Tuesday, July 7, 2009

all i could want is silver & spinning out from your arms.

The second of this week's (or last week's, I guess) quintet of recommended albums is

Neutral Milk Hotel's On Avery Island.

yeah, that's right. Not In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I love that one, too, but everyone recommends that, and I'm still Building An Audience on this blog, and honestly, over the past few years I have listened to On Avery Island way more. So I am here to disagree with virtually every Music Critic Ever (because I'm not one, right?) and tell you that this is Tuesday, and today's Recommendation is On Avery Island, and you only get one recommendation a day from me if that, so forget about everything else and just hear me out for the next 300-500 words.

What's the difference? I think most people dismiss On Avery Island as early sketches for In the Aeroplane over the Sea. On Avery Island, was that their early stuff? Why are they against sex and who the hell is Pree? What's the difference? it just starts with a different pronoun, right?

Oh, you are so fucking wrong. I wish I could contemptuously end the blog post right here, but now I have to explain myself.

Plus, in case you're counting, I think I'm now 2 for 2 for dropping F bombs in these recommendations this week, which means this blog is so never getting on my department's blog roll.

Oh well.

Anyway. On Avery Island is strange and wonderful and refreshing and nearly forgotten. It incorporates found sound and ephemera in a way that In the Aeroplane simply doesn't. Where In the Aeroplane Over the Sea has at least developed a secondary hegemonic narrative in the endless dissections thereof, On Avery Island has stayed mysterious, and I'm going to keep it that way. On Avery Island is elliptical and vague and not tied to linear interpretations.

For those of us who came to On Avery island late, it's impossible to understand On Avery Island without the overshadowing behemoth that is In the Aeroplane over the Sea (and, ya know, just typing that out every time is kind of precious & infuriating, and I love that album). On Avery Island is visceral and reactionary and angry, a collage of sounds and voices and moods that range from elegaic to frustrated to despairing to vulnerable. Sounds twist and are distorted in unexpected ways; voices of the everyday mingle with the sounds and voices of musicians and thus become the sounds and voices of musicians. It's a very populist album.

But On Avery Island is neither mere chaos nor mere aural self-indulgence. It is not mere trial runs for melodies and lyrics that would be reused later with In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. It stands on its own as its own ideas. It is its own masterwork that has been overshadowed by the more accessible and more talked-about In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Therefore, I Recommend On Avery Island to you.


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