Thursday, March 03, 2011

sorry, nothing to do with anything else, i just have to get this off my chest...

neutral milk hotel are fucking horrible, aren't they? That fey, quirky, outsider-polymath, geeky-oblique yet somehow deep, mildly experimental leftfield wide-eyed innocent-abroad grassroots smug collegiate whimsy of which NMH are pretty solid representatives has been one of the worst genre strands of the past ten years. I blame Pavement and the Flaming Lips. Sufjan Stevens! Gag!

This indy strand in film and literature needs to be stamped out. Dave Eggers and all that gee-whizz liberal-humanist false modesty and off the cuff pop cultural smartarsery.

yeah.

cheers for that.

20 comments:

W. Kasper said...

In all that mumblecore, twee indie, hipster lit, and other lib-humo backslapping - where's the VIOLENCE? I don't just mean guns'n'knives - but emotional, economic, etc. From where I'm looking, the country's at each other's throats - and these sweet young things are selling us an imaginary land, where lovely graphic design and emotional intelligence transcends all conflict. They have GW Bush for 8 years, and respond with...?

Whenever I see a beautifully packaged Mcsweeny's in the shop, I'm tempted to wipe a bogey on it.

agata pyzik said...

hey sorry, excuse me, actually: whats the point of having a go at some indie band, that recorded one or two albums over 10 years ago, that only has become "successfull" at the point of its reissue in 2005, when the band havent existed for years, at the height of this nu-indie-schmindie Pitchfork-fuelled revival? only because it happens to be cheered by some indie wankers? NMH is not responsible for that. the guy, ie Jeff Mangum, never did cash-in reformation, gigs or whatever, he pretty much stays away from all that, only this year he's doing this ATP curating, so you decided to all of a sudden to have a go at him. but its like saying "kill the fluffy bunnies", to quote a classic (maybe a wrong one in this context).

but whats actually the point? you criticize it for being quirky, outsider, collegiate, but sorry, can it be reversed and interpreted that you're actually afraid of quirkiness, or queernes even? so what, postrock, post-hardcore or emo-core is good, because those guys sing about their hurt male egos or screwed-upness in an "adult", serious way & Mangum is bad cos he;s quirky and fantacizes about Anne Frank? bollocks to that, the only good thing about this all indie and emo catastrophe of the recent years is precisely about men no longer having have to 'perform' or pretend maleness, even a hurt one.

you seem to hate Mangum because of his following, for which he's not responsible, so why not to have a go at the real major "the new softness" cunts, like Chris Martin, fucking Sufjan Stevens (totally agreed) or even, although I used to like him, Malkmus? if there's anyone to be blamed for the spread of Ivy league-cum-Im so fragile smugness, they are probably hundred times much more to be blamed. and ok, Aeroplane Over the Sea may occur as fake to many, I still rate it, for its unobviousness, for really painful lyrics, for the voice of teh guy, whos really taking all thsi shit from within him. you just don't see a point of singing about sleeping with Anne Frank's dead body, for sure, but isnt something profoundly embarrassing in listening to the "Jesus Christ I love you" lyrics? it definitely is, and in an interesting way, that makes you think whats going on there. you can't take it, cos it does not compute with yr in general "serious", "male" ("this needs to be stamped out") approach to things, buit I wouldnt exclude this way of expression as the new smug.there's been outsider art, always, and he's probably part of it, and he was probably too obscure to really inspire the whole wave of this terrible singer-songwriter 00s revival, which fatally marks the era we live in. so yeah, agreed to this whole fake-softness criticism, but not to blaming Henry Darger for the generations of art brut impostors.

carl said...

So.....i'm guessing you like that record then


yes i did just spot that he was curating ATP and it brought back how much i disliked hearing "In an Aeroplane..." after it had been pressed on me as an amazing record a few years ago, so i had a mini vent...

i do wonder why its SO interesting though that record... there is a part of me that thinks theres a kind of desperation to find overlooked, marginal characters and then build up cults around them...then again i'm a long time Daniel Johnson fan...i mean why is it such a cut above stuff like Sufjan Stevens or later Pavement..(i rather like those early pavement singles though)

re quirkiness, well..i'm against it when it's strained, overplayed, artless yeah...It bugs me when it has that histrionic, attention seeking edge..when it feels forced and contrived, it's charmless...





quirky, zany, wacky, loopy, nutzoid, crazee, nah, don't like it...perhaps it challenges my gym bound alpha male hetronormativity and therefore my not liking this album and your liking it is an exampe of my reactionary tendencies and your progressive ones...so be it!

so you think it's unfair to lump NMH in with, i dunno.. Cloud Cult or whatever zillion other "outsider" american indy types...but generally agree that the stuff they are unfairly lumped in with is bad...?

you might be right...although actually you know what i think at some point someone should call time on the WHOLE hypnagogic, animal collective, ariel pink, chillwave slew of stuff..

anyway judging by the speed and intensity of this response you quite like a bit of VIOLENCE yourself..


actually how would you define quirky anyway....

carl said...

Ha...iwas just in the middle of watching Labyrinth of darkness by Jiri Barta (who I'm sure you know)when i stopped to reply there.. certainly Barta's work could be described as quirky couldn't it...quirky is a kind of muted surrealism, innit...a domesticated surrealism, this is (Barta)quirkiness with charm for me...

now..I'm also wondering if this quirk-tolerance isnt relativley higher in certain countries ie i don't think it sits that well with the british temperament (though obv NMH are popular here)..

even though we reputedly have the famous "british eccentric" we do also have a quote from John Peel that says "anyone who tells you there an eccentric, isnt" and i think we're very wary of being told it..

I also think that the notion of what an "artist" is or does is rather different across cultures..

carl said...

scuse my usual there/they're confusion

W. Kasper said...

Actually, change 'violence' to 'sex and death'. If yr art contains no trace of either, what's the point? It's why one Gravediggaz album beats the Beastie Boys' entire career hands down. Seperates men from boys, women from girls, art from advert.

dkk said...

"Actually, change 'violence' to 'sex and death'. If yr art contains no trace of either, what's the point? It's why one Gravediggaz album beats the Beastie Boys' entire career hands down. Seperates men from boys, women from girls, art from advert."

bullshit!

chimp said...

fuck yeah! that shit gets my goat . sufjan stevens aka sloppy haddock across the chops in a vaguely yet elusive quirky cool styley but wait a minute this guy has nothing to do with my life like yeah lets name every album after a state FUCK YOU and the whimsical yet knowing nag you rode in on.

Frederik Bové said...

I think you are completely misreading In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. That one is not 'fey' or 'quirky'. It is ugly and disturbing. I remember Nick Southall of Imperfect Sound Forever-fame hating on it also, as it is way to noisy and compressed to be a personal indie-document, but THAT IS THE POINT!!! It is an album about a man who is so out of touch with his sorroundings and personal world, that he can only commute his feelings through old diaries. When he yells 'I Love You Jesus Christ!' it is not quirky, it is deeply disturbing. And for sex and violence: In the first song the narrator loses his virginity and his father-in-law tries, but fails, to comit suicide. I think the album is disturbing, but I do agree people has a tendency to gloss over the uncomfortable parts of it, and without those, then I can see why it seems irritating. Kind of looking at Hissing Fauna without grappling with the sadomasochistic and misogynistic elements.

W. Kasper said...

Is 'dkk' a Beasties fan?

sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Matt said...

Hi Carl,
Really enjoy your blog, smarts a bit to see 'In the Aeroplane' get a steamy crap on it and lumped in with Dave Eggers - ah well! I played it again after reading your post and was relieved to still not see/hear through it.

That idea of quirkiness as 'muted surrealism' gets at what appeals (for me at least) about the album. Not necessarily thinking too much about the lyrics, it's sort of carnivalesque, grotesque, a little bit wild and unhinged. Has something to do with Mangum often singing beyond his ability, like he's got something terribly important he can only howl about, and the way this gels with the headlong surges of rhythm.

Maybe it means a lot to '90s indie fans because of its presented seriousness. And the way this seriousness (for fans, at least) makes the 'muted surrealism' of that imaginary place Mangum draws up seem engulfing.

Down with Stevens. Down with the Lips!

Have a good trip.

carl said...

Cheers....who knows, I will probably have changed my mind and be singing its praises in 6 months...it has certainly happened before...

carl said...

y know what....i`d love to hear a separation out of my possibly rather ovedetermining 70s/80s ear on what the significant differences were for younger Ninities listeners...ie several people think NMH are a different proposition to my take on them as JUST ANOTHER NAUGHTIES INDIE BAND... and for, even in the compressed critical space that is a a comments box、 fairly compelling reasons...

i`d love you to enlarge on it、Matt,

Agata and (if i may call you fred) fred....

if you have your own blogs post it and i wil link you.. if not send me something and i will stick up your riposte on the impostume...

Frederik Bové said...

Ok. I've been wanting to write down my thoughts about this album for a long time. And I've been wanting to create a blog in the English language as well. Seems like the right time.

http://centrifugue.blogspot.com/2011/03/neutral-milk-hotel-in-aeroplane-over.html

Yeah, the writing is bad. As was my first reply. I'm still struggling with internet-writing in English. Can only get better.

Matt said...

Thanks for the encouraging offer Carl. I'll have a think on it and write something. Gotta admit, it's seriously daunting throwing any ideas out in this rarefied critics zone. All the more reason to have a crack, I guess...

dkk said...

kasper:

sorry for the delay I forgot where i posted this comment. my cry of bullshit was referring to the sex and death thing (though I do confess to enjoying the beasties). Don't get me wrong, I love sex death violence in art, but there are plenty of other great things to tackle too! friendship, bliss, etc. a rather poor view of adulthood if you think it's all sex and death, right? and, also, when you think about it, a rather poor view of childhood that doesn't include violence/fear.

though i actually agree with you on the nmh/whimsy thing. give eggers himself a pass though.

W. Kasper said...

dkk -

Probably a bit caffeined up when I posted that. Didn't mean I want stories of fucking and violence in every track (or everyday life). I'm just wary of most artists who spend their entire careers skirting around both matters in the interests of being wacky, ironic and 'cute' (like the Beasties!)

As for childhood - maybe it was absolute boredom with the genteel, nothing-happens world of Mickey Mouse vs. Wil. E Coyote having the shit kicked out of him.

W. Kasper said...

And the preponderance of this stuff during the Bush II era got vaguely nauseating over time - as much as the supremacy of Richard Curtis was under Blair.

Dackmont said...

@ W. Kasper: you ask where's the violence, aka sex and death, in Neutral Milk Hotel's "Aeroplane"? seriously? cf. Frederik's comment above, plus:

Anne Frank?

"our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea"?

the decapitated head of a twinned boy in a jar?

funereal-circus instrumentals?

"she moves herself about her fist"?

"semen stains the mountain tops"?

"I will be with you when you lose your breath"?

"your father made fetuses with flesh-licking ladies"?

Siamese twins freezing to death in the woods, looking forward to being together again in the belly of an animal?

the entire song "Ghost"? and the one after that?

a sustained meditation on finding hope and beauty in catastrophic, violent loss?

Dude. It's an album. Meant to be "listened to".