Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Story

Monday, March 21, 2011


On Avery Island

A full album, On Avery Island, followed, this time recorded mainly in Denver , Colorado, where Mangum was backed by Robert Schneider of The Apples in Stereo, Rick Benjamin of the Perry Weissman Three and Lisa Janssen of Secret Square. It was released by Merge Records in 1996. On On Avery Island Mangum’s unique vocal style and the band’s quirky but playful arrangements create a carnival atmosphere of moods ranging from excitement, suspense and melodrama.

After the release of On Avery Island, Neutral Milk Hotel became a fully-fledged band, as Julian Koster, Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes joined Mangum, the band now being based in New York . Soon after this, they moved to Athens, Georgia, where many of Mangum’s friends had begun to settle, and the Elephant 6 recording company began to fully take shape. After this, the band went back to Denver, to record a proper follow up to On Avery Island.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

The band’s second LP, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, released in 1998, is notable as a critically acclaimed work and a widely popular recording. It is a spiritually motivated work, conceptually based on the beauty to be found in the horrific fate of Anne Frank and similarly overwhelming tragedies. (Mangum has, during live performances, including the one released under the title “Live at Jittery Joe’s”, described some of the songs off this album as based on urgent, recurring dreams he had of a European family during the 1940s.) The album was highly praised by critics for its wildly inventive instrumentation and Mangum’s provocative and impassioned lyrics. Although it met with scant response from the general public when it was released, the recording has continued to gain momentum in music circles and has become a cult classic, selling well over 100,000 copies according to Merge Records. However, the record along with the year of constant touring that succeeded it took its toll on Mangum. The band quite abruptly went on hiatus turning down all requests for shows, including a support slot for R.E.M.. All of a sudden the band appeared to go silent and very little has been heard from Mangum since 1999.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Becoming a lover of all things Jesus Christ, a How-to Guide

Firstly, buy a Vinyl copy of NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL'S IN THE AEROPLANE OVER THE SEA. Secondly, Read Anne Frank's smashingly good novel THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL.
Thirdly, drink PBR until you're good and drunk.
Lastly, you need to listen to the second track of the previously mentioned record, OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER.

A small taste of the results:


First post, big day. I'll start by posting a history of Neutral Milk Hotel. Here's part one.

Jeff Mangum, along with high-school friends Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss, formed The Olivia Tremor Control, with Mangum appearing on their first release, the California Demise 7".
Prior to recording for friends under the NMH moniker, Mangum recorded a few cassettes under the name Milk; the most well-known of these tapes was called Pygmie Barn in E Minor. These are the earliest known recordings that Mangum initiated and executed himself. There were only an estimated dozen or so copies ever made of this tape, none of which has been made public. It was revealed circa 2006 on the Elephant 6 online forums that another tape under said name, entitled Beauty, was released, along with several recordings under the name Rubby Bulbs (also a song dating from that era, perhaps the only Milk song to be played by Neutral Milk Hotel).
Neutral Milk Hotel began simply as a recording project for Mangum, in the early 1990s. He produced several demo cassettes, among them 1991's Invent Yourself a Shortcake, 1992's Beauty (not to be confused with the earlier cassette), and 1993's Hype City Soundtrack, along with two more from this period, seemingly unnamed. Although easily found on the Internet, these demos capture the project at a very embryonic stage: songs are played in between various sound collages and tape experiments, one of which consists only of a six minute conversation between Mangum and Hart. Another track, "Digestion Machine", features a varied collage of voices answering the question asked by Mangum, "What does the digestion machine mean to you?" The more accessible "Synthetic Flying Machine", also titled "Up and Over", later became "The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3" on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
During this period, Mangum was wandering the country, staying in the closets of friends, and in a state of perpetual unemployment. It was in these circumstances that the band's first formal releases took shape. Strictly speaking, however, the 'band' usually consisted of Mangum and whoever else was present at the time. This is obvious on Neutral Milk Hotel's first release, a 7" record entitled Everything Is, recorded when Mangum was spending time in Seattle, Washington, released on Cher Doll Records in 1994.