Jeff Mangum
Live At Aquarius Records


4.0
excellent

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
March 9th, 2010 | 35 replies | 7,593 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to that oh-so impossible feat of seeing Neutral Milk Hotel perform live once again.

5 of 6 thought this review was well written

It makes me forlorn to think about it, but it’s the truth. Jeff Mangum has moved on, but the cult-like fans certainly have not. It’s difficult to be a credible fan of indie music without having “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” grace your lucky ears at least once or twice. The cryptic labyrinth of lyrics has touched so many on a distinctly personal (almost weirdly so) level. In effect, Jeff Mangum’s underproduced music and touching lyrics should traverse rather well to the live format. Live At Aquarius Records is perhaps the perfect example of this phenomenon. Not his only live record (Live At Jittery Joe’s being the more well-known of the two), but with certain tweaks and additions Live At Aquarius Records grants Neutral Milk Hotel fans an intimate experience that isn’t without a few surprises and gifts.

Other than the lavish ITAOTS centerpiece “Oh Comely” and Holland 1945 B-side “Engine” (an absolute must-hear for any Neutral Milk Hotel fan), the remaining are either older or unreleased tracks. From the frantic ups-and-downs of “She Did A Lot of Acid” to the passionate wails on “Sailing Through,” Live At Aquarius Records is truly a Mangum-necessity to behold. His voice comes through composed and feels very immediate. The most likable trait of the album would, without a doubt, be the previously unheard tracks like the companion song to “Oh Comely,” “Oh Sister” (quickly became a personal favorite of his repertoire) or “Rubby Bulbs.” There’s certainly a charm to the live set that’s impossible to ignore through the creaks and twinges in his relatively frail voice. It would be a bit trite to get into the age-old technicality vs. emotionality debate on this record, but I can say that Live At Aquarius Records probably isn’t for the listener that gorges on perfect guitar riffs or grandiose vocals. Rather, it’s quite clear that Jeff Mangum isn’t the best singer to ever live. On the other hand, Live At Aquarius Records has become a perfect testament, in my admiring eyes, to an artists’ ability to overcome a lack of technicality through the use of personality and atmosphere. On Live At Aquarius Records, Mangum puts himself and his flaws on full display, giving the listener a resounding representation of what it would be like to hear the man up close, and all the while he seems to enjoy every chord, every second; maybe not as much as I am, though.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


NMH fans unite.

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

EVedder27
March 9th 2010



6088 Comments


It’s difficult to be a credible fan of indie music without having “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” grace your lucky ears at least once or twice.


Oh shit

SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


haha yeah that's the uber-NMH fan speaking, but you really should hear ITAOTS, it's my favorite album ever.

EVedder27
March 9th 2010



6088 Comments


downloading...

SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


that makes me happy... please don't throw it away if you dislike it at first though, I know I did.

Jethro42
March 9th 2010



12381 Comments


omg this was released before TAOTS. I need to check this out.
And Vedder, I second Sea: I'm sure you're gonna love it.
My fave on here is by far Ooohh Commmelyyy ;)
No 'Song Against Sex' ;(
Short and sweet review bro. Pos'd

SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


have you heard this version of "Engine," or "Oh Sister?" they're fantastic, Oh Sister especially... one of my Mangum favs.

NeutralThunder12
March 9th 2010



8742 Comments


uggles Eric. uggles. For some reason, I still do not care for In the Aeroplane that much, because the songs are draggy and the chord progressions are prosaic and the whole feel is just weird and fuck commas, but I actually like "King of the Carrot Flowers Part 1". Just something about how the lyrics flow brilliantly and rhyme perfectly in that track. I may be a self indulgent loving, prog obsessed freak, but no Prog band writes lyrics like Indie/Folk guys do. But they are not half the musicians.

NeutralThunder12
March 9th 2010



8742 Comments


and that was totally not needed but whatever. Short but nice review.

SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


haha thanks... and it takes a while to love that album, I think. I totally understand that off-putting feeling get from it bc I felt the same way for so long.

Jethro42
March 9th 2010



12381 Comments


^^Wut! A musician is never half of a musician.

Jethro42
March 9th 2010



12381 Comments


I you tubed those 2 songs. Great indeed. Oh Sister was kind of an extension for Oh Comely, but it didn't make it to the final cut, apparently.

SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


yeah, and to be honest Oh Comely really doesn't need another 3 minutes... probably a good thing it was cut

Jim
March 9th 2010



5110 Comments


might try and find this somewhere. i like NMH

YouAreMySilence
March 9th 2010



3727 Comments


Wait your not staff yet? Wtf?

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2010



17920 Comments


cryptic labyrinth of lyrics has ****

Killler9
March 9th 2010



147 Comments


I heard this and it was pretty lame. good review though, like always..

SeaAnemone
March 9th 2010



19913 Comments


haha it's flattering to hear that YouAre but no, I don't foresee that in the future anytime soon

cute pic chan

killer: understandable, it's not for everyone, and thanks!

Lions
March 10th 2010



1015 Comments


This sounds awesome; I didn't even know this existed. Have you heard some of the old demos? I'd recommend "Beauty". It came out in 91 and had Engine, Gardenhead (a way better version), Sailing Through, and a ton of other great songs.

SeaAnemone
March 10th 2010



19913 Comments


cool I'll have to check those out



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