|Eels — The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett (2014)|
Eels — The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
≥ Centered around the twisted mind of e, band offers a novel twist on post~grunge, lo~fi American indie~rock.
Formed: 1995 in Los Angeles, CA
Birth name: Mark Oliver Everett
Also known as: E, MC Honky
Born: April 10, 1963, Virginia
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, piano, keyboard, drums, bass guitar
Location: Atwater Village, East Side of Los Angeles, California
Album release: April 21, 2014
Record Label: E Works
01. Where I’m At 1:42
02. Parallels 3:16
03. Lockdown Hurricane 3:30
04. Agatha Chang 3:28
05. A Swallow in the Sun 3:37
06. Where I’m From 2:49
07. Series of Misunderstandings 3:23
08. Kindred Spirit 2:54
09. Gentlemen’s Choice 2:36
10. Dead Reckoning 2:29
11. Answers 2:39
12. Mistakes of My Youth 4:57
13. Where I’m Going 3:04
01. To Dig It
02. Lonely Lockdown Hurricane
03. Bow Out
04. A Good Deal
05. Good Morning Bright Eyes
06. Millicent Don’t Blame Yourself
07. Thanks I Guess
08. On the Ropes
09. Accident Prone
10. I’m Your Brave Little Soldier
11. Fresh Feeling
12. Trouble With Dreams
13. Oh Well
℗ 2014 E Works
BY MATT TOMIAK, 14 APRIL 2014; SCORE: 5/10
♠ Like Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Eels mainman Mark “E” Everett is a pretty unusual guy who, for the last couple of decades, has been making fairly straighforward music. Sure, his output has dealt with some desolate themes — suicide, mental illness, terrorism, terminal disease but Eels’ bleakness was (in the early stages of Everett’s career at least) often neatly bound up in radio~friendly, if slightly oddball, indie~pop packages like “Novocaine for the Soul“, “Susan’s House“, “Last Stop: This Town” and “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues.”
♠ Saliently though, that run of singles fizzles out almost 15 years ago. Eels haven’t troubled the UK Top 10 singles chart since 1997, and subsequently drifted off the radar of many casual fans in the period following their late 90s/early 2000s commercial apex. The project has have never actually ceased to be a going concern for Everett, but the Virginia native has explored a variety of non~musical outlets in the 21st century, including writing an autobiography and presenting a BBC documentary on his celebrated quantum physicist father, Hugh Everett III. Nevertheless, Eels have tended to put out a new record every couple of years since the aforementioned well of hits ran dry; this is Everett’s eleventh full~length studio album fronting a constantly flexible band line~up.
♠ The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett arrives at a critical juncture in its creator’s life, released just a couple of weeks after Everett turned fifty in April 2014. Appropriately, the opening track is entitled “Where I’m At”, the first in the album’s self~analytical triptych. As a solely instrumental number, this opening instalment doesn’t give much away as to a mindset approaching the landmark birthday, but this is not to say he shies away from addressing the passage of time on TCTOMOE. Far from it — it’s one of the album’s major topics. “As the light of day shines down, there’s no way around it — I am not a younger man” is the singer’s stark admission on “Mistakes Of My Youth.”
♠ This record utilizes straightforward folk~rock with understated string and brass accompaniments, mostly stripped of the whimsical music box quirks of yesteryear, although “Agatha Chan” is a knowingly self~conscious attempt to emulate a lovelorn torch song a la Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.”
♠ In terms of the lyrics, the famously gloomy Everett approaches life in conciliatory, even upbeat fashion. He resolves in the optimistic “Where I’m From” to “drink to everything that we went through/it wasn’t always so bad” and admitting to — shock horror — having a “good feeling” on the Tom Waitsian closer “Where I’m Going.” ♠ This is countered by the tortured confessions of “Kindred Spirit” in which he claims to “live every day in regret and pain”, and the familiar laments on “Gentleman’s Choice” that “the world has no room for my kind.” Angst, even of a very middle-aged kind, is still proving tough for Everett to fully let go of.
♠ Dr. Hugh Everett III, Ph.D., was what Scientific American magazine calls “one of the most important scientists of the 20th century.” A quantum physicist who authored The Many Worlds Theory, Everett inspired countless science fiction books, movies and Star Trek episodes with the concept of parallel universes. As a young teenager he exchanged letters with Albert Einstein, debating whether it was something random or unifying that held the universe together.
♠ Until the age of eight, Hugh Everett lived in Washington, DC with his mother, Katharine Kennedy, a troubled poet and author, and his father, Col. Hugh Everett, Jr., US Army. As an adult, Dr. Everett settled in nearby Virginia, with his wife Nancy. They had a daughter, Elizabeth Ann, and a son, Mark Oliver.
♠ Mark Oliver Everett showed no talent for physics, or even mathematics. He was much more interested in the records his sister was playing in the house.
♠ Everyday after school one year, Elizabeth played Neil Young’s AFTER THE GOLD RUSH album over and over. Mark listened. He never would have dreamt that one day he would record an album (DAISIES OF THE GALAXY) playing the same upright piano that Neil Young played on AFTER THE GOLD RUSH.
♠ At the age of six, Mark found himself at the next door neighbor’s garage sale where he saw the toy drum set that would change his life. He begged his parents for the $15 it cost to buy the set, and they relented. Most children that get a drum set play it for a week and then leave it in the closet until their parents have a garage sale. Unfortunately for the Everett family, Mark played those drums everyday for the next 10 years.
♠ As a young teenager, after a period of trouble with the law, being arrested and thrown out of school, Mark started to pay attention to the acoustic guitar gathering dust in his sister’s closet. He had already been making up little songs on the family’s upright piano for years.
♠ Mark had several friends that were coincidentally named Mark. To avoid confusion, they would refer to each other by their initials. Throughout his teens Mark Everett was “M.E.” Gradually it was shortened to the even easier “E”.
♠ By the time he was 20, E was obsessed with writing songs and recording them on his secondhand 4 track cassette recorder. He wrote and recorded virtually every day of the next seven years.
♠ At the age of 24, feeling stifled by the lack of inspiration and creative community in his Virginia neighborhood, E packed up everything he owned into a car and drove 3,000 miles across the country to Los Angeles, where he knew not one person.
♠ He eventually moved into a tiny apartment above a garage in Atwater Village, on the East side of Los Angeles, and resumed his antisocial routine of waking up, writing and recording 4 track cassettes, going to one of many shitty jobs that he hated, coming home, writing and recording more, and going to sleep.
♠ As time went on, from the time he started his obsessive song writing, the quality of the songs and production of his tapes slowly improved. Eventually someone heard some of his songs and asked him to record for a record label.
|Eels — The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett (2014)|