Day 112-- favorite albums of all time, part 1

In a concentrated effort to avoid making an ass of myself for a few days more (incrimination! confidentiality! vulnerability!), I'm going to make a list of some of my favorite CDs of all time. What's more reliable than falling back on music things? I think this is a fun little juxtaposition to the standard "year end" lists that pop up. I'm not even sure I'll number these--I'll just toss in one or two for the next few days, build up a list of albums that I know that I can A) listen to repeatedly--in their entirety--without getting bored, B) I'd be sad if someone told me that I'd never get to listen to that album again.

Here's one:

Eels-- Electro-Shock Blues

Eels--one man, the band, whichever--tend to release albums filled with highs and lows, but one album--this one--was his/their masterpiece. Released after a string of deaths in Mark "E" Everett's family, it's a sad album. And that's an understatement. As much as I tend to get into sad periods, I don't think I'll ever be as sad as E on this album. But much of the brilliance comes from the joy and gallows humor that breaks through the bleak cracks. It's an addictive album musically, too. "My Descent Into Madness" steadies orchestra pop with trip-hop beats, and the Munsters creepiness of "Cancer for the Cure" is somewhere between kitstch pop and brilliant songwriting.

But there are a few songs which literally vault this album into the statosphere: "3 Speed" is very touching; I've been listening to this album for years and I still tear up over this track. The lyrics are almost 'forced defeatist,' filled with aching and heartrending questions and observations ("life is funny, but not 'ha-ha' funny"), and the music is a simple rhythm electric guitar blanketed with sampled strings. Two other songs really stick out: Electro-Shock Blues is punctuated with detours into alt. country territory, but "Climbing to the Moon" is the most twangy, the words a first-person account of a mental ward patient dreaming of getting to the roof and staring at the stars. There is an allstar guest musician list (T-Bone Burnett, Jon Brion, Grant Lee Phillips), and the lackadaisical, almost backpedalling feel is calming and warm. The last very noteworthy track is the closer, "P.S. You Rock My World." It's a great closer to an album mired in grief and gloom, a celebration of all of the blessings that persist even with the pain and brokenness. It's a very simple song, a beautiful use of less than five chords, and two lines always ring out in my head: "I was at a funeral the day I realized I wanted to spend my life with you;" and "...and I was thinkin' 'bout how everyone is dying, and maybe it's time to live." I don't understand E's pain, but it's great album because not only do all of the songs stick in your head (in that everything but the kitchen sink sorta way), but it makes me smile through the gloom at the end.

A good critical look at the album.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 12/26/2006 09:43:00 PM,


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