Fuzzy, psychedelic folk is all the rage these days. Nobody's complaining. Who wouldn't like pensive lyrics, fuzzed-out guitars, and galaxy-size reverb halls? At some point, young bands stopped gently hitting xylophones and baby-whispering (think every commercial c. 2010-12) and just got plain-old freaky. This is a good development.
It would be easy to link them all back to Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan. And, sure, the bearded vanguard would cite them as influences. But there were steps along the way. One of those touchstones is Neutral Milk Hotel. Before Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, there was Neutral Milk Hotel.
Members of the scene associated with the Elephant 6 Recording Company, the band formed in the 1990s around the peripatetic lifestyle and cassette aesthetic of Jeff Mangum. Mangum's experimental mixtapes gained notoriety and led to the band's first LP, On Avery Island in 1996. 1998's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was based on the life of Anne Frank.
The band went on hiatus in 1998 and returned to live performance in April of this year. Over the decade-and-a-half of inactivity, their music was covered by Bon Iver and Mountain Goats. — Joe Boone
Neutral Milk Hotel with Elf Power at Minglewood Hall on Friday, October 18th, at 9 p.m.