Eels

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Eels

Souljacker (Dreamworks) Sing along, "Odelay ... Odelay ..." Jesus, when did Gus Van Zandt get to E? Or did nobody learn that shot-for-shot remakes are a bad idea? Souljacker, Eels' fourth studio record, ain't quite that blatant since there's just not enough stuff being tossed around, but it's definitely the same brand of tricked-out and sample-spliced folk practiced by L.A.'s other pop pervert. The major difference is that these tapes are drenched under a thorazine drip. Seems that irritation is the sincerest form of flattery. Souljacker starts out guiltless enough, but after the mild retro-hum of opener "Dog Faced Boy" and the innocuously slippery "That Fresh Feeling" sandwich the grating "That's Not Really Funny" (and funny isn't the only thing the song ain't), the album degrades into a kind of bland repetitiveness. The whole back half of Souljacker drops into a range between plain bad and plain vanilla with only the occasional standard deviation above musically amusing. The only clear exception is the amiable skip of "Friendly Ghost." Shouldn't artistry be more than a drum machine and some backwards-looped samples? Or do you really want to put a dull loper on your album called "World of Shit"? Yes, on at least one account. (Saturday, March 16, La Zona Rosa, 7pm)

**

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