released August 24th, 2010
from the album - I Like The Way This Is Going
from all music
Although Eels are often marketed as a full-fledged band, singer/songwriter E (real name: Mark Oliver Everett) is responsible for the group's sound and direction. Born in Virginia on April 9, 1963, Everett became interested in rock music at an early age via his sister's record collection, and began playing drums at the age of six (as well as tinkering on his family's piano). As the years progressed, Everett began leading a troubled teenage life, which was further complicated by his father's death. However, the turmoil led to an even stronger interest in music, as he taught himself how to play his sister's guitar and began writing his own original compositions. (Tragedy would later form the catalyst for Eels' magnum opus, Electro-Shock Blues.)
Due to the fact that several of his friends also were named Mark, it was also around this time that Everett began going by his initials -- and eventually, solely by the letter "E." By his early twenties, E was recording demo material on a used four-track cassette recorder, and eventually decided to pursue his rock & roll dreams by relocating to Los Angeles. Due to his prolific songwriting, the quality of his tunes naturally began to improve, which led to a recording contract as a solo artist for Polydor Records. This was followed by a pair of underappreciated releases, 1992's A Man Called E (which was supported with a tour opening for Tori Amos) and 1993's Broken Toy Shop, before E left the label and formed Eels along with bassist Tommy Walter and drummer Butch Norton. The trio inked a deal with the then-newly formed Dreamworks label and issued Eels' debut, 1996's Beautiful Freak. The album spawned a sizable MTV/alternative radio hit with "Novocaine for the Soul," its promo clip received three MTV Video Music Award nominations the following year, and the group's popularity rose in England (resulting in a Brit Award, which was presented to the group by goof metallists Spinal Tap).
What should have been a time of great promise for E turned out to be one of tragedy, as both the singer's sister and mother passed away in quick succession. This was compounded by Walter's departure from the group. The dark mood resonated in Eels' sophomore effort, Electro-Shock Blues, which proved to be stronger than its predecessor yet failed to fuel much commercial success. With new bassist Adam Siegal in tow, the group toured behind the album's release before returning to the studio immediately afterward to work on a third album. Issued in 2000, Daisies of the Galaxy offered a slightly brighter outlook and featured a guest appearance from R.E.M.'s guitarist Peter Buck, who also helped co-pen a track. Despite the album's commercial failure, E put together "the Eels Orchestra" and launched an international tour in support of its release. The six-piece band featured saxophone, trombone, trumpet, banjo, guitar, violin, upright bass, piano, melodica, clarinet, and timpani -- to make it work on-stage, each bandmember was required to play three to four different instruments each night.
After a live recording of the 2000 Eels Orchestra tour, Oh What a Beautiful Morning, was issued via the group's official website, E began preparing for Eels' fourth studio release. Instead of penning the entire album by himself (as he'd done with the group's previous work), E turned to John Parish for help. The two created Souljacker, which was issued throughout most of the world in September 2001 and hit American shores early the following year (in the U.S., the first edition of the CD also contained a bonus four-track disc). The resulting tour saw E and Norton joined by multi-instrumentalist Parish, as well as new bassist/synthesizer player Koool G Murder. A live disc, Electro-Shock Blues Show, followed soon after to promote the tour.
Spring 2003 began a flurry of Eels/E-related releases, beginning with MC Honky and his SpinART release I Am the Messiah. While the man behind Messiah's splattering mix of hip-hop beats, dance grooves, and kitschy samples was little more than E in DJ drag, the album was nevertheless an enjoyable slice of summertime fun. E's score for the indie film Levity arrived in April, and June saw the release of the Eels' fifth studio album, Shootenanny! Its follow-up, 2005's Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, was an ambitious double album including 33 songs. Eels' With Strings: Live at Town Hall album, recorded June 30, 2005, documented the New York Town Hall performance during their 2005 tour of the same name, and another With Strings: Live at Town Hall edition was simultaneously issued in February 2006 with a concert DVD.
In 2008, Eels released two CD/DVD sets -- Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, Vol. 1 and Useless Trinkets: B Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2007. The band's music also comprised the bulk of the soundtrack for Yes Man, a comedy featuring Jim Carrey. E then returned to the drawing board and emerged with Hombre Lobo, a concept album about desire that arrived in mid-2009, followed closely by the MySpace Transmissions Session 2009 live EP. The lo-fi End Times, which revolved around the central theme of broken love, arrived in 2010, but was followed in August by Tomorrow Morning, a much more polished album of upbeat optimism that relied heavily on analog electronics to drive its songs.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any darker for Mark Oliver Everett (aka E)...it doesn't. On the third Eels album in 14 months, Everett completes a trilogy that began with the rockist Hombre Lobo in June of 2009, which addressed the ravenous hunger and cost of desire. In January 2010, End Times detailed in a low-key and acoustic manner, often in sometimes embarrassingly intimate terms, the shattering toll of a broken relationship. Tomorrow Morning emerges on the other side of both. This 14-song collection meditates on E's own eccentric brand of optimism. The tunes carry his requisite catchy melodies, hooks, and compelling arrangements, but the textures are different from anything he's released before because most of it is electronic and programmed (though his guitar, Koool G Murder's bass and keys, and Knuckles' drums are present, too). One need go no further than "I'm A Hummingbird" for evidence. A synth with programmed strings and winds play counterpoint melodies and harmonics. The song, full of extended metaphors from the natural world as they relate to the protagonist's emotional state and letting go of the past, is, quite simply, beautiful. By contrast, "Baby Loves Me" is a punky electro number. Slamming beats, criss-crossing synths, and programmed ambiences collide with electric guitars, drum machines, a live kit, distorted vocals, and hilarious lyrics: "Record company hates me/The doctor says I'm sick/The bad girls think I'm too nice/The nice girls call me 'dick'/But baby loves me/And she's smarter than you/Baby loves me/Unlikely but true." "This Is Where It Gets Good" borrows its big, bad beats from Peter Gabriel's programming fakebook, though the lyrics and orchestral arrangements are pure Everett in terms of quirk and humor. There are quiet and gentle moments, too, such as the lilting "This Is What I Have to Offer" and "That's Not Her Way" (which could stand in for Bob Dylan's "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" in the 21st century). The downright jaunty electric and bass-guitar hook in "I LIke the Way This Is Going" is one of the simplest and most attractive of all E's melodies. While some of this album feels a bit rushed at times, as a whole Tomorrow Morning is a welcome contrast to the darkness of its predecessors, and a deft summertime pop record. Lord knows, a little optimism in these strange times is welcome — even if it comes from an unlikely source.
1 In Gratitude For This Magnificent Day Everett 1:25
2 I'm a Hummingbird Everett 3:14
3 The Morning Everett 2:17
4 Baby Loves Me Everett 3:27
5 Spectacular Girl Everett 3:15
6 What I Have To Offer Everett 2:41
7 This is Where It Gets Good Everett 6:18
8 After the Earthquake Everett 1:39
9 Oh So Lovely Everett 4:17
10 The Man Everett 3:51
11 Looking Up Everett 2:57
12 That's Not Her Way Everett 3:48
13 I Like the Way This is Going Everett 2:35
14 Mystery of Life Everett 4:22