I found out yesterday that my unhappy hard drive, which was being tinkered with by the second set of professionals, is not recoverable after all, and I’ve lost about a year’s worth of data. Fun!
It’s fine really—when I finally accessed what I actually lost, there’s little that cannot be replaced or forgotten about. I now have my computer back with a new hard drive, and one of the first things did was go back through my old CDs so that I could have something to listen to after three music-less weeks.
Going through my college-era albums, I realized that I hadn’t had Neutral Milk Hotel on my computer in a long time. Remember them? If you kind of do, it’s a good time for a re-listen. And if you don’t remember them, you should get the CD (or download from iTunes and back it up for goodness’ sake). In The Aeroplane Over the Sea is a beautiful listen, with trumpets, lo-fi noise, and references to The Diary of Anne Frank. Hearing it now makes me think of it as a precursor to some of The Decemberists’ better songs—it’s thoroughly situated in the late 1990s (Neutral Milk Hotel was part of the Elephant Six collective), but the sad and touching images it evokes are from an earlier era.
I’m not the first person to revisit In the Aeroplane Over the Sea this year—Taylor Clark wrote about Jeff Magnum in a Slate article on the 10th anniversary of the album back in February. Clark wrote about how Magnum bowed out of the music scene after releasing Aeroplane, with no signs of returning. All the more reason to appreciate this album.