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Neutral Milk Hotel is an American indie rock band formed by singer, guitarist and songwriter Jeff Mangum in the late 1980s. Their music takes the form of psychedelic folk and lo-fi.
Neutral Milk Hotel is the brainchild of Jeff Mangum, and on the band’s two full-length albums, Mangum played with a number of other musicians such as Jeremy Barnes on the drums, Scott Spillane on horns and Julian Koster on the musical saw, banjo, accordion and bass guitar. The band started in Ruston, Louisiana, United States as a side project for Mangum. He produced a handful of demo cassettes such as “Invent Yourself a Shortcake”, “Beauty” and “Hype City Soundtrack.” These are the very early stages of NMH. Around this time, Mangum was wandering around the country, sofa surfing in a state of permanent unemployment. It is reflected in their first release entitled “Everything Is”, which was recorded in Seattle, Washington and released on “Cher Doll Records” in 1994.
“On Avery Island” was the first full-length album, which was released on March 26th 1996 on Merge Records. Through Mangum’s distinctive style of singing, and the bands playfully experimental arrangements, it painted the picture of a carnival atmosphere of moods from excitement, suspense and melodrama. Neutral Milk Hotel by this point became a solid band with Koster, Spillane and Barnes officially joining the band. They moved from city to city, from New York to Athens, Georgia, and then off to Denver to record their sophomore full-length album.
It was their follow up album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” that took this band to new heights, released on February 10th 1998, on Blue Rose Records in the UK. It became the sixth best selling vinyl album in 2008, and was ranked at #2 in Amazon.com’s 100 Greatest Indie Albums of All Time. Q Magazine ranked it at #16 of the Top 30 Album of the Past 25 Years in 2010.
They didn’t release another album until “Ferris Wheel on Fire” on December 12th 2011, and then went on various tours including a fall reunion tour with their original “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” line up. In April 2014, the Boston Calling music festival line up was announced, which included Neutral Milk Hotel.