Eels — ‘Earth to Dora’
THE GOOD: California indie band Eels (singer/songwriter Mark Oliver Everett and whomever happens to be in the studio) returns with its (his) 13th.
THE BAD: Everett has been stuck on repeat for at LEAST a decade. Albums have become interchangeable.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The well-worn formula consists of Everett complaining about current relationships (real or imagined) in slightly hushed but warm tones, delicate backdrops that go full-blown rock/pop at certain points and melodies that are (thankfully) engaging more often than not.
There’s nothing necessarily disagreeable about “Earth to Dora.” I rather enjoyed “Are We Alright Again” and “The Gentle Souls,” two of the record’s more fetching moments. But we’ve been here before, several times. You know that one friend who keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, and has to tell you about it every time? Everett is the musical equivalent of that guy. The only saving grace here is we only meet up with Everett once every couple of years.
BUY IT?: Your call.
Jeff Tweedy — ‘Love Is the King’
THE GOOD: Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy gives us his fourth solo record.
THE BAD: “King” is a slow burn — a grower. It’s not meant to be an immediate classic. However, put in the effort and you’ll embrace these songs.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Tweedy recorded the album last spring during the COVID-19 lockdown. Wilco saw a bunch of tour dates canceled, so Tweedy spent the time hunkered down in his Chicago studio, the Loft, and got some musical assistance from his sons. The album also is a companion piece to Tweedy’s book, “How to Write One Song.”
The record isn’t meant to be a grand statement about the pandemic. “King” is simply Tweedy using music as a release and a way to cope with a world turned upside down. It ends up a country-tinged indie collection that’s sometimes sad (“Bad Day Lately”) and sometimes playful (“Natural Disaster”). This music will sound just as timeless and relevant when things are normal again.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Weezer — ‘OK Human’
THE GOOD: Alt-rockers Weezer return with an unexpected 14th.
THE BAD: “OK Human” is a gimmick album where the stunting works better than some of the songs.
THE NITTY GRITTY: COVID-19 wrecked the band’s plans last year. It was supposed to release the guitar-heavy “Van Weezer” album in May and follow that up with a co-headlining summer tour featuring Green Day and Panic! At the Disco. The virus killed that tour and pushed the album back to THIS May.
So Rivers Cuomo and his crew finished up the on-again, off-again “OK Human” project. This album finds Cuomo embracing singer/songwriter and orchestral influences, embellishing the songs with a 38-piece orchestra and painting them with a vintage “Pet Sounds” vibe.
It mostly works. Tracks such as “Grapes of Wrath” and “Dead Roses” are half classic Cuomo melodies, half ornate arrangements. Too bad quickies such as “Mirror Image” and “Screens” feel like ideas not yet fully fleshed out.
So, expect something pretty yet flawed. And, hopefully, we will still get “Van Weezer” next month.
BUY IT?: Sure.