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On Avery Island

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Album Review

Like their Elephant 6 labelmates and kindred spirits Olivia Tremor Control's Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle, Neutral Milk Hotel's debut, On Avery Island, is an inscrutable concept album, a chronicle of an insular world told in a remarkably universal language. A fuzzy masterpiece of experimental lo-fi recording, the album wraps its ragged pop songs in ribbons of loops, marching-band squawks, and Casio noodling; the opener, "Song Against Sex," is as much a manifesto as a kickoff, a self-propelled marvel hopped up on rapid-fire wordplay and a stunningly ramshackle melody punctuated by bloated trombone moans. Throughout the record, Jeff Mangum's wheels threaten to fly off at any time — his songs are cryptic and crazed, his ideas fast and furious, and together they force the home-recording concept out of the basement and into a brave new world.

Customer Reviews

One of the greatest

Not for everyone, but definately for me. Definately one of those bands where you either hate them or love them. You'll either think Jeff Mangum is a genius or insane, like his voice or think he's dying, find it inspiring or depressing. If you are thinking of purchasing, I would definately buy a song, leave it in your library for a while, then, if you like, try some others.

Pure Genius

I seem to be in the minority, but I prefer this album to "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." Yes, "On Avery Island" is rough around the edges. But who cares?... the lucid images, fuzzy sounds, and haunting melodies Mangum created in a sleep-deprived state seem almost divinely inspired. The most amazing example is probably "Gardenhead/ Leave Me Alone," with its "city of frost-covered angels" culled straight from the subconscious of a genius.

On Avery Island

"On Avery Island" is the precursor to "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (sic)", which has reached cult status for this highly influential 90's indie-folk-rock-outfit, who were at the core of the Elepahant 6 collective based in Athens, GA. On Avery Island should be viewed as a developmental showcase for a band that were about to create something magnificent. It still features Jeff Mangum's hauntingly spiritual voice and eccentric lyrical genius but where Aeroplane features beautifuly arranged multi-instrumentality Avery is more about distant guitar wash and a home grown garage-y feel.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

The self-described "fuzz-folk" project Neutral Milk Hotel was one of the primary outgrowths of the Elephant 6 Recording Company collective, a coterie of like-minded lo-fi indie groups — including the Apples in Stereo, the Olivia Tremor Control, and Secret Square — who shared musicians, ideas, and sensibilities. While ranging in sound and concept from solo acoustic work to full-band performances, Neutral Milk Hotel essentially remained the work of Jeff Mangum, a singer/songwriter from...
Full Bio