June 4, 2009

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The Eels, Hombre Lobo
Vagrant Records, June 2

For lack of a better term, the tuneage of Mark Everett — better known as “E” for lack of a better alphabet letter — is classic indie, running the gamut of Pavement/Flaming Lips to Brian Jonestown to twee to Sonic Youth, never really settling into a subgenre but making music that’s been good enough to find him hosting Eels albums that’ve featured whoop-de-do guests like Tom Waits and John Sebastian. And oddly, those two names say it all, as far as this concept album is concerned. His inner compass is as though commanded by Waits, always pointing 180 degrees from blatant commercialism, but this time quirk-folk isn’t lurking around nearly every corner — there’s some, sure, but this ain’t no Daisies of the Galaxy, the Eels record that may have caused the whole xylophone problem in recent underground dork-alt in the first place. There are ’70s cues from Sebastian and Nilsson, innocent (even naïve, which is a pleasure) pop segues that temper the Clinic-injected fuzz-rock representing the main musical thematic of the record, a point of correctness being that the main character is a werewolf (a revisitation of the “Dog-Faced Boy” of 2002’s Souljacker, now grown up, with all sorts of grown-up problems that he faces as whimsically as The Point’s Oblio did while trying to grasp The Point). This will not sell a lot of copies, but it’s a darlin’. A+Eric W. Saeger