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Throwback Thursday, II

January 28, 2010

While researching this book, I pore over as many relevant articles as I can.
Every Thursday, I’ll highlight one of the good ones.

This week’s throwback comes all the way from last year, January of 2009. So it’s not an especially huge throwback.

But it is relevant insofar as it highlights one of the most salient points I want to make about the Elephant 6 Recording Company: its influence.

The piece focuses on Neutral Milk Hotel, the E6’s flagship band to be sure, but to some extent it applies to the entire collective. What it suggests is that, even though none of the bands ever really had much mainstream success, they left a profound legacy that lives on in the bands they influenced.

It offers a comprehensive list of bands who draw from different Neutral Milk Hotel’s sound: conceptual album format, invigorating live performances, unconventional instrumentation, punk-tinged folk, and unapologetically personal lyrics. Of course, the band didn’t invent any of this, but, Williams argues, it was “the point from which all matter (or for that matter, all THAT mattered) collapsed into itself into one super dense, super brilliant point and then, exploded out in all directions, forming all that exists in our universe today. Neutral Milk Hotel, more than any other band, has been the defining influence on the past decade of music.” Williams counts indie superstars like the Decemberists, Arcade Fire, Animal Collective and Sufjan Stevens as well as pseudo-hip-hop icons Danger Mouse and Girl Talk among the NMH disciples.

The piece isn’t supported especially well and it reads a bit like a high school essay, but Williams’s point is still a good one. At the very least, it’s a handy reference for bands I’d like to interview for the “lasting influence” portion of my book.

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