Daisies of the Galaxy
If you're looking for one of the most underrated songwriters of the past 10 years, you could start with E, the single-lettered frontman of the Eels.
With his own solo discs like Broken Toy Shop, as well as painfully beautiful works like the selections on the Eels' 1998 album Electro-Shock Blues, E has blended lyrical intrigue with Lennon-esque melodic sensibilities. The early buzz on this set was that it's far more upbeat than the decidedly dour Electro-Shock. That's true to a point, but it's still predominantly quiet and more contemplative than most of what's getting airtime at the turn of the century.
With some impressive guests on board, including R.E.M.'s Peter Buck on piano, guitar, and bass, E and company deliver a disc that gets better with each repeated listen. Among several standouts are the album-opening "Grace Kelly Blues," the innocent tale "Jeannie's Diary," a Randy Newman-flavored ballad based around a 12-letter expletive, and the pure and playful pop of "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues."