The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features
Enjoy the best summer ever in Boston

Neutral Uke Hotel strum gaily over the sea

Flight from the hater brigade
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  April 13, 2011

 Neutral Uke Hotel
MANGUM PR “I think we came up with an idea for a project that is one of the easiest things to hate,” says Shawn Fogel (center). “I don’t want to hear the dub reggae version of Metallica.”

Shawn Fogel of Golden Bloom knows that his latest stage act is a formula for potential enormous suckitude. Take one of indie rock's sacred cows — Neutral Milk Hotel's 1999 album In the Aeroplane over the Sea — and play the whole thing, straight through, on ukuleles. Then have the audacity to call it Neutral Uke Hotel. "I think we came up with an idea for a project that is one of the easiest things to hate," chuckles Fogel from his home base of Montclair, New Jersey. "I don't want to hear the dub reggae version of Metallica."

Most of the rest of us wouldn't want to hear Metalli-jah either. Come to think of it, though, why not? Is anything really that precious? Would anyone even care if Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum hadn't tweaked out and disappeared? But people do care. Here's one comment from a Neutral Uke Hotel hater on the quintet's YouTube video for "King of Carrot Flowers": "Neutral Milk deserves so much better than this. It's going to become some dumbass hipster 'uke' movement." The comments from Brooklyn Vegan's announcement for a June 2010 show are no less ripe with New York charm: "I hate gimmicks like this. I can just see him explaining it to his grandmother at Thanksgiving."

It looks like another case of people who think they have the authority to prescribe what is cool (or not cool) defining what a lame hipster is (or isn't). What no one seems to be saying, though, is anything bad about the actual music. In a recent blog post titled "Attention Indie-Rock: No Ukes," Jim "The Dick" DeRogatis blasted Neutral Uke Hotel for being cute, kitschy, and pretentious. Finally, after a pregnant virtual pause, an unknown member of the Tiny Tim Coalition for Four-String Ass-Kickery fired back: "The ukulele is a beautiful instrument. Go fuck yourself." Take that, Jim.

In the beginning, however, there were no ukuleles. Fogel's discovery of Neutral Milk Hotel's music came in 2001 — a couple of years after the funny little band with a name right out of the NATO phonetic alphabet became everybody's pet secret. To Fogel, the discovery was less of an exclusive epiphany and more like a late-'70s kid discovering Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. What the elitist harpers seem to be missing is that indie music is about as populist as you can get. In the Aeroplane over the Sea practically laid the blueprint for the major domestic indie record as we now know it — ask Merge records, which figured out how to get from Aeroplane's cult success to Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning Suburbs.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Fitz and the Tantrums blow up the soul party, Kurt Vile | Smoke Ring For My Halo, The dark romantic transformation of Zola Jesus, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Neutral Uke Hotel, Brighton Music Hall
| More
3 Comments / Add Comment

Michael Epstein

I am hoping that when I see Mangum this Fall, he isn't asking around about who these uked troublemakers are.
Posted: April 13 2011 at 7:30 PM


Nice piece. One small note, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was recorded in 1997. NMH had disbanded prior to 1999.
Posted: April 14 2011 at 11:26 AM


Welcome to our website: to choose the goods you like.
We Offer Wholesale fashion designer Handbags, Coach ,Gucci, lv, juicy, Jimmy ,burberry ,CA ,dg ,db, ed hardy ,Fendi, miumiu,prada ,hermes,bally and etc.
All of our handbags are AAA quality, they are made of real leather, it come with Italian Design! You could find most fashionable and style handbags from here.
And we also can supply you women ugg boots, NIKE Jordan shoes, Brand apparel,sunglasses,belts,caps,watches etc.
Please fully look through our website to find your interested items
We welcome your order and we can be contacted by Email or MSN.
Feature: AAA quality, quick shipment, best service.
1) Price: each for nike shoes(Air Jordan, air max, shox ,dunk sb, nike rift,af1,nike blazer)
2) MOQ:6 piece, you can mix to order all of our products
3) Packing: Come with original box...(Read more of this comment)es, Authentic card
4) Payment: Western union, Money gram . paypal . credit card .
5) Shipment: Delivery by EMS, TNT ,DHL ,UPS ,FedEx ,door to door in 5-7 days .Drop ship accept!
We are serious company we look forward to establish a mutual trust and long time business with you in the near future sincerely. We will do our best job for you!!!
Posted: April 14 2011 at 9:09 PM
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 06/14 ]   Chris Isaak  @ State Theatre
[ 06/14 ]   Quartet of Happiness  @ Scullers Jazz Club
[ 06/14 ]   West Side Story  @ Colonial Theatre
Share this entry with Delicious
    In his new film Separado!, Gruff Rhys is riding around São Paulo when his Brazilian driver asks the shaggy-haired musician where he is from.  
    Anyone who has spent any time with one of his albums knows that it's not going to be your typical grab-a-coffee, "how's-the-missus?" sort of day.  
  •   BORIS | ATTENTION PLEASE  |  May 25, 2011
    Two new albums are out this week from Boris.
  •   AGE RINGS | BLACK HONEY  |  May 26, 2011
    With the MP3 emerging as the king format these days, anything longer than a 40-minute CD is just too long.
    The road from the first basement jam session to the indie-record deal isn't always clearly delineated with reflectors and mile markers — but hindsight usually reveals some kind of plan.  

 See all articles by: JONATHAN DONALDSON

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group