Park West; Sun 6
Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. The Man Called E, a.k.a. the creative force behind Eels, had a small hit back in 1996 with “Novocaine for the Soul,” but he’s been making up for it ever since. Not that he didn’t deserve mainstream success, but there are certain artists for whom modest fame is preferable to mass stardom, and Everett is likely one of them. One even suspects, had the hits kept coming, Everett would have still found some way to subvert the system and make them stop.
Which is not to say that Eels are in any way a tough listen. The new best-of Meet the Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1, 1996–2006 goes down easy, though at 24 tracks it’s unlikely anyone will be dropping this whole thing onto their iPod. Perhaps more indicative of Everett’s quirks and qualities is the concurrently released all-over-the-place clearinghouse Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996–2006, by its nature a total hodgepodge. The double-disc and DVD set acts sort of like a parallel retrospective of a studiously eccentric career, with the kind of wryly annotated collection (replete with requisite remixes, alternate versions, and covers of fellow eccentrics Prince, Rickie Lee Jones, Daniel Johnston and others) that voracious file-sharing fans of such an adamant cult act will appreciate having all in one place.
If all this archival mining comes off as a stopgap contract breaker, at least it’s a stopgap compiled with love.