One of my favorite bands in the world is the EELS. They’re an odd little group fronted by a curious man who calls himself E.
E writes songs about the underdogs in life, and he clearly views himself as one of them. He’s a rock star with an underbite and an affection for dorks. His songs alternate between Beck-style funk-noise and really sweet, affectionate miniature pop songs. Each variation is very unique and endearing, and his songs are often genuinely touching.
Many EELS fans would name Electro-Shock Blues as their favorite album. It was written after E’s mother’s death and his sister’s subsequent suicide, so it’s a heavy album. The music is very melancholy and the lyrics are remarkable in that they stare grimly into the darkest emotions yet still somehow manage to inspire beautifully and remain hopeful about life. This dynamic is found in a lot of their best work.
My personal favorite album of theirs, however, is probably their newest album SHOOTENANNY!. I think that it’s probably E’s strongest, most concise collection of songs. There isn’t necessarily an overarching concept behind this album, but it represents all of his strengths well. My favorite tune on the album is probably a catchy, touching little song called “Love of the Loveless”. It’s sort of E’s own sermon on the mount, saying that it’s easy to love people who are already loved – the trick is loving those who nobody else will.
Lastly, one of my favorite parts of the EELS website is a little feature called “Dear Uncle E”, where fans write in needing advice, and E offers back strange little nuggets that generally don’t make much sense, but garner a confused laugh. Enjoy a few of my favorites:
Dear Uncle E,
I am a fairly levelheaded young lady who happens to be a big fan of the EELS. However, recently I have found that my love for the EELS is becoming too much for me to handle. It all started when I saw them on their Tour of Duty in Birmingham. Since then I am unable to let go of the wonderful experience that overcame me that night. When I shut my eyes all I can see is Mr. E signing my T-shirt or Koool G smiling. I have lost my appetite for anything but the EELS. Uncle E, what can I do?
You see? This is the burden of being an EEL. It’s not as easy as you might think. Believe me, we’d like to systematically make love to each and every one of you, but due to the sheer number of you, and the constraints of time, the best we can do is make love to a few hundred of you and the rest have to settle for the music. But we like to think that playing music for you is a form of making love. Really. Think about it.
Dear Uncle E,
I’m thinking about getting a tattoo (‘Maybe it’s time to live’ because that whole part in ‘PS You Rock My World’ is so relevant to me.) But everyone says I will regret it (the tattoo in general -I haven’t told them what I’m getting). What do you think?
This is one area where I wish I could be a little quicker with the advice. Sure, I’m flattered that you would put one of Uncle E’s lyrics on your body, and maybe a little excited at the idea of being a permanent part of your skin. But trust me, one day you will be an eighty year old with skin hanging off your arms like a turkey neck, wishing to God you hadn’t been so stupid as to put the lyrics from a band you liked in the 1900s on your body. And no tongue piercing, OK? If I’m too late with my advice and you’ve already got the tattoo: Wow! Looks great! I’m honored!
Dear Uncle E,
My cat died. I think his spirit has returned in the body of the goat that lives next door. What should I do?
Invite the goat over for tea and talk about the good times you had in his previous life. Maybe check to see if he enjoys cat food. Perhaps a little catnip. Bundle up on the couch with him and see if he purrs. Knit him a nice goat coat.