You know those bands you just can't seem to outgrow? The bands you still cling to even though their past few albums were not so great? In your mind, these bands can do no harm—at least not anything you can't conveniently forget: the good will always heavily outweigh the bad—even if the good was years and years ago. For me, that's Eels.
Today, singer/songwriter Mark Oliver Everett (or E, as he's more widely known) remains the only permanent member of Eels—even describing the group as the "vessel for his music." But in 1996, the band was a newly formed trio—also featuring Jonathan "Butch" Norton and Tommy Walter—with a debut album on the then-magical Dreamworks label and a hit single on KROQ, "Novocaine for the Soul." Electric-Shock Blues, the band's melancholy 1998 release, found greater critical sucess, filled with songs inspired by dying family members, mortality, suicide, cancer and other fun subjects. Despite their dark lyrical subject matter, the tracks retain a curiously Beck-ish, buoyant feel to them, a noticable contrast to the songs from 2000's Daisies of the Galaxy, the result of E's teaming with the Dust Brothers' Michael Simpson and Peter Buck of R.E.M. "I'm feeling pretty good now," he sings on "Grace Kelly Blues," which in retrospect is sort of funny: the album is also the last good work before the parade of mediocrity that followed.
And yet come Eels' Sunday night show, that shit parade won't really matter: I'll still be able to relive the glorious past of the '90s. Selective memory is a beautiful thing.
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Eels with Smoosh (two sisters born in the '90s!) at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.galaxytheatre.com. Sun., 8 p.m. $20. Call for age restrictions.