Eels – Daisies of the Galaxy
Bong Load Records,
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2010
Working at HPB has taught me the value of discovering music. I never really got to do it the old fashioned way, as I reached the age where I realized music was cool and exciting right as Napster was taking off. Occasionally in high school, I would buy CDs, I'd even avoid leaks on Kazaa! But after that, I never much saw the point in buying CDs, only vinyl. But the internet had ruined me. Everything I bought had to be test driven before I could pony up the cash and actually own it. I read all the blogs, followed all the trends, tried to separate the wheat from the chaff on my own but there was just too much! I worked at KJ for three years, two of which I was running or assistant running the music department. This created a sort of detachment between me and music. There was always a criteria, a report card, whatever. Something I would go through to deduce whether or not an album was any good. I had to, I was reviewing 8 or more records a week and while gut instinct was a huge part of it, a lot of it involved trying to please promoters by getting stuff added (which basically just involved developing a mentality of say, listening to your friend's band). Anyway, there was a point. Oh yeah, the point was that when I graduated and couldn't work at KJHK anymore, I started to love music again. It became less of a job and I remembered why I joined in the first place. Not to say that the time I spent there was bad. It was pretty much the only real education I got in college and it's what ended up landing me a job doing music writing for money. But now I love music again! I am aloof about what's hip and hot and new and it's fucking amazing. I've spent the summer listening to nothing but records I actually own, pick up at the store, or CDs I pick up at the store to listen to in the car. It's the summer of Teenage Fanclub, the Replacements, Husker Du, Pavement and Fugazi. Five bands I should have been obsessed with in college and am only now seeing their inner truth or whatever.
But this isn't about those bands, this is about Eels and Daisies of the Galaxy, which is a record I'd never heard and because I like Eels and Electro-Shock Blues, and knew this was supposed to be good from someone who told me that, I grabbed it. And I'm listening to it right now and it's really fucking good. Mark Everett's voice is one of those rare things in modern American music. That is, he's got so much soul. It's raspy, deep, exhausted. It's the kind of voice that made me check to see if he'd committed suicide because it was so solemn (see also: Nick Drake, Elliott Smith). But then again, that tragedy is all over Electro-Shock Blues and this is well, still a pretty sad record. It sounds like he's getting better, it's a little brighter. It's all kind of summed up on the excellent “It's a Motherfucker.” “It's a motherfucker/ Getting through Sunday,” he sings. That's it, right there. In my head right now, this is like what Why?'s Alopecia is to Elephant Eyelash (or even what Alopecia is to Eskimo Snow). The step back and the analysis of the situation, opposed to being trapped in the middle of it. There's a certain clarity present here, one you don't get on those really intense masterpiece albums, although that would be taking this one out of masterpiece running (assuming one artist can have more than one). But E got his right off the bat, but goddamn, this is a great record. OK, definitely not a masterpiece but a great record, it's settled. Beautiful and sad, full of really beautifully placed strings and sad horns (see the two perfectly combined in “Wooden Nickels”). The only thing that really puzzles me is WHY the single is a hidden track? I mean, I was like “Ok, I've heard 'It's a Motherfucker'” and then at the very end it's like “OH THERE'S THAT SONG I'VE HEARD IN A MILLION MOVIES OR WHATEVER.” Interesting move, Mr. E. Interesting move. Also, Adrian Tomine art all over this thing, so there's another win there.