radio when so many other songs in that format were quite similar.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Everett had released some solo records as “E” in the early 90’s, and Eels was a way to try to get these records in the same bin.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A German release has some radio sessions..

GRADE: A-: This grows on you, thanks to the samples and other production and arrangement tricks.