Artist Spotlight: Eels
Like Thom Yorke or Mike Doughty, Mark Oliver Everett didn't necessarily start out as someone you expect to still be hearing from in 2014. His band, Eels, had an MTV and alt radio hit with "Novocaine for the Soul," won some comparisons to a creepier Beck, and mostly disappeared from the airwaves forever afterward. But his second album, Electro-Shock Blues, a concept record to help him cope with the sudden, simultaneous deaths of several family members, did win critical acclaim, and sad, pretty songs like "Last Stop: This Town" and "Climbing to the Moon" proved why it's also his finest. The more upbeat Daisies of the Galaxy didn't win him much in sales, however, despite the presence of the then-ubiquitous "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" ("Goddamn right it's a beautiful day/ Uh-huh") in movie trailers, and the following year's Souljacker didn't even make it to U.S. shores until much later.
Then he tried his last-ever attempt at a charting single (the sprightly, innocent "Saturday Morning" from Shootenanny!) and finally gave in to his steadily growing cult, who embraced the double album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations as his best work since Electro-Shock Blues. From there on out he took after his pensive songwriter buddy, the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, and has made fans-only albums of folky introspection and bleak humor ever since, including a trilogy from 2009-'10 and the new The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett.