One day as I was walking out of a parking garage in downtown Elgin, my dad and I spotted a pair of street performers. It consisted of two men, one on guitar and one playing an awkwardly small toy drum kit.
As we walked past, my dad placed some spare change in the young mans guitar case. When we were walking away from the two men, my dad said, “That was a Neutral Milk Hotel song they were playing.” I responded to him as if I knew exactly what he was talking about, but in all honesty, I had no clue who Neutral Milk Hotel was.
However, I was truly intrigued by the name of the band. When we got to our destination, Rediscover Records, my dad pointed out a record of Neutral Milk Hotel’s.
Weeks later a song came on my Modest Mouse Pandora station, the song was “King Of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2&3.” The band was Neutral Milk Hotel. I immediately had to youtube them because of my mission to find as much music as possible. The sounds that came from the guitar, and the lyrics that were being sung instantly had me hooked.
Neutral Milk Hotel was a band from Ruston, Louisiana. Formed by Jeff Mangum and consisting of Scott Spillane, Jeremy Barnes, Julian Koster, and Jeff himself. The band released two studio albums “On Avery Island” (1996) and “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” (1998), and two ep’s “Everything is” (1994) and “Ferris Wheel On Fire” (2011).
The band broke up in 1999, but has since gotten back together in 2013. They have also played a few small shows, each time Jeff request that the crowd does not film the performances.
For a band with only two full length albums, the band has created quite the cult like following. If you talk to anyone who knows the band, they always have little to no bad things to say about them. Songs like “Two Headed Boy” and “Oh Comely” capture the listener, and take them through lyrical journey. A journey filled with fuzzy folk guitar riffs and a mixture of sounds that keep you asking for more.
Their second full length album was the album that truly got them the attention they have today. From front to back, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is an amazing album. The only highs and lows of the album are the emotional ones. It takes you through a rollercoaster of feelings, at some points you want to cry and others you want to jump around and dance.
One of the most important things about this band was their sound. Some call it Fuzz Folk, and that is a pretty good description of the style of music. Before the band came onto the scene, no one else sounded like this. The closest thing you had was a band like Sun Volt or an artist like Bob Dylan.
I am on the butt end of a trend with this band. I am too young to really have know what they were like, or the influence they had when they first came out. In the end it does not matter, because their music is timeless. They pioneered a style of music and attracted listeners in coffee shops around the world.