The Essential Guide To: The Elephant 6 Collective
Back before Myspace, bands would record whole albums onto a Tascam 4 âtrack tape recorder; yeah thatâs right kids, tapes! If you wanted to check out a new band, you literally had to mail order a tape, and then fast forward through the shit. Nowadays, of course you can tell a band is shit from their Myspace profile picture and from how long it takes to load their page. Anyhoot, the Elephant 6 Recording Company was a group of guys who began recording lo-fi tapes in their bed... (continued)
Back before Myspace, bands would record whole albums onto a Tascam 4 âtrack tape recorder; yeah thatâs right kids, tapes! If you wanted to check out a new band, you literally had to mail order a tape, and then fast forward through the shit. Nowadays, of course you can tell a band is shit from their Myspace profile picture and from how long it takes to load their page. Anyhoot, the Elephant 6 Recording Company was a group of guys who began recording lo-fi tapes in their bedrooms and trading music with their friends. This led to the formation of some of the 90âs greatest psychedelic revival/indie bands (read: independent). So here is an essential guide to the best of the E6 collective for all of you plaid wearing guys with beards, who like me were inspired to start recording their voice backwards on a tape deck to see if it sounded satanic. (It does). Neutral Milk Hotel For once Pitchfork.com gets it right. NMH led by the mysterious Jeff Mangum created a dark but beautiful album, âIn the Aeroplane over the Seaâ in 1998, which became an instant underground hit, recently re-released again with new artwork etc. This is the kind of album everyone likes, despite its creepiness and acid folk influences. From its epic âOh, Comelyâ (and 8 minute track that seems to be about hillbilly sex?) to Holland 1945- a song about Anne Frank, the band is soaked in what seems to be antique unique instruments and Victoriana. Although now defunct, NMH personal included many of the other E6 bands (Jeremy Barnes, Robert Schneider) which means their influence is widespread. The origins of Mangum are now unknown, maybe heâs in a cabin in Georgia playing the singing saw. Of Montreal On a brighter note, Kevin Barnes is wearing a neon-spandex cat, suit jumping around on stage singing about Halo and Ketamine! Of Montreal; everyoneâs favourite live band. Their shows alone are worthy of the ticket prices. They originally started out as a retro 60âs almost bubblegum pop/twee pop band, with more chord changes per song than most punk bands whole albums (see Cherry Peel- âSleeping in a Beetle Bugâ). But their latest albums seem to be a confused mess of synths, beats and glam rock. Touring with MGMT has broaden their appeal, and now even your little sister likes them. Although not an original E6 band, the bands early concept albums were released under the E6 name. Anything before âSatanic Panic in the Atticâ is very retro, anything after this is more dance-able. Check out âThe Gay Paradeâ for their magnum-opus. Also check out their amazing artwork done by brother David Barnes. Sums up the E6 philosophy nicely. Apples In Stereo Robert Schneider listened to too many Beach Boy records and decided to start a band. That band was the bubblegum saccharine pop of the Apples in Stereo ( they also did the Powerpuff girls theme song). One of the founding bands of the E6 collective they are still going strong today, their first album âFun Trick Noisemakerâ is a classic 60âs Phil Spector inspired album, their latest album âNew Magnetic Wonderâ carries on this tradition yet somehow feels out of date. The psychedelic lyrics such as âI love you Alice Dâ replaced with like âturn up your stereo-oh-ohâ. To be fair I canât fault a band that pioneered the new wave of psychedelic music, and whoâs band members have featured Bill Doss, Will Cullen Hart (both founders of the E6 collective and members of Olivia Tremor Control). Youâve also got to admire him for being one of the only men in pop music to be fat, bald, wear glasses and still get teenagers to dance for himâ¦ Other Bands I could have done a section on the Olivia Tremor Control, their influence and their concept albums on California falling into the ocean, but to be honest I donât actually like them. Too many pop songs interspersed with random noise tracks that scare me. So instead im gonna list a couple of bands that are great indie-pop and hidden gems. While im not gonna say are under rated, I am gonna say they write some catchy tunes that will stick in your head for an age. Beulah- Lo-fi up-beat pop with dark subject matter. Check out âPopular Mechanics for Loversâ for a song featured on the OC. Or their best album âWhen your Heart Strings Breakâ. All killer no filler. The Gerbils- The horn player for Neutral Milk Hotel, releases something that sounds like a chipmunk on XTC. Best songs âCrayon Boxâ and âSunshine Soulâ. Sure to relieve any comedown. The Ladybug Transistor- chamber pop Burt Bacharach style. This mini orchestra brings to mind summer picnics and strolls across sunflower fields, or if you live in a city, getting shitfaced off cider in a park near a busy road. Best songs- âPerfect for Shatteringâ, âLike a Summer Rainâ Dressy Bessy- probably the anti-thesis to Neutral Milk Hotel, yet somehow Tammy Ealoms 3 chord twee pop is perfect for killing bunnies and kittens to. Best song âif you Should Try to Kiss Herâ (featured in âBut Im a Cheerleaderâ movie) I could go on and on about the various side projects of all the E6 members (of which there are dozens of hard to find records), and before any of you start bitching I forgot about âthis band!â, the best thing to do would be go out and buy one of these albums, fall in love, and do your own research. Happy hunting!
The Elephant 6 CollectiveNeutral Milk HotelOf MontrealApples In StereoBeulahThe GerbilsThe Ladybug TransistorDressy Bessy