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An alternative rock group formed in California in 1995. Contains only one constant member, the founder Mark Oliver Everett. Other musicians have come and gone over the years, but Everett (affectionately referred to as E) writes nearly all the material. Eels have contributed to many movie soundtracks, including Yes-Man and the first three Shrek films.
The band has been described as a vehicle through which E expresses his innermost thoughts, fears, and desires. This seems accurate, as the melodies and lyrics are generally very personal and introspective (especially on the most recent releases). As E wrote in his memoir Things The Grandchildren Should Know, each album reflects E's emotional state at the time he wrote the songs. Since E has led a pretty tumultuous life, the albums range from bright and optimistic to bitter and resentful.
Although Eels never really broke out into the mainstream ("Novocaine for the Soul" was a minor hit, but that's about it for them chartwise in the United States), they do have a large and dedicated cult following. The 1998 album Electro-Shock Blues, E's effort to come to terms with the deaths of his mother and sister, is usually considered his magnum opus. The latest album, Tomorrow Morning, was released in August 2010.
- Beautiful Freak (1996)
- Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
- Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
- Souljacker (2001)
- Shootenanny! (2003)
- Blinking Lights...and Other Revelations (2005)
- Hombre Lobo (2009)
- End Times (2010)
- Tomorrow Morning (2010)
Eels provide examples of:
- Audience Participation: "I Like Birds"
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: Eels was just chosen as a name because E figured that if you went to a record store, you'd see their albums filed pretty close to the albums he'd put out as a solo artist. Once the first Eels album actually came out, he found out that the "E" and "Eels" sections were usually separated by a lot of albums by The Eagles and Earth Wind and Fire.
- Badass Beard: E, definitely. Also has a lot to do with the Hombre Lobo album.
- Black Comedy: Particularly the America's Funniest Home Videos parody video for "Rags to Rags".
- Black Sheep Hit: Mr E's Beautiful Blues only appears on Daisies of the Galaxy because it was popular, E only agreed to add it if it was placed last and there was a gap to distinguish it from the rest of the album as he didn't think it really fitted in.
- Bowdlerise: The label requested a re-dubbed "clean" version of "It's A Motherfucker", so that Daisies of the Galaxy could be sold at stores that don't carry albums with explicit lyrics. E's Writer Revolt was to change the title drop to "it's a monster trucker" and add unintelligible mock-CB radio chatter to instrumental sections.
- Concept Album: Electro-Shock Blues and the Hombre Lobo/End Times/Tomorrow Morning trilogy.
- Blinking Lights and Other Revelations probably counts too with a running theme of E coming to terms with all the things he's experienced.
- Creator Breakdown: Which has, ironically, led E to produce some of his best work.
- Darker and Edgier: Souljacker.
- Dead Little Sister: E's source material for all of the songs on "Electro-Shock Blues", many fans' favourite album.
- Although his sister was technically older than him, E writes in his autobiography that he felt that he was the only one who ever truly grew up.
- Deadpan Snarker: E himself.
- Enforced Method Acting/Throw It In: During a live performance of "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," E got a bit too close to The Chet's wife, who was onstage with them. The Chet responded with a Southern cock-rock guitar solo, which E has described as "some of The Chet's finest work." This can be heard on the Useless Trinkets collection.
- Go Among Mad People: Possible interpretation for some songs on Electro Shock Blues.
- Howl of Sorrow: In The Last Time We Spoke, provided by E's dog Bobby.
- I Am the Band: E is the only constant member, writing all the songs himself. His bandmates pretty much just follow along.
- Intercourse with You: So, so often.
- Long Title: "I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart" and "Theme For A Pretty Girl That Makes You Believe God Exists".
- Love Triangle: "The Look You Give That Guy"
- Lyrical Dissonance: A lot of Eels songs are about death, rejection, or insanity- but listening to some of the melodies, you'd never know it.
- Lyrical Shoehorn: Subverted; sometimes E ignores rhythm altogether, in order to sing the lyrics he wants; especially attention-drawing in "Things the Grandchildren should Know".
- Moral Guardians: In one of the fundraisers for the Democratic campaign for the 2000 presidential elections copies of Daisies of the Galaxy were handed out for free. The Republican campaign jumped on the opportunity and accused the Democrats of marketing inappropriate material for children, since the album had both a cartoony cover art and obscene lyrics.
- Obsession Song: "My Timing is Off" and several other songs on "Hombre Lobo".
- One-Hit Wonder: Their one major single in America was "Novocaine for the Soul". It made it to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks (now Alternative Songs) chart, and managed to scrape the bottom of the pop airplay charts. Since then, they haven't really troubled any singles charts there again. Even on the Modern Rock chart, they only managed one more chart appearance when "Last Stop: This Town" charted at #40 for a week .
- In the UK, its a different story: the band have six Top 40 hits, two of them making the top ten ("Susan's House" and "Novocaine for the Soul").
- Rearrange the Song: They like to do this in their live performances. For instance the studio version of "I Like Birds" is laid back and based around acoustic guitar and drum machine, but at concerts they tend to increase the tempo and turn it into a noisy pop punk number. There was also a spell where E would speak the lyrics of "Novocaine For The Soul" instead of singing them, although otherwise the arrangement stayed the same.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The title of "Efil's God" is "Dog's Life" backwards (with a slight change in punctuation of course): "Dog's Life" was actually an earlier non-album track, and "Efil's God" is based around a backwards sample of it.
- Self-Deprecation: E's lyrics feature this a lot.
- Sesame Street Cred: They've contributed songs to the Shrek movies ("My Beloved Monster", "I Need Some Sleep", "Royal Pain").
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Listen to Daisies of the Galaxy and then put in End Times.
- Something Blues: Used a lot, in addition to "Mr E's Bautiful Blues" and song/album Electro-shock Blues, there's "Mighty Fine Blues", "Rotten World Blues", "Checkout Blues", "Grace Kelly Blues", "Restraining Order Blues" and "Paradise Blues".
- Song of Song Titles: The lyrics of "Hidden Track" are composed entirely of song titles suggested to E by fans.
- Title Drop: Averted with Electro-shock Blues, although the album contains a track with the same name it doesn't feature the title.
- Troubled Fetal Position: Averted for laughs in "Going Fetal".
- Although before the Eels formed, "Hello Cruel World" from E's solo album A Man Called E made it to #8 on the Modern Rock Chart in 1992