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Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett (Deluxe Edition)

3.9 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 22, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

Before recording WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, the last EELS album to be released, EELS leader Mark Oliver Everett called the band together to record a group of highly personal songs at his Los Feliz, California studio. Finding the process uncomfortable, he decided to take a break and reconvened with the band some months later to record what became WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, an album full of spontaneous band collaborations. After that album's release and subsequent 73 show world tour, the band returned to what they had started all that time ago.


'I listened to what we had done, and it made me uncomfortable… but not uncomfortable enough,' Everett says now. 'I decided to scrub over half of the songs and write new ones that would make me feel even more uneasy. If I'm not uncomfortable, It's not real enough. I needed to dig a little deeper.'


The resulting album, THE CAUTIONARY TALES OF MARK OLIVER EVERETT, is an extraordinarily vivid and intimate document of a personal struggle. 'It's inspired by something I went though,' Everett says. 'Someone I lost, by choice, and later came to regret losing. It wasn't until I started to look at my role in it that it began to feel like I was getting somewhere worthwhile. The experience transformed me. This is the musical version of that experience. I'm hoping it could maybe serve as some sort of example for others. To learn from my mistakes.'


Quite different to the previous EELS release, and in contrast to the high-octane rock n' roll of the last EELS tour, THE CAUTIONARY TALES couples a bare-bones lyrical intimacy with a live orchestra of cello, viola, violins, bassoon, English and French horn, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, musical saw, glockenspiel and celesta that lends a stunning backdrop to the brutal insights of the lyrics.


'The title may make you think it's a solo album, but it's very much a group effort,' says Everett. Indeed, EELS members Koool G Murder, The Chet, P-Boo and Knuckles are all involved in performing, songwriting, and even arranging the album's orchestral parts.


'Everyone knows that if you want to write something convincing, you write about what you know,' says Everett, 'and what I know best are my experiences. I'm so lucky in so many ways, but it hasn't been easy. I may as well have been raised by wolves. I've had to figure everything out the hard way, through trial and error. I grew up very fast in some ways, and very slow in others. These are some of the trials and errors.'


'It's all a bit embarrassing,' Everett says now. 'But I figure it was a worthwhile endeavor, and I might as well put it out there for all to see - with my name and photo on it - no sugarcoating. When I was 10 years old my favorite album was Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon. The way he cut right through to the brutal truth really resonated with me, This is all his fault. I blame John Lennon,' he jokes. 'It wasn't an easy process, and I wouldn't want to go through it again. But I'm glad I did. I'm a better person for it, and I hope others can gain some perspective or awareness from it and maybe even apply it to their own lives. Maybe it could even start the process for some. Or at least make the process a little easier for them. To know they're not alone.'

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Where I'm At
  2. Parallells
  3. Lockdown Hurricane
  4. Agatha Chang
  5. A Swallow in the Sun
  6. Where I'm From
  7. Series of Misunderstandings
  8. Kindred Spirit
  9. Gentlemen's Choice
  10. Dead Reckoning
  11. Answers
  12. Mistakes of My Youth
  13. Where I'm Going

Disc: 2

  1. To Dig It
  2. Lonely Lockdown Hurricane
  3. Bow Out
  4. A Good Deal
  5. Good Morning Bright Eyes
  6. Millicent Don't Blame Yourself
  7. Thanks I Guess
  8. On The Ropes (Live WNYC)
  9. Accident Prone (Live WNYC)
  10. I'm Your Brave Little Soldier (Live WNYC)
  11. Fresh Feeling (Live KCRW)
  12. Trouble With Dreams (Live KCRW)
  13. Oh Well (Live KCRW)


Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 22, 2014)
  • Deluxe Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Pias America
  • ASIN: B00IP96A8E
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,626 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul M. Guyet on May 4, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Of Eels' recent albums, my least favorite was End Times. There was a lack of depth and polish that felt slapdash rather than raw and, when most every song on an album is about the different ways E is sad, well, it all kind of blurs together. It had a few really solid tracks on it, but a lot of it didn't stand out in my mind.
Cautionary Tales is a better version of End Times. There's more orchestration and more effort here, but the overwhelming sense of "haven't we been here before? Haven't we covered this already?" kept distracting me from most of it.

I wish the rest of the album sounded like the instrumental opening track, "Where I'm At", a soft and sad and beautiful piece that reminds me of elements of Daisies of the Galaxy, or, to be more specific, the live show build around Daisies. But, even though there is an orchestra credited for helping to create the album, I felt like a lot of Cautionary Tales wasn't utilizing said orchestra.
There is some good stuff here, namely "Parallels", "Kindred Spirit" (even though it sounds so much like "In My Dreams" that I have to check myself every time it comes on*) and "Answers", which features the always-lovely celeste and some really nice orchestration as well a lovely choral moment or two.
On the other hand, there's tracks like "Series of Misunderstands", that is so lacking in lyrical flow that I can barely sit through it, "Dead Reckoning" which feels too grandiose for this album and packs a strong vibe of "I'm crying! Again! Look! But this time, I'm lamenting all my horrible life choices in front of a full orchestra! This is powerful!!!" and "Gentleman's Choice" where there appear to be something stuck in E's throat. Not emotion...maybe...steak?
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Cautionary Tales picks up where End Times left off. The style of the two albums is similar and it seems like the stories are extensions of that album. This is dark Eels, not the happier, funkier, more produced Eels of the past. E is at his best with these stories.

I wasn't a huge fan of Wonderful Glorious; it was too dark, and too long. End Times and Beautiful Freak are still my favorite albums - those seem to land on my playlists more than any others. I like that Cautionary Tales is thirteen songs long and much more to the point. It plays very well with my two favorite albums.

I like the production of this album; it has grit, emotion, and dirtiness in it. The first time I listened to the album I accidently had it on shuffle with End Times - the two albums worked together perfectly.

Parallels is a great homage to his father, hedging around the concept of parallel universes. It is about loss and his hope that the woman he's not with anymore is well. A classic Eels song with E's voice up front and strong, beautiful acoustic music behind him.

Agatha Chang has to be one of the funnier Eels songs I've heard in a long time. There is just something funny about how much he misses the girl with long black hair he dated long ago, and wishes he was still with her.

Series of Misunderstandings is backed with a nursery rhyme sound. A new different sound for the Eels.

Answers took me totally by surprise. The song is set to a slowed down version of Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road. Of course E sounds nothing like Bruce, and the lyrics are completely different. I just couldn't help hearing Thunder Road.

Gentlemen's Choice is one of my least favorite songs on the album - E looks back on what he thought would be but never happened.
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Format: Audio CD
Like any Eels album this one is great! Anyone who loves "Blinking Lights" will also enjoy "Cautionary Tales"!
To me Eels will never get boring! After the rocking "Wonderful Glorious" now another heartbreaking record.
Thanks E! You're great!
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I was turned on to the EELS about 4 years ago.. Loved their sound. Unique. However to myself, this was just too down...meaning lyrically and melodically. This cd in some ways reminded me of the song "little bird", a song and video that I thought was fantastic..however it never matched it. Sorry.
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I used to be a huge Eels fan, going back as far as his 2 early solo albums ("And Man Called E" and "Broken Toy Shop"), but I have to admit that much of his post "Blinking Lights" material has been really tough to get into. Cautionary Tales continues this trend: a few good tracks surrounded by a lot of filler. It's a shame, because I think Mark Oliver Everett has real talent. He's just not putting it to good use. Only for die hards.
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When I got this CD, the regular disc was $9.99 and the deluxe was $10.00; definitely get the deluxe edition for a penny more because the deep, personal saga continues on some very good songs that I am surprised that were not included on the original disc. Songs like "Bow Out" and "Thanks I Guess" are some of the best songs from the albums and are on par with the great "Lockdown Hurricane" track. Also, you get a rocking rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" to boot!

I like when E gets very introspective in his songs and lays bare the emotions that we all battle within. This is a terrific collection of songs that drip with truth and haunting epiphany especially with the added gems found in the deluxe version of this terrific album.

One important note: the AutoRip of this album ONLY includes the original disc and not the deluxe disc. I am not sure why that is so.
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