Neutral Milk Hotel's: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Album Review

Neutral Milk Hotel's: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Album Review

My thoughts on what might be one of the greatest albums of all time.
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This album is without a doubt one of the most beautiful, haunting, interesting pieces of music I have ever listened to. Released on February 10th, 1998, by the band Neutral Milk Hotel, this album has existed for nearly two decades, yet its influence is still present and its raw power and beauty never seems to fade. From the opening guitar chords of King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1 to the final soft, gentle hums of Two Headed Boy Pt. 2, this album is something like a story. A non-linear story about Anne Frank, WWII, mortality, and sexuality. And it is an intense journey to go on.

Anne Frank was a huge influence on the creation of this album. Neutral Milk Hotel's lead singer, Jeff Mangum, was known for being almost obsessed with Anne Frank's story, and this is made quite apparent throughout the album. On the song “Holland, 1945” Mangum sings “The only girl I've ever loved / Was born with roses in her eyes / But then they buried her alive / One evening, 1945.” He goes on to sing about how she was buried with her sisters at her side and how her father had survived and found her diary after the war. He also alludes to the idea that Anne was reincarnated as “...a little boy in Spain / playing pianos filled with flames” which could be a metaphor for the way her story has lived on beyond her life, with her diary being the piano and the story of the pain she felt during WWII and then her eventually death being the flames.

He mentions Anne again in the song “Oh Comely” which is a slow, acoustic song with a lot of vivid sexual imagery. “And pluck all your silly string, bend all your notes for me / Soft silly music is meaningful, magical / The movements were beautiful, all in your ovaries.” And lines like this are all over this song, describing the beauty and the crudeness of sexuality. And again he references Anne Frank, further showing his admiration and the role she plays in the album. “And I know they buried her body with others / Her sister and mother and five-hundred families / And will she remember me fifty years later? / I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine.” It kills him that he can't help her and that she didn't get to live her whole life out, exploring all the facets of life that we all get to experience, should we be lucky enough to live that long.

The three best parts of this album, in my opinion, come in three different songs; “In the Aeroplane Over The Sea,” “Two Headed Boy Pt. 1,” and “Two Headed Boy Pt. 2.” The chord progression in “Aeroplane” is mesmerizing, as is the singing saw that wobbles throughout the track, materializing the imagery presented in the lines “Anna's ghost all around / Hear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me / Soft and sweet / How the notes all bend and reach above the trees.” The lyrics are incredible and poignant throughout this entire track, my personal favorites being “What a beautiful face / I have found in this place / That is circling all 'round the sun” and “Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all.” It's difficult to put into words the kind of emotions you feel when Mangum sings these lyrics with such carefreeness that the possibly scary ideas he contemplates in this song sound almost magical and comforting. When he says “And one day we will die / And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea” you're unafraid. You can embrace the thought that one day you will be gone and the memories you leave behind will be but ashes in the sea.

“Two Headed Boy Pt.1” and “Pt. 2” continue this beautiful imagery and lyricism. Pt. 1 describes a boy trapped inside of a jar who is in love with Anne Frank, trying to build her a radio “just for two” so he can convey his love to her through music. The Two Headed Boy says “And in the dark we will take off our clothes / And they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine” at first sounding like they are going to get intimate with each other, until it is interrupted by something foul, possibly referring to the Nazi's finding Anne and taking her away. Pt. 2 describes the Two Headed Boy again, this time having to let go of Anne because he knows he cannot escape his jar and must let her move on with her life. Mangum sings “And when we break we'll wait for a miracle / God is a place where some holy spectacle lies / When we break we'll wait for a miracle / God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life.” This line gives two possible meanings, one being that death is desirable and that when one of them dies the other will wait for them and eventually reunited. The other possible meaning, of course, is that God doesn't exist and waiting for the rest of your life means to waste your time on earth hoping that something better will come in the afterlife.

There are too many fantastic moments on this album to mention all in one paper, and I urge you to check the album out yourself because my abysmal descriptions don't do it justice. The only way you can truly feel the emotion in these songs is to listen to them yourself. I promise you won't regret.

Cover Image Credit: www.skotcher.com

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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