My goal is to raise a sufficient sum of money to fund the recording, releasing, promotion and distribution of a Neutral Milk Hotel tribute album. The design is an LP + CD combo one, with an introduction, other liner notes, and a tracklisting with the participating artists and their corresponding covers.
This Neutral Milk Hotel compilation—a quality one is long overdue, let me tell you—will feature the veritable who’s who of today’s fringe music scene, each playing a cover of a Neutral Milk Hotel song.
I have already done a good deal of work on this, recruiting the bands and singer-songwriters I felt could do Neutral Milk Hotel songs justice. They are also artists who are Neutral Milk Hotel fans and have been influenced or inspired to some degree by their music. The follow artists are participating so far:
Off With Their Heads
Possessed by Paul James
The Slow Poisoner
The Impossible No Goods
(I will update this list as it gets longer)
Only a small handful have already submitted their song choices, but so far it seems like Mischief Brew will be doing "The Fool," Emma Hill will be doing "Oh Comely," The Taxpayers will be doing "King of Carrot Flowers Pt 1" and The Slow Poisoner will be doing "Gardenhead." It's a work in progress and is still in the early development stage. Obviously.
Each cover song—there will be at least twelve renditions by twelve different artists…unless of course this endeavor receives more financial support than originally hoped for—will not be a carbon copy of a Neutral Milk Hotel song but the artist’s own version…or rather, a fair and respectful approximation or an interesting reworking of a Neutral Milk Hotel song. I mean, if the cover were exactly the same as the song upon which it is based, the consumer might as well go out and purchase the actual Neutral Milk Hotel album and ignore the compilation. Therefore, each band or singer/songwriter will put their own mark on the song and cover it with the sound and technique that will make it equally unique and worthwhile. In the end, of course, the songs will be Neutral Milk Hotel songs. A worthy tribute for a worthy band.
If you aren’t familiar with the band Neutral Milk Hotel, it was the very unique musical project of one Jeff Mangum; a remarkably talented and highly creative songsmith. An independent band formed in the American south in the late ‘80s, Jeff Mangum and company managed to create an utterly brilliant and idiosyncratic sound comprised of indie rock, antifolk, experimental post-garage punk, lo-fi noise pop, and a few unnamable elements belonging strictly to them. This sound first caught the attention of a handful of obscure music enthusiasts and music critics, and then somehow swept across the fringes to be appreciated and enjoyed by countless music listeners the world over. In 1996, Neutral Milk Hotel released their landmark debut “On Avery Island.” It was a well-received effort, to be sure, but not nearly as well received as the band’s next release in 1998, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” Mangum and his bandmates toured extensively in support of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” and Neutral Milk Hotel’s popularity in the music underground became more and more considerable. In 1999, however, fed up with touring and stressed about certain pieces of press, Jeff split up Neutral Milk Hotel and sort of just disappeared from the scene altogether. In a way, Jeff Mangum is to modern music what J.D. Salinger is to classic literature: one day he was climbing toward the pinnacle of musical success; the next, he was working his way down without having reached the summit, making it to the nearest road and vanishing from the music world entirely. And although a great deal of rumors popped-up here and there across the web, they were usually found to be just that—rumors—and consequently untrue. Still, in 2010 Mangum returned briefly to perform at a few shows. In 2011, the January edition of Q Magazine listed Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” among the top 250 albums of the past 25 years. Again in 2011, Mangum performed at a number of events. In 2013, Neutral Milk Hotel announced a reunion tour and a vinyl-only box set release. So…what better way to mark the band’s return to the fringe music scene than by putting together a tribute featuring some of today’s best underground bands and singer/songwriters…many of whom credit Neutral Milk Hotel as an influence.
And if you have never listened to Neutral Milk Hotel's music before, the following video is of their multi-part masterpiece King of Carrot Flowers.
As a music enthusiast and longtime freelance music journalist I have written about and interviewed a rather sizable portion of today’s fringe artists from all over the world. Some are independent, some are underground, some are on small record labels, and some straddle the fence between obscurity and recognition, but all of them have proven themselves highly original and remarkably talented bands and singer/songwriters. So it wasn’t all that difficult to come up with the above list of artists to participate in the Neutral Milk Hotel comp.
If ever a contemporary outsider band deserved a tribute album, it is decidedly Neutral Milk Hotel. This endeavor is something that I am very excited and passionate about. It is something I have wanted to do for quite some time, yet couldn’t due to the obvious financial issues. It is my hope that Kickstarter will make it possible. There are three tiers for those who donate to “The Songs of Neutral Milk Hotel: A Tribute.” Those who provide a hundred dollars and under will receive a digital download of the album, along with cover art and liner note attachments. Those whose contributions exceed a hundred dollars, up to nine-hundred and ninety-nine dollars, will get a CD of the tribute. And those who pledge a thousand dollars and over will get the LP + CD combo package. And all donating parties, since this project wouldn’t possible without their help, will be included in the release’s acknowledgments…except for those who would rather not be, if any.
As far as the financial goal of this endeavor, I can break it down this simply:
Twelve artists, each afforded three hours recording time at the studio. Three hours in the studio is $600.00. And $600.00 x 12 = $7,200.00.
After the studio time, the LP and CD combo package will have to be made. Getting the LPs pressed—if I were to order 2,000 of them—will cost an additional $10,600.
Thus, the total for the Neutral Milk Hotel tribute: $17, 800.
And my deadline for the completion of this endeavor, being that there are at least twelve different artists that have to work out and record a song, and then the manufacturing of the LPs and CDs, etc will take time, is summer of 2014…if I receive funding, that is. The release may come out sooner; I just want to be realistic and give it the time it deserves. And, of course, I will keep everyone posted on its progress.
Thank you all for your kindness and support!