Saturday, August 15, 2009

how strange it is to be anything at all...

this is a live performance by jeff mangum, the creative force behind neutral milk hotel, a critic's darling band from the early 90s. this is pretty much the familiar story of creative genius, paltry output, & early retirement. their second & last full length album, in the aeroplane over the sea, is especially good & was very influential. the various bands w/connections w/mangum are varied & many(elf power, the gerbils, olivia tremor control, the elephant six co-op, tall dwarves, apples in stereo, arcade fire, the hawk & the hacksaw et al).



gymnopedies13 said...

I lived in Athens GA at the time this band was revered as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it was interesting to observe the controversy surrounding them. Mangum apparently was rather put-off at being made out to be some sort of indie-god-savant-genius, when he was just a shy and basically normal guy who wrote some songs. This may have had something to do with him essentially rejecting the status that was foisted upon him. For my own part, I never really liked the music, which sounded cloying and immature to my ears.

bataille2 said...

i think his solo performances are fairly inept & they reveal certain weaknesses in the songs. when he has a band of competent musicians behind him, i think the music ends up working well enough.
the athens thing is pretty interesting tho. they had quite a run of bands in the 80s that ended up being pretty big(rem, b-52s). however, i don't think they were recognized AT THE TIME as being big or talented or significant(rem played pizza parlors). i think the impulse now is to jump onto anything different & proclaim it "genius" or "ground breaking." like the critic said about basquiat, "no one wants to be the one to miss another van gogh."
thanks for the comment.