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Volume 68, Issue 150, Monday, June 23, 2003 

Arts & Entertainment

Have a hootenanny with ‘Shootenanny!i

By Zach Lee
The Daily Cougar

Shootenanny isnit in the dictionary. The closest match is "hootenanny," defined as "an informal performance by folk singers, typically with participation by the audience."

The Eels make listeners want to dance, sing along and do anything else to participate along with their new CD. Their fearless leader has everything to do with this. Mark Oliver Everett is a musical genius. Known to his friends as simply "E," he has been the creative force behind the Eels as well as the bandis only vital component. 

Most widely known for their 1996 alternative hit "Novocaine for the Soul," E and the Eels have worked hard to keep somewhat of a cult following. Eis sometimes vague, but emotionally poignant lyrics matched with his experienced guitar playing bring his songwriting skills to another level on Shootenanny!.

From the first track, "All In a Dayis Work," to the last note of the last song ("Somebody Loves You"), E brings his distinct style to the table.

In "Restraining Order Blues," he turns an idea that seems very appealing to songwriters like Adam Sandler or Weird Al Yancovic into a very touching song. "Life goes on/ Nothing is new/Judge made it clear … I canit be near you/Everybody knows that Iim not a violent man/Just someone who knows heis in love."

The first single off of the album, "Saturday Morning," is upbeat and catchy. Songs like "The Good Old Days" and "Dirty Girl" are great love songs with a melancholy flavor.

In several songs, E demonstrates a songwriting ability and sometimes even a voice very similar to a young Bob Dylan. "Rock Hard Times," "Agony" and "Lone Wolf" are all great examples of the comparable style.

"I donit know what it is theyire trying to do to me/ Make me into some sick joke/ But no oneis laughing/ And least of all not me/ Itis hard to laugh as you choke." he sings in "Rock Hard Times."

Itis difficult to place the Eelsi music into any single genre because the songs are so distinctive. They range from the straight forward "Dirty Girl" ("I like a girl with a dirty mouth/ someone I can believe") to the heavily symbolic "Fashion Awards" ("Weill sit down in the velvet chairs/ Theyill hand awards out for best hair/ And if we donit win one, well, then/ Weill blow off our heads in despair").

There isnit one bad song on the album. From the Eelsi first contract with Polydor Records in 1991, E has been distilling and purifying his sound, and Shootenanny! is another step up on the ladder of success for himself and his band.

The Eels

Shootenanny!

Dreamworks Records

The verdict: Buy this record and sing along.
 Send comments to dcshobiz@mail.uh.edu

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