Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3

Jeff Mangum’s “Neutral Milk Hotel” was the third founding wing in the Elephant 6 Collective.  If the Apples in Stereo represented the happy side of the Beatles, and Olivia Tremor Control were the, ahh, trippier side of the Beatles, then Neutral Milk Hotel was Elephant 6’s approximation of Blonde on Blonde’s Bob Dylan.  Mangum’s breakthrough record, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, was produced by founding Apple Robert Schneider, who matched Mangum’s intensely personal songs about childhood, sex, and death, with a New Orleans marching band on acid.  The album also is said to contain a loose concept concerning Anne Frank, World War II, and the holocaust.  While the lyrics are very abstract and practically impenetrable, Mangum sings them with such clarity and emotion, that somehow, these themes are evoked.  When the album was released in 1998, it was a smash hit in the indie world, and Mangum was in high demand.  Having sold over 200,000 copies of the LP, and offered an opening slot for fellow Athens natives R.E.M., Mangum decided to go into recluse mode, effectively breaking up the band, and only making sporadic live appearances in the last 13 years.  It is rumored that he is on the verge of releasing some new material through this website,  http://walkingwallofwords.com, where you can stream the song “Little Birds (Unfinished Version 2),” a haunting psych ballad.  Besides that track, you can also listen to two of the strongest tracks from his now legendary album below.  The first song is the title track of the LP, is a swirling emotional journey through the sky, and the second, “King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3,” is just as adventurous and bizarre.  A lot of people either love or hate this band, but I fall somewhere in the middle.  I’m intrigued by Mangum’s obvious talent and singing style, but have always wanted more songs to get a more complete picture of the guy.  As it is, there exists only two records, some scattered songs, and not much else, which creates a scattered portrait of man only really known by his close friends. I actually think that’s a pretty cool feet for a musicians like Mangum.  Stay tuned tomorrow as we begin to explore the E6’s auxiliary members!

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