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Neutral Milk Hotel

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Jeff Mangum’s project, Neutral Milk Hotel, played a pivotal role in popularizing indie rock in the middle and late 1990s. Born in Ruston, Louisiana in 1970, Mangum had an interest in music at an early age. He met Will Cullan Hart and the pair started to make music, share cassette tapes, and develop an appreciation for home recording and the sounds of 1960s production. In the late 1980s, Mangum traveled around the country and recorded a series of demo cassettes that featured a growing circle of collaborators, avant-garde sound experiments, and early songs written by Mangum. In 1993 Mangum and Hart, along with Robert Schneider and Bill Doss, cofounded the Elephant 6 Recording Company in Denver, Colorado, a collective of musicians. Subsequently, Mangum began traveling the country and recording on a four-track tape machine as Milk. Neutral Milk Hotel’s first formal seven-inch record, 1993’s Everything Is, was released on Cher Doll Records and recorded in Seattle, Washington during this period. The band’s first album, On Avery Island, was released on Merge Records in 1996 and featured members of the Elephant 6 collective supporting Mangum. The Elephant 6 group relocated to Athens, Georgia but Mangum returned to Denver to write and record his follow-up. In 1998, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was released to an initially tepid public reaction but high praise from critics. Inspired by the story of Anne Frank, the album attracted attention following the group’s year-long support tour. Mangum, exhausted by the tour, broke up the band and went on an indefinite hiatus in early 1999. He played very few live shows until a return to touring in 2010. The following year, Neutral Milk Hotel’s second EP, Ferris Wheel on Fire, was finally released, having been recorded in the 2000s.