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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Top 5 Tips for getting your music discovered online

A musician’s guide to SEO
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  1. Pick a unique band name

Usually, I’d say the name of a band doesn’t matter; but, in the cyber world, this can make all the difference. Picking a name that is easy to rank for on Google is essential for new fans to be able to find you! Ranking for keyword searches on google is very easy when the keyword or long tail keyword (combination of words) isn’t something many people search for. Let’s take the band “Real Estate” for example. This band has over 1 million monthly listeners, and over 40 thousand Instagram followers. With a quick google search of their name they rank…nowhere on the first 5 pages. Now let’s look at my high school band “Olympic Formal” (this isn’t me trying to plug my music I swear). With just over 50 followers on SoundCloud, and less than 700 followers on Instagram, all our sites pop up at the top of the first page. You think anyone is searching for “Olympic Formal” and not looking for us? PICK A GOOD BAND NAME! 

2. Stop using hashtag music 

When people are searching for new music, a lot of times it happens on Instagram or twitter, but #music has over 180 million posts. You are not going to rank for that hashtag. I promise. Instagram’s new algorithm discourages people from using a ton of hashtags, and doing so can lead to you even being “shadow banded”. So pick 5 or 6 relevant hashtags that are more niche than the umbrella terms people usually use. It’s a lot easier to rank for something like #bostonhiphop than #hiphop. 

3. Make a WordPress

Many people think Blogs are a thing of the past…and they’re kind of right. The likelihood of getting people to engage with a website that’s not a major social media platform isn’t nearly as high as it was in the early 2000’s. However, using a site like WordPress allows you to repost all your pictures and videos from Instagram and Facebook and add “alt text”. Alt Text is the description that is behind the photo that no one sees. Having the name of your band or other keywords in the alt text of your WordPress allows you to show up for searches on google images. 

4. Links are key

Google uses things called “Spiders” to search every page on anything that is relevant to your search. One of the things that these siders look for is internal links to relevant content. So if you want your Bandcamp page at the top of a Google search, be sure to post links to all your social media pages and websites, as well as have other sites (personal accounts/blogs and professional blogs) link your sites within their posts.

5. Content is king

The days of just putting out music are over! Musicians have to realize they are not in the music business, but also the entertainment business! The single best way to get your music discovered is by having something that lots of people engage with. It’s a hell of a lot easier to have 1000 people watch 1 minute Instagram video of a jam session than it is to get 1000 Spotify streams. It’s all about that content baby!

  

1. Pick a unique band name

Usually, I’d say the name of a band doesn’t matter; but, in the cyber world, this can make all the difference. Picking a name that is easy to rank for on Google is essential for new fans to be able to find you! Ranking for keyword searches on google is very easy when the keyword or long tail keyword (combination of words) isn’t something many people search for. Let’s take the band “Real Estate” for example. This band has over 1 million monthly listeners, and over 40 thousand Instagram followers. With a quick google search of their name they rank…nowhere on the first 5 pages. Now let’s look at my high school band “Olympic Formal” (this isn’t me trying to plug my music I swear). With just over 50 followers on SoundCloud, and less than 700 followers on Instagram, all our sites pop up at the top of the first page. You think anyone is searching for “Olympic Formal” and not looking for us? PICK A GOOD BAND NAME! 

2. Stop using hashtag music 

When people are searching for new music, a lot of times it happens on Instagram or twitter, but #music has over 180 million posts. You are not going to rank for that hashtag. I promise. Instagram’s new algorithm discourages people from using a ton of hashtags, and doing so can lead to you even being “shadow banded”. So pick 5 or 6 relevant hashtags that are more niche than the umbrella terms people usually use. It’s a lot easier to rank for something like #bostonhiphop than #hiphop. 

3. Make a WordPress

Many people think Blogs are a thing of the past…and they’re kind of right. The likelihood of getting people to engage with a website that’s not a major social media platform isn’t nearly as high as it was in the early 2000’s. However, using a site like WordPress allows you to repost all your pictures and videos from Instagram and Facebook and add “alt text”. Alt Text is the description that is behind the photo that no one sees. Having the name of your band or other keywords in the alt text of your WordPress allows you to show up for searches on google images. 

4. Links are key

Google uses things called “Spiders” to search every page on anything that is relevant to your search. One of the things that these siders look for is internal links to relevant content. So if you want your Bandcamp page at the top of a Google search, be sure to post links to all your social media pages and websites, as well as have other sites (personal accounts/blogs and professional blogs) link your sites within their posts.

5. Content is king

The days of just putting out music are over! Musicians have to realize they are not in the music business, but also the entertainment business! The single best way to get your music discovered is by having something that lots of people engage with. It’s a hell of a lot easier to have 1000 people watch 1 minute Instagram video of a jam session than it is to get 1000 Spotify streams. It’s all about that content baby!

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5 Surprising Reasons to Take Up Ice Fishing This Season

Why Ice Fishing is the Best Fishing
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Winter has arrived and since we live in the real world and not in Game of Thrones universe, it won't last for years. That's why instead of being cooped up in your own house, you should make the best of this season. And how can you do it?? Of course, by ice fishing. 

Yes, I am perfectly aware that, when we hear the word 'Winter', fishing is not the first thing that comes to our mind; but it should. 

Ok, I admit that winter is cold, bleak and sometimes boring. However, ice fishing is the best way to spice up our winter. There is no activity that would cheer you up in this gloomy weather more than fishing through the ice. Yet, if you are still skeptical about ice fishing, then below I have given 5 reasons that would certainly convince you to take up ice fishing this winter. 

1. Saves Money

Money matters to everyone, unless you are Bill Gates or his lucky lad. And, you can save a lot of money by fishing in winter rather than in summer. For, during the summer, in order to catch fish, you must own or rent a boat, and a boat requires maintenance, and all of this will cost you a huge sum of money. 

On the other hand, in winter you won't need a boat, and without a boat, there would be no maintenance. This would certainly save you an ample amount of money. Besides, instruments of ice fishing aren't expensive and you can purchase them for less than $100. However, you must make sure that your equipment such as rods, auger, and fishing reels are top notch to ensure that you are fully prepared for any kind of fish. 

2. Perfect for family outing

One thing that I particularly love about ice fishing is that we can do it with our family, unlike fishing in summer, as it is quite difficult to go fishing with 5 or 6 people in the boat. It is also worthy of note that ice angling is extremely popular among kids as a winter activity as they love playing in the snow, and their happy faces will certainly brighten up your mood. Thus, it won't be an exaggeration to say that an exhilarating fishing adventure is the best outdoor activity for family outings in this freezing weather. 

3. No sunburn

Sunburn is a cause of concern for most of the anglers, and rightly so. Because overexposure to the sun can cause us severe skin damage. However, ice anglers don't have to worry about sunburn unless you are one of those who prefer to fish in a state of undress. 

Nonetheless, it would be wise for you to put on some warm and comfortable clothes of high-quality as it would protect you from hypothermia. And, if you are you terrified of cold weather, don't worry, for, with a new technology called ThermoLogic line by NTA Enterprise, you can control the temperature of your own fishing apparel. Therefore, put all your worries into the closet and remember, before embarking on the ice, you must bundle up. 

4. You Don't get bored

It could be quite frustrating when the fish is not biting. But you shouldn’t trouble yourself, as you can try a lot of other activities instead of waiting for the fish to get hooked. For example, you can play cards, hockey (my favorite) or enjoy a hot tub out in the open. Besides, you will have all your fishing buddies alongside you. But if you are one of those who like to fish alone, then divulge in skating or you can try your cooking skills while keeping an eye on the hole for fish. Hence, rest assured, boredom is something that you won't suffer from while ice fishing. 

5. Great for health

I am sure, you have heard this phrase 'health is wealth', but did you know that you can preserve your 'wealth' by ice fishing? Yes, you can. But how??? Well, It has been scientifically proven that being near to water is greatly beneficial for our health, even when the water is frozen. 

An Australian study has revealed that water can have a great effect on our overall fitness. For, it reduces stress (which is vital for our heart), helps breast cancer patient's recovery,and aids to tackle chronic illness or mental problems. Therefore, by taking up ice fishing in this winter you can get both pleasure and health benefits.

So Do You Feel The Itch?

By now, you should feel the bubbles in your stomach for ice fishing. It has fun, adventure and what not! Let me know your thought on taking up ice fishing this season in the comment section below.

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