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April 2nd, 2014 PETE COTTELL | Music Stories
 

Show Preview: Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power, the Minders

music_neutralmilkhotel_4022NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL - IMAGE: Will Westbrook
[FUZZY FREAK FOLK] Time has left few stones unturned in the wake of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 psych-folk masterpiece. The blown-out, kitchen-sink orchestration and mind-fuck lyrical content (Lust! Vegetables! The Holocaust!) made the record an obvious college-rock classic, but the coffers of Aeroplane’s legend have mostly been cleared in the 16 years since it originally bloomed in the consciousness of America’s then-unborn “freak-folk” scene. 

  

Singer and mastermind Jeff Mangum became a hermit, residual members carried on with other Athens, Ga., Elephant 6 projects, and the vault was sealed on one of the most inimitable standouts in underground music since Trout Mask Replica. Then Mangum started playing solo again a few years ago, eventually resurrecting the whole band, and now the album is once again a topic of discussion. A less-explored thread worth following in the folklore of Aeroplane is its relationship with Merge Records, the venerable indie label that put the record out at the zenith of the pre-Internet CMJ era. Stylistic cues aside, your favorites from indie heavy-hitters like Spoon, Arcade Fire and She & Him may not have existed without Aeroplane. “Every fall, kids head off to college and decide it’s their job to own a copy of Aeroplane on vinyl,” a friend who works at Merge once told me. “It’s not Arcade Fire money, but it’s kept the lights on long enough for us to be there when Arcade Fire decided to shop for a label.” If nothing else, consider zoning out to “The King of Carrot Flowers, Pts. 2-3” your due diligence to the livelihood of indie rock.

SEE IT: Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., 225-0047. 8:30 pm Sunday-Monday, April 6-7. Sold out. All ages.
 
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