Entries tagged with: Neutral Milk Hotel
A magical show happened Saturday night at a loft in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn (at a space also known as The Schoolhouse when it throws shows).
Jeff Mangum, as he said at the show, is thinking of playing out again. He already played a rare 5-song set back in May at the Chris Knox benefit at Le Poisson Rouge (LPR), but he wanted to test out playing live a bit more so his friend set up this last minute show for about 75 lucky attendees, many who were invited just hours before it started, and who were sworn to secrecy and asked very strongly that no visual evidence of the show be posted anywhere afterwards. Like at LPR, there was supposed to be no pictures and no video, and like after LPR, audio evidence quickly appeared online. Word continues to spread.
Brooklyn electro-trio Forma live in, or are associated somehow with, the space, and they opened the show. Definitely check them out if you have a chance, like at TANDEM (246 Troutman Street, Brooklyn) on December 11.
Jeff, dressed in his signature red and black flannel, played 10 Neutral Milk Hotel songs on two different guitars and a microphone. He went on around 9:45pm, and was in top form, bringing many to tears as he opened with 'Oh Comely' followed by 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'. The acoustics in the spacious industrial-looking 3-story-high room were ideal for his powerful voice. He modestly thanked the crowd multiple times and asked for forgiveness for not being good with stage banter. Many were seated, with their jackets still on in the chilly room with a small stage and PA set up in it. Everyone was standing and warm though, and cheering, as the show ended and Jeff said thank you and good night after ending with 'Two Headed Boy Pt. 2'. Full setlist below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Music Tapes in Bed-Stuy Dec. 17 2009 (more by Sarah Mulligan)
Julian Koster and The Music Tapes will be delivering lullabies at bedsides from bedroom to bedroom, and house to house in Boston, New York and Philadelphia in August. Featuring new songs as well as some of the gentler songs from Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes and the 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, lucky hosts will be visited at the bedtime hour by the most lulling of music tapes songs, by the sounds of the glowing and enchanting "Ghost Orchestra," Singing Saws, Stories, and so forth.[Merge]Similar to their annual holiday caroling tour (though on a less-road-intensive scale), Julian & the Music Tapes will be visiting houses and apartments in Boston, New York and Philadelphia this August. In each city, they'll also be playing a game of "St. Nikolai the Wonder Worker's Wishing Game of Candles" at a secret location.
The 2009 Holiday Tour packed a number of New York stops into two days. Check out our long-lost review/post on those below.
Dates and info on how to invite the tour (and get invited) are below too....
Video from Saturday night's show at Merriweather Post Pavillion below...
DOWNLOAD: Neutral Uke Hotel - King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1 (MP3)
Singer & guitarist/ukuleleist Shawn Fogel of the band Golden Bloom is Neutral Uke Hotel, a ukulele-based project that covers Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over the Sea in its entirety. He has a short tour lined up for the end of June with stops in NYC, NXNE in Toronto, upstate NY and a few other North East cities. He plays Mercury Lounge with The Handsome Family on Tuesday, June 15th where he writes, "We've got at least one special guest joining us for a song." Tickets are still on sale.
Fogel previously participated in "Beatles Complete on Ukulele" project, which performed at SXSW earlier this year.
Jeff Mangum played some of his Neutral Milk Hotel songs earlier this year at a benefit for Chris Knox.
Download "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1," the uke & melodica cover which is posted above. Videos of the NMH cover and all tour dates are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
I snuck this picture of the t-shirt...
"Chris Knox (born September 2, 1952) is a New Zealand rock and roll musician, cartoonist, and DVD reviewer who emerged during the punk rock era with his bands The Enemy and Toy Love. After Toy Love disbanded in the early 1980s, he formed the group Tall Dwarfs with guitarist Alec Bathgate, much loved for their honest, unpolished sound and intense live shows. His 4-track machine was used to record most of the early Flying Nun singles." [Wiki]Jeff Mangum played a set of Neutral Milk Hotel songs for the first time in nine years at the benefit for his friend, musician Chris Knox, last night, Thursday, May 6th. From opener "Oh Comely" to encore "Engine," and "A Baby For Pree," "Two Headed Boy Pt. Two" and "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" in between, Mangum's voice was clear and strong as he sang from a chair into microphones set up a few feet away. Most of the audience looked somewhere between giddy excitement and shock. Some quietly sang along, others broke out into tears - one person choked on frantic, shallow breaths as "Oh Comely" climaxed, another stood with his hand over his gaping mouth, unable to move.
A few photos were furtively snapped in defiance of the posted signs, but most were content to just listen. Though "just listen" doesn't really describe the gasps, tears and unending applause. Mangum played with his eyes mostly closed, neck vein tensed, rocking and swooping to the contours of the songs. His eyelids fluttered open on the chorus of "A Baby for Pree" to reveal eyes rolled back into his head. Between songs Mangum gulped down water and was gracious, bordering on triumphant as he popped up at the end of "Aeroplane." He encouraged the crowd to contribute to the encore, "Engine." After the set, someone caught his attention with a book to sign, which he did. Most people up front looked anxious and ready for a post-show smoke.
It was fitting maybe that the bill for Mangum's last show, in 2001 in New Zealand, was with Chris Knox, who suffered a stroke in 2009. Though Jeff Mangum was a clear pinnacle, the rest of the benefit gig was an engaging, full evening which covered 12 bands and 2 comedians, and ran more than five and a half hours (though at least 1/3 of the venue cleared out after Mangum's 8:50pm set). The show ended at 1am, amazingly, exactly as scheduled.
Coasting (set time: 6:20pm) opened up with appropriately coastal guitar sounds and surefire drums, Sharon Van Etten played three songs with nuanced dynamics on electric guitar. The Magnetic Fields' Claudia Gonson played only one song as a trebly synth trio to cover "Beauty" which the band does on the Chris Knox tribute CD Stroke.
Robert Scott (of the Clean) and TVOTR's Kyp Malone (aka Rain Machine) both played solo guitar sets. Kyp, who told the crowd they should check out the new Devendra Banhart video (he checked it out in a cafe because he doesn't have internet), was joined by Emilyn Brodsky for what he said was a Bob Marley cover. Rachel Feinstein did raunchy comedy.
After that, there was New Zealand band Dimmer (who are in town for a while), The Mad Scene (Hamish Kilgour of the Clean's other band), David Kilgour of The Clean (backed by Yo La Tengo and one other band member) and comedy from John Mulaney (who killed it) (and who you may have seen doing a bit about girl scout cookies on a recent episode of SNL).
"Portastatic" was Mac backed by Yo La Tengo. They closed with Superchunk's "Slack Motherfucker" complete with windmill guitar moves and pogoing from some of the crowd (even though the concert was going into its fifth hour at this point). Yo La Tengo, with extra member David Kilgour on guitar, covered a Chris Knox song, said many kind words about Chris and closed with two songs from their 1993 album Painful, which Chris Knox contributed art work to.
The Clean, who Ira introduced as the greatest band in the world, and who'd already been up several times as their solo bands, closed the night right, both jangly and poppy. And despite the mass exodus after Jeff, a respectable amount of people were still there right until the last song. Catch the Clean again (if you have a ticket because it's sold out) at The Bell House tonight (5/7).
Editor's note: Ben Goldberg did an amazing job organizing the event, keeping scalpers away, and making sure that pretty much every person in that venue (except maybe the bartenders) paid their $75 donation to Chris Knox to get in the door (or $20 if you showed up after Jeff went off). Ben did less of an amazing job during his pre-Yo La Tengo stand up routine, but nobody's perfect!
Illegally shot (not by us!) audio and video from the event, and the new Devendra Banhart video, and Jeff Mangum's setlist again, below...
DOWNLOAD: Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power & the Amorphous Strums - And How (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power & the Amorphous Strums - Teddy Bear (MP3)
"I flew around a little room once." A line from Supernatural.
He was just that. He possessed an unearthly energy and
yet was humanistic with the common man in mind. He was
entirely present and entirely somewhere else. A mystical
somewhere else. A child and an old guy as he called himself.
Before he made an album he said he was a bum. Now he
is in flight bumming round beyond the little room. With his
-Patti Smith dec 25 2009
"in 1991 i moved to athens georgia in search of god, but what I discovered instead was vic chesnutt. hearing his music completely transformed the way i thought about writing songs, and i will forever be in his debt."
-jeff mangum, neutral milk hotel
Kristin Hersh also wrote something & is taking donations for Vic's family.
Michael Stipe also publicly acknowledged the sad news.
A video interview with Vic where he talks about being a bum, Michael Stipe, dying, his new band and more, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Nana Grizol @ Cake Shop
T.O. Snob: Most of the press material I've seen points out connections between the band and Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power, and other Elephant 6 groups. Based on that association do people approach Nana Grizol's music with certain expectations? If so, what do you believe they are?Athens band Nana Grizol's tour was in town on November 8th for a show at Cake Shop. Even with ex-Neutral Milk Hotel members Laura Carter and Robbie Cucchiaro in the band and Jeff Mangum in the audience, it'd be a mistake to overemphasize the "Elephant 6"-ness of the show. The band is really Theo Hilton's gig, and as a songwriter he has his own direct, personal style. The band too has an urgency about it, with insistent melodies and rotating instruments (that pair up occasionally as double drums and double trumpets). The new album, Ruth, was present in the set list and at the merch table. The above song "For Things That Haven't Come," listed on the setlist as "Ginsburg" maybe for obvious reasons, is characteristic of their basement pop vibe (or maybe farm house pop as the case may be).
Nana Grizol's Theo Hilton: I don't know... I guess we share some personnel with those groups in particular, and pretty much all of us were part of the latest incarnation of the Music Tapes; I love those folks and I feel like in a lot of ways we're going for the same things with our music. I guess what I'd say is that it's so nice to have a LOT of friends who are really fun to collaborate with on musical projects. I don't feel like we personally go out of our way to affiliate or disaffiliate ourselves with any organized collectives or anything, not that Elephant 6 is an organized collective. I just really want to play music with my friends! And share cool weird experiences with them!! I don't think people approach our band with any specific expectations, at least I don't know what they could be, but if anyone decided to check out our band because they like our friends band, and they like our band, then great!
Nana Grizol's current tour continues through November 20th. More pictures from the NYC show and the set list are below.
Music Tapes ringleader Julian Koster (a member of Neutral Milk Hotel who wasn't at Cake Shop last week) will be coming around again this holiday season for an apartment/house tour. Currently the tour runs from December 7th to December 21st with the proposed NYC stops happening toward the end of the trip. But only if you invite them to play - and don't think they won't. Julian & Badger (his saw) unbelievably showed up at my place last year for a short set of songs before disappearing into the night. Even if they don't visit you, you can e-mail for the tour's location in your town. Details on how to do that are below. A track from his The Singing Saw at Christmastime is posted above, with the rough itinerary below...
photos by Ryan Muir
"Collectively, they have a homespun quality, as if still learning how to make do. Three band members played mandolin over the course of the show. Three played drums. On one song Mr. Balthazar put down his guitar and picked up a clarinet. Glockenspiel was used to dramatic effect. A melodica made an appearance." [NY Times]And as the NY Times pointed out, not only can you compare Fanfarlo to Beirut, they share a member! At least they did at these recent shows which included Monday night at Bowery Ballroom, and last night (Tuesday, 9/22) at the Bell House in Brooklyn. The Beirut member in question is Jon Natchez who you can see with his shaved head and beard playing a saxophone in the pictures. Also joining Fanfarlo as a member of their band for this tour was Jeremy Warmsley who was my favorite multi-instrumental member to watch on stage last night. Catch him play his own show at Pianos in NYC tonight (9/23)
Arcade Fire are the second most obvious comparison to Fanfarlo. I probably wouldn't have also thrown Neutral Milk Hotel into the mix... if they hadn't chosen to close their 2-song encore with a cover of "In the Aeroplane over the Sea"! I wasn't a huge fan of the choice, which made me biased before it even began, but it got lots of applause. A video Bill took of it is also making the rounds on the Internet today. You can watch that below.
Speaking of closing their set, they wrapped it up a little early due to throat problems, and according to one member who spoke to Bill after the show, technical problems that they didn't really let the crowd know about. Speaking of the crowd, despite it generally being a stand-there-with-arms-crossed kind of night, people got loud when applauding, and while cheering for the encore.
Like at other shows on the tour, they started the encore with audience participation and plastic tubes...
"I sold on the band when they flipped the switch on those lovely, glowing lights after the first song of their set, but when they came back for an encore and handed out instruments to the crowd (no idea what they're called, but the band had purchased a gaggle of those plastic tubes you swing around your head to make noise), I became a devoted follower of the church of Fanfarlo. Ten or so audience members were whipping these tubes around in the air, and the pitch of the tubes was aligned perfectly with "Comets". Arms got tired, tubes were passed onto other audience members, and it felt like everyone in the room was part of the band." [Seattle Weekly]Wildbirds and Peacedrums opened the show for the second night in a row. It was their 5th show in NYC in a week. Their other three shows were at Bruar Falls, Cake Shop and Le Poisson Rouge.
Fanfarlo's album, Resevoir, is well worth a listen, and as Bill taught me, will be released officially as a CD by Atlantic in October. October is also when they'll be back in NYC to play at least two shows including the BrooklynVegan CMJ showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
More pictures from The Bell House below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Circulatory System - Overjoyed (MP3)
Circulatory System (Nesey standing, left)...
Pure Pop: It seems like the E6 Collective is making a big comeback. The Holiday Suprise Tour, the Music Tapes' caroling tour, [the Music Tapes' regular tour,] Circulatory System's new album [see below] -- it's all really exciting. What's it like to be right in the middle of all this? Do you see great things in E6's future?Like much of the Elephant 6-connected material, the new Circulatory System album, Signal Morning, is a collaborative effort (as is the upcoming tour, more on that in sec). First, the album, headed by Oliva Tremor Control's W. Cullen Hart, features contributions from all the members of that band as well as Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum and Julian Koster. It comes out on CD and MP3 September 8th through Cloud Recordings. For vinyl, you'll have to wait a little longer, but when they ship in October, the first 300 will come with a bonus LP of demo versions and alternate mixes. Check out a track from the record, above.
Nesey Gallons: yes, i do. and its nice to have had a hand in making things happen. that it all worked. and its been an honor to play with everyone and have brer hart ask me to finish his album and everything. its beautiful to see everyone together doing what they ought to, building worlds. im sure a lot of wonderful things will come drifting out of what has reawoken. in the coming year i plan to live in maine and work on a bunch of projects and things ive neglected during this past year. for some reason i have to be alone to really work properly on anything of my own.
The Circulatory System tour this September will host opening acts Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't (the side project of Olivia Tremor Control keyboardist Peter Erchick) and Nesey Gallons (the E6 regular interviewed above). Nesey visited NYC recently, playing banjo with Music Tapes in March and appearing on the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise tour last fall (with Circ. System's Hart and many others).
Those three acts will play NYC's (Le) Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, September 9th. Tickets are on sale now.
A few days later, Circulatory System plays ATP NY.
Nesey also has an album of his own, Eyes & Eyes & Eyes Ago, that's coming out digitally September 8th (October 20th for vinyl) on Hurrah for Karamazov Records. See preview videos for that album, with Circulatory System's album art and tracklist and all tour dates, below...
photos by Beth Hommel, words by Dese'Rae L. Stage
I'm willing to bet that, when Amanda Palmer went back to her high school in the suburbs of Boston to collaborate with mentor and long-time drama teacher Steven Bogart, no one expected it to be heavily press-worthy. I'm also willing to further wager it was unanticipated that the product of said collaboration would pack the 1000-capacity auditorium at Lexington High for every performance [May 7, 8 and 9 at the LHS theater]. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure the only thing I was sure of was that the experience would be exceptionally moving--even to the point of tears. Palmer has proven, time and again, her proclivity for making art of various mediums that pulls at the heartstrings, and this was no exception.
"With the Needle That Sings in Her Heart," the collective brain child of Bogart, Palmer, and the entire cast of twenty drama students from Lexington High School, was inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" and loosely based on Anne Frank's experience in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. If ever there were proof that intention levels the playing ground for making art, this is it. Never in a million years would I have thought that such young kids could create a work that so effectively explores themes of death as cruel, yet somehow compassionate in its inevitability or, not only the existence of a god (or gods, as Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades make a brief appearance in the show), but his very ego, going so far as to assert more than once that any god who could subject his people to such suffering must hate himself. Driving the work was also the concept that imagination can be a powerful tool for survival in extreme adversity, artfully illustrated by Emma Feinberg's portrayal of Anne. Then you have the surrealist bent the piece takes, likely provided not only by the colorful imagery in Jeff Mangum's lyrics, performed almost exclusively by leading man, Alex Parrish, but also attributed to Palmer's experience as a performance artist, which inevitably rubbed off on the entire cast.
Really, the show was amazing. The technical direction was seamless. The set design was complex and fluid. The performances, both musical and theatrical, were on par with--hell, I don't know, but they were so far beyond anything you'd expect from a high school production. I've long thought that, in order to create a moving piece of art, the intention had to be pure, fearless, and had to lack the self-consciousness many of us develop with age. The fact that I can't stop thinking about "With the Needle That Sings in Her Heart" two days later tells me that maybe Bogart and Palmer are on to something.
More pictures below...
photos by Chris La Putt
DOWNLOAD: Bowerbirds - In Our Talons (MP3)
Bowerbirds @ Mercury Lounge
Not to get all TMZ, but according to Indy Week Blogs (who got all TMZ)...
Throughout the evening, a trickle of excited correspondence from members of both bands announced that a special guest had come to watch Bowerbirds' set [at Mercury Lounge]: Neutral Milk Hotel leader/ de facto hermit/ "Salinger of indie rock" Jeff Mangum. There's, of course, little to report about the appearance besides just that--no collaborations, no serious hangouts. Mangum just watched and, between songs, held his beer between his teeth to clap. Maybe he'll come down to Chapel Hill later this year?...which brings us to the carousel. Julian Koster and Jeff Mangum ("on behalf of Neutral Milk Hotel") are working to save the Paragon Carousel in Hull, MA. You can help. Details below.
Bowerbirds' second disc, Upper Air, comes out July 7th on Dead Oceans who said:
"Everyone struggles when they try to describe this music, including us, but we'll try: it has the spirit of Richard and Linda Thompson, the currency of Devendra Banhart, the addictively sweet melodicism of Iron & Wine, but it churns with an underlying energy closer to a Beirut or something farther out, more raw, more wild."Bowerbirds are currently on tour with La Strada. The Neutral Milk Hotel note, more pictures from Mercury Lounge (including one of the setlist), and all tour dates, below...
I am going to be performing in an original play with music titled "WITH THE NEEDLE THAT SINGS IN HER HEART" at lexington high school. the show is inspired by the album "in the aeroplane over the sea" by neutral milk hotel and is being written (and we're almost done!) by me, the cast and my former drama director and mentor, steven bogart.Tickets for With the Needle That Sings in her Heart are on sale now. Palmer has been posting frequent updates on her blog and Twitter account about the production of the show and other tidbits, such as this description:
performances are May 7, 8 and 9 at the LHS theater. doors at 7:30. show at 8. $5 for students. $10 for the general public. come. come come come.
using "in the aeroplane over the sea" by neutral milk hotel as an inspiration, the kids (a cast of 20) have been putting together a play through improvisation. the process started about a month ago and i've been in the last two weeks of rehearsals helping shape the plot and characters and create the musical accompaniment, mostly songs from the record played live. often with me playing the instruments, but the whole cast and some extra musicians will be presenting the music....Palmer's next live show is at Coachella on April 18th. She also has a show scheduled at NYC's Highline Ballroom on Friday, June 5th (tickets on sale April 17th).
As Pitchfork recently reported. Amanda is also making a public effort to get dropped from her Roadrunner Records contract. She even sings a song about it to the tune of "Moon River". Check out the video below. In a letter to Bob Lefsetz she wrote:
my label-dropping game has become very fun. please pray for me.Cellist Zoe Keating, who toured Australia with Palmer in early March, will be performing with Palmer at Coachella. The pair recently covered Muse's "Time Is Running Out" live (video below).
it's a lesson in how the future of music is working - fans are literally (and i mean that....literally) lining up at the signing table after shows and HANDING me cash, saying "thank you".
i had to EXPLAIN to the so-called "head of digital media" of roadrunner australia WHAT TWITTER WAS. and his brush-off that "it hasn't caught on here yet" was ABSURD because the next day i twittered that i was doing an impromptu gathering in a public park and 12 hours later, 150 underage fans - who couldn't attend the show - showed up to get their records signed.
no manager knew! i didn't even warn or tell her! no agents! no security! no venue! we were in a fucking public park!
life is becoming awesome.
Palmer is also releasing a Who Killed Amanda Palmer book -- "a fine art hardback book of "photographic evidence" with contributions from celebrated blogger and photographer Kyle Cassidy, Beth Hommel, Tegan Rain (of Tegan and Sara) and many others. Fictional stories to accompany the photographs have been penned by best-selling author Neil Gaiman." That book will be available for pre-order on Palmer's website starting Monday, April 20th at noon (cover art above).
Full With the Needle That Sings in her Heart press release, plus Palmer singing an impromptu song with John Wesley Harding at SXSW and other videos, and all tour dates, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
The Magnetic Fields @ Loews Theater (more by Chris La Putt)
MCC Theater presents Coraline, a musical with music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields. Merritt's delightfully creepy and playful melodies and droll lyrics tell the story of lonely Coraline's discovery of another parallel world that is identical to her own -- with some scary differences. An animated film version of the story, based on the popular children's book by Neil Gaiman (author of the international sensation Sandman and 2009 winner of the prestigious Newbery Award) is currently in theaters. The production, which was adapted for the stage by celebrated downtown actor/playwright David Greenspan is the world premiere of Coraline for the stage.Tickets for the show are on sale, as are VIP tickets. (There are also student & under-30 rush tickets available the day of each show). Samples of Merritt's Coraline songs can be heard above.
Performances will begin at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, NYC) on May 7 and continue through June 20, 2009. [press release]
In other rock musical news:
Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, featuring direction by Julie Taymor (Across The Universe, Frida, The Lion King on Broadway) with music and lyrics by 22-time Grammy Award-winners Bono and The Edge (from U2) will be holding open casting calls at major cities across the country starting next week. [press release]The NYC audition is scheduled for Monday, April 13th at The Knitting Factory. Details on the casting call and info for other cities, below.
Advance group tickets are already on sale for Spider-Man, set to open February 18, 2010 at the Hilton Theatre.
Other bands with musicals in the works include Green Day, who are turning their 2004 album American Idiot in a Broadway show. About the adaptation, Billie Joe said to Entertainment Weekly:
It's about coming of age in a really politically-driven climate. It's pretty chaotic, and it's not by any means a conventional way of [doing] a musical. And that's why I liked [American Idiot director] Michael Mayer so much because of what he did with Spring Awakening. When I saw that for the first time I was like, this is not your grandparents' musical. He's going for it. He has a sense of anarchy in the way he approaches his craft.Those aren't the only acts making the switch: Yeasayer guitarist Anand Wildeis working on a musical as well. And Amanda Palmer is in the process of producing an Airplane Over the Sea-themed high-school play, opening May 7th at Lexington High School in Lexington, MA.
Will the show have dancing?
Not "dancing" dancing. I don't know how to really explain it. It's got physical and violent moves. It's not like a Lion King thing. It's dirty and it's got a lot of heart and it's got a street mentality. There are no singing cats. No little girls with big curly red hair. It should be pretty cool, man.
Full Spider-Man press release below...
words by Andrew Frisicano, photos by Tim Griffin
"The big event was when julian came out in to the audience and asked everyone to sit around him. I didn't catch all of what he was saying, as he was un-mic'd, but he handed out paper and pens to everyone (from a plastic camel attached to the end of a broomstick - of course) and asked them to write down a memory on a piece of paper, and that afterward we'd all go outside and burn it. Seemed nice enough. Until everyone was outside. 11 degrees feeling like -3 with the wind. Brrrr....as the fires 'raged' in the pot, Julian lined everyone up and they proceeded to run and jump over the burning paper in a pot. Admittedly it was all very engaging and charming, however ...we were outside for at least 15 minutes, which was more than enough to make my hands completely numb. I was grateful to go back inside, where Julian and Co. finished out the set and the evening."In other Neutral Milk Hotel related news, A Hawk and A Hacksaw - Jeremy Barnes (ex-NMH like Julian from Music Tapes) and Heather Trost, will be touring as a four-piece, accompanied by Mark Weaver on tuba and Samuel Johnson on trumpet. They'll visit SXSW on Thursday, March 19, before opening for Andrew Bird, and then Wilco across North America, and then touring the UK in June.
AHAAH's fourth album, Délivrance, is set for release on The Leaf Label on May 18. Its first single, "Foni Tu Argile," comes out April 27th as a digital download and a "limited edition of 500 hand-numbered 10" singles, cut at 78rpm, with packaging that replicates the shellac records of old." (The song is streaming now at the band's Myspace. )
All Music Tapes pics (and setlist) and AHAAH tour dates below...
by Andrew Frisicano
The Music Tapes @ a CMJ show (more by Kyle Dean Reinford)
The Music Tapes played Maxwell's in Hoboken on Sunday (3/1), and for those who missed the criminally under attended show (maybe something to do with the weather), you're in luck - they'll be back in town on Tuesday (tonight, 3/3) playing the Bell House with the same lineup of opening acts: musical mad scientist Brian Dewan and upbeat Elephant 6-ers Nana Grizol. Tickets are still available, and we're giving away a pair of tickets. Details below.
For the show at Maxwell's, I trekked through the blowing snow to arrive in Hoboken, a place that seems to have frozen in time the most picturesque parts of every U.S. small town. Inside the show space, hidden past the club's front restaurant-bar area, 40-50 brave concertgoer gathered around the stage, where second-act Nana Grizol rocked with warming exuberance. (I missed opener Brian Dewan - more on him later, though.)
Nana Grizol's eight-strong lineup crammed the stage, which was crowded with 7-Foot Tall Metronome and Static the Singing TV standing at attention for the upcoming Music Tapes set. But first, the Athens, GA, band shared songs and swapped instruments, which included guitar, bass, and two drum sets. One member switched from clarinet to trumpet to melodica with ease. The horn section expanded into three trumpet harmonies, then contracted to a single euphonium. The bulk of the songs were fronted by Theo Hilton, who sang with a kind of Promise Ring innocence in his voice. The roaring, clanking sound convinced me to shell out for a copy of their 2008 Orange Twin recording, Love It Love It.
Between bands, opener Brian Dewan set up a projector and screened a short film so good it made me wish I trudged out sooner to catch his solo set. The hand-drawn animated slides that populated the film told a short history of civic pride, coyly poking fun at the structures of society by connecting scenes of Aztec ritual sacrifice, paying taxes, and odious parking meters into a modern parable that paid homage to archaic public service videos. Each frame change was announced with a studious "plonk."
Shortly after, The Music Tapes took the stage, borrowing most of Nana Grizol's members (or maybe vice-versa). Julian Koster, as always, fronted the band with a banjo and saw. Elephant 6-regular Nesey Gallons also played banjo - in all, a lot of the Elephant 6 holiday tour seemed to be on board. On "Aliens," Dewan even joined the band, playing one of his homemade Melody Gins, a knob-covered oscillator contraption.
Koster played many of the same songs he did at the band's Mercury Lounge CMJ show: "Freeing Song for Reindeer,"
"Majesty," "Song for Oceans Falling," "Orchestra's Orchestration" and "What the Television Tells Us" (the latter two with props). A number of the songs started with just Koster and ended in double-drums, double-distorted banjo noise. On "Song for the Death of Parents," Koster played percussion by bouncing a kickball on a soup kettle with a microphone hidden underneath in a perfect melding of theme and medium.
Julian came into the crowd to play a singing-saw version of "The First Noel" and a song on his tiny electric organ, before returning to the stage and closing the show with "Manifest Destiny." (He also promised to play a crowd game with bells on Tuesday at the Bell House.)
Live, The Music Tapes continue to be one of the most consistently entertaining bands around. The scratchy, distorted sound of its recordings (can a singing saw's sound actually be recorded?), while interesting, drastically understates the buoyant joy and enigmatic energy of Koster and Co. in person.
Besides at tonight's Bell House show, New Yorkers can catch Brian Dewan when he performs a free set with his homemade-instrument project, Dewanatron (with cousin Leon), at the opening of Pierogi Gallery (177 N 9th St, Brooklyn) on Saturday, March 7, 9pm.
Video and contest details below...
words & photos by Natasha Ryan
The duo from New Mexico quietly emerged from the side of the stage and began playing to each other in the middle of the floor. The giddy audience started snapping photos and wondered out loud, "are they going to do the whole set here?" After the second song the band made their way on stage and Jeremy Barnes (ex-Neutral Milk Hotel and one half of A Hack and a Hacksaw) shared his enthusiasm for the brand new accordion he'd just purchased earlier that day. The pulsing, frantic Balkan sounds of the duo transformed the entire room into fluctuations of silent awe and pandemonium. Barnes was an eight-armed beast, hitting cymbals and playing percussion while attacking the accordion. Heather Trost broke a string towards the end of the set, but pulled on it for some interesting effects. the occasional shrieks in a definitively instrumental set elevated the hypnotizing beats to the climatic point of the night, and the set ended as suddenly as it began. - Natasha RyanZach Condon was nowhere to be found, but Jeremy's old bandmate Jeff Mangum was reportedly there to take in the show by A Hawk and A Hacksaw Saturday night at Mercury Lounge (1/10). Someone else said they also saw Julian Koster.
It was one of two shows AHAAH played in NYC this weekend. The second was last night (Sunday, January 11th) at Union Hall in Brooklyn. More pictures from Mercury Lounge below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Julian Koster & friends in a NYC apartment
The European-folk-music-influenced duo of ex-Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, is set to play two upcoming NYC shows - January 10th at Mercury Lounge (tix), with Great Lake Swimmers, and January 11th at Union Hall (tix).
Barnes didn't turn out for the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise tour earlier this winter, and so far these are A Hawk and a Hacksaw's only announced 2009 dates.
With H&H, there's always the possibility of a Beirut-related appearance, as they've worked & toured together, and are on the same label (Badabing. There's even video evidence of previous collabs (see below). Zach Condon recently appeared unannounced at an Inlets show, and Beirut are playing three NYC shows in February (ahem, for now).
In other NMH-stalking news - a while back BV reported that the Music Tapes Caroling tour would be making its way north from Georgia through New York to Maine playing living rooms and houses along the route. Fans were encouraged to invite "Julian and his friends" to their house. I [Andrew] did so, and strangely enough, on December 13th, Julian, Rudolph (dog) and Badger (musical saw) stopped by at my place with a few other friends in tow for a set of saw-sung carols, fantasical stories and a couple Music Tapes banjo tunes - all performed solo next to the Christmas tree. Even with the show's short notice - I'd just gotten an email that morning with details - about ten to fifteen fans showed up for the event. After the set, Julian paused for a few snapshots (see above) and left as quickly as he had came - I unfortunately wasn't able to follow the traveling party to the next apartment. Jesse Jarnow, contributer to the Voice, attended and wrote up the event on that blog.
Julian was recently featured on NPR's Morning Edition, which commented that The Singing Saw at Christmastime's layered saws "capture just a bit of bone-chilling terror -- just right for these uncertain times." On Christmas day, Julian and friends gave an interview and performed live for NPR's World Cafe. If you missed it, you can listen to it now at their site.
In addition to the date above, Great Lake Swimmers are also playing the Bell House in Brooklyn January 9th (tix) with Haley Bonar & Daniel Martin Moore, and a Feburary 7th date in Guelph, Ontario, near their home base of Toronto, for the Hillside Festival.
Video of Beirut playing with Hawk & A Hacksaw, and all dates, below...
photos by Kyle Dean Reinford, words by Andrew Frisicano
I was running late to the Merge showcase Saturday night (10/25), but luckily caught The Music Tapes in the middle the fantastic rendition of "An Orchistration's Overture," a duet between frontman Julian Koster and a TV-headed robot (who appeared on stage across from a 7-foot wooden metronome). The Music Tapes songs sounded great live, with support from a 3-piece horn section, accordian, banjo and, of course, singing saw (featured exclusively on The Singing Saw at Christmastime). On "Song for the Death of Parents," Julian played a bouncing ball as percussion; other late-set tunes included "Aliens," "Songs for Oceans Falling," and, as the closer, a solo performance of "Manifest Destiny."
Julian mentioned afterward that the band might return to NYC in February. As of now, the Music Tapes are tentatively scheduled for a local December 12 stop on their Christmas caroling tour. The NYC date is listed as "game only," which may indicate some kind of secret show, like the one held in Central Park last year (as discussed on the Elephant 6 Message Board). See below for full info on how to get your carol on, or look for updates at Orbiting Human Circus.
The Music Tapes' last NYC show (before this CMJ one) was part of the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise tour at Knitting Factory. More CMJ pictures (and those caroling dates) below...
Jeff Mangum plays in Pittsburgh on October 18, 2008 (Hughshows)
Neutral Milk Hotel was performed with Jeff Mangum on vocals last night in Pittsburgh....
Photos by Lori Baily
Yes, Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum appeared, but as someone pointed out, that was just five minutes of of a 2.5 hour Elephant 6 collective show that also included two other members of Neutral Milk Hotel, one of whom (Julian) also performed at The Music Tapes. There were also NMH's Scott Spillane and members of Olivia Tremor Control (and OTC songs) plus "Circulatory System, Gerbils, Elf Power, Nana Grizol, Nesey Gallons" and more...
have to agree that the show was overall pretty amazing...a little unfortunate that mangum didn't do any of his own songs, but it was a great surprise for him to even be there...he did seem quite pissed off in general though and especially when he was trying ot tussle with the big guy on stage...but what do i know....the one guy peaking/tweaking out on stage talking to himself was kinda weird..yea that afraid song was really good as well as the first song mangum came out for with the tuba...also really thought the drummer with the curly hair did some nice ones too... [anonymous]More pictures from Saturday night's show below...
Jeff Mangum @ Knitting Factory, NYC - Oct 11, 2008 (jbeauchamp)
As everyone hoped/expected, Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum made another one of his mysterious appearances at the NYC stop on the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour. It happened at Knitting Factory Saturday night. Anonymous said he was on stage for "for about 5 minutes total out of a 2.5 hour show". Cait wrote in with this description...
Jeff Mangum walked onstage 3 times last night at the amazing Elephant 6 collective show -- first just for the chorus of a song, about halfway through, then again for just a chorus, and finally at the last song ("The Opera House" by Olivia Tremor Control, before the encores) when he went NUTS and sang for the whole song. He was jumping around and sort of tackled Scott Spillane halfway through and put him in a headlock. He had the most intense look in his eyes the whole time he was on stage. Everyone chanted "Jeff Jeff Jeff", and someone was yelling for songs from Aeroplane ("anything from that album!!! you have to!!") but all we got from that album was Julian Koster and Scott Spillane doing a stripped-down, unpracticed version of The Fool, "dedicated to a friend", which Julian said they hadn't practiced in years. I'm sure you'll get more emails about it -- it was incredible.We'll have more pictures from the whole show later. In the meantime, here's a video...
by Andrew Frisicano
Julian Koster (NMH), William Cullen Hart (Olivia Tremor Control), Scott Spillane (NMH), Laura Carter (Elf Power), Eric Harris (Elf Power), Nesey Gallons and many more [along with The Singing Saw, the 7 Foot Tall Metronome, Static the Television and many others] will join together as a traveling variety show this October. Julian describes the evenings as "a big orchestra, variety show, silly happy thing." The large gathering of Elephant 6 members will be playing the music of The Music Tapes, Circulatory System, Scott Spillane, Gerbils, Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control, Nana Grizol, Nesey Gallons and more...The 13-date "holiday surprise tour" will swing by the Knitting Factory in Manhattan (before it moves to Brooklyn in January) on October 11th. Tickets are on sale.
The tour also marks the debut of the "Major Organ and the Adding Machine" short film, directed by Joey Foreman and Eric Harris. The film will screen at the beginning of each show on the Holiday tour.
The film is currently being submitted to film festivals and will be coming out as a CD/DVD set in the Fall of 2009. Accompanying the Orange Twin DVD Edition will be the expanded version of the film's soundtrack, originally released in early 2000, that includes several unreleased bonus tracks and illuminating new liner notes by co-director Harris. The film and album stand as the consummate collaboration of the Elephant 6 collective, and feature musical and theatrical contributions from Jeff Mangum, Kevin Barnes, William Cullen Hart, Julian Koster, Andrew Reiger, Dixie Blood Moustache and all and sundry who participated in the hypercreative halcyon days of late-90's Athens, GeorgiaMangum-spotters can take note that past sightings have occured at various Elephant 6 NYC shows: Mangum sang briefly withOlivia Tremor Control at the Bowery in August 2005, with Elf Power in November of the same year at the Knitting Factory, and then with the Instruments at the Cake Shop in 2006.
Also, generally mysterious leader of Neutral Milk Hotel Jeff Mangum is said to be in the movie as well; although he is dressed in a lobster suit so it could possibly be anybody. [Wikipedia]Post-tour, Julian Koster (of NMH, Major Organ, Oliva Tremor Control) and others is scheduled to return to NYC with The Music Tapes on October 25th to play the Merge CMJ Showcase at Mercury Lounge (the rest of that lineup TBA). The band just released Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, and Koster is set to release The Singing Saw at Christmastime (currently streaming at Merge) on October 6th.
Elephant 6-ers Of Montreal will also visit NYC at the Roseland Ballroom October 10th as part of their tour supporting the forthcoming LP, Skeletal Lamping. (There's a listening party tonight - Sept 8 for the album in Portland, OR). Kevin Barnes also appears in the movie.
All tour dates and the "Major Organ" trailer (and cast listing), below....
one of seventime's records
This week marks the tenth anniversary of one of the landmark records of indie rock, even to those who'd deny that there was such a thing as indie rock - Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Deaf Indie Elephants has compiled a list of ten ways to celebrate the event and Pitchfork has rounded up two period interviews with Jeff Mangum for your reading pleasure. [Chromewaves]