Jeff Mangum at Irvine Auditorium 1/25/12. Tickets go on sale in FIVE MINUTES, purchase them HERE.
RADIO EXILE: The story of Neutral Milk Hotel’s short existence has been told and told well (see Kim Cooper’s wonderful 33 1/3 book on the subject). What is untold, and in many respects, far more interesting, is the influence of Neutral Milk Hotel. There are five major themes that spring forth from Neutral Milk Hotel that you see repeated time and time again. Jeff Mangum and his crew did not synthesize these themes; all existed prior to the formation of the band in the mid-‘90’s. But, going back to the black hole analogy, all the matter in the universe existed before it collapsed into a singular point in space and time. Similarly, these five pre-existing themes all collapsed into a singularity known as Neutral Milk Hotel before they were expelled outward into the musical universe, altered and defined by the impact of Neutral Milk Hotel. MORE
BONUS TRACK: Wilco – “King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1? [mp3]
PREVIOUSLY: Of all the bands to come out of the Elephant 6 collective — that loose-knit cross-country cabal of weedy bus-station transcendentalists and grass-stained pranksters — Neutral Milk Hotel was the least beholden to classic psych-rock templates, yet somehow managed to evoke and advance them all at once. On 1998’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Jeff Mangum’s mewling sunshine Superman melodies are colored by bare, ruined choirs of singing saw, fuzz bass, mariachi horns, bowed banjo, accordion, home organ and Salvation Army marching band brass. Produced by the Apples in Stereo’s Robert Schneider, these harrowing, heart-tugging tunes follow Mangum’s fractured yelp, soaring on wax wings toward the sun only to crashland softly on a surrealistic pillow of sound fashioned out of enough obscure instrumentation to give your average ethnomusicologist a Viagra woody–zanzithophone, euphonium, uilleann pipes and a shortwave radio. Like Jack with his magic beans, Neutral Milk Hotel proved that with little more than a pocketful of seeds and stems, you could grow a beanstalk to heaven. – JONATHAN VALANIA