Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.
I have an odd confession to make. Well, it's not really a confession. I was briefly singing in a rock and roll project that, well, we rehearsed about four times. Our greatest accomplishment was that a guitar amp was left in someone's basement for a few years. But I did write about seven songs worth of lyrics. Some of them were pretty good. We never got to play a gig and find out whether I can actually sing or not. Anyway, the lyrics I happened to be most proud of were written to the tune of the first track on this album, "Grace Kelly Blues." We never got around to creating a tune to fit them. My point is that anyone can sing along to this song whether they know the words or not. It's a bit silly complete with a brass quintet interlude between some simple acoustic guitar strumming. It would be impossible for E's vocals to be more simple (which is perhaps why I accidentally wrote my own version in the same basic style). It sounds like he's singing all alone, and the only reason you got to hear him is because he was your roommate and didn't realize you had come home early from work that day. What a great way to introduce a record!
But my feeble attempts at rockstar fame have little to do with why I enjoy this album so much. Eels have a lot of fun and silliness on most of their records. This one is more direct. More honest in a way. By the third track, they're setting up other angles to the songs, and don't stop until it's over. However, that intimacy set up with Grace Kelly never departs. I really wish there were moments when they rocked out here, but it just wouldn't fit. In fact, it hardly ever does on their albums, even if they play more pleasantly aggressive live.
In all, it's 15 songs packed in to 44 minutes. There is not one standout single that I can point to as the album's fulcrum, but that's kind of the point. It lazily carries you from track to track and is incredibly relistenable. The record could simply end after the 14th track, but instead we get one of the ultimate feel-good songs in human history in "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues (Untitled)". When the chorus goes, "Uh-huh. God damn right it's a beautiful day," and not only means it, but convinces you of it, well, you gotta be some kind of a-hole not to want to hear that song. In fact, I'm gonna go spin it on repeat for a while. See you next time for #39!
Click here for the excellent video for "Flyswatter" which is not embedable.
Not the real video:
#41 - Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike
#42 - Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
#43 - Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk
#44 - José González - In Our Nature
#45 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
#46 - Caribou - Andorra
#47 - Mastodon - Crack the Skye
#48 - Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
#49 - At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command
#50 - Rival Schools: United by Fate