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No more updates here, and I won't be fixing any broken links. It was fun while it lasted. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Celebrating 20 Years of the Elephant 6!

Hey Folks, I'm still on a psychedelic bender. For the last several weeks I've been listening to tons of old favorites from the first Psychedelic Era plus lots of stuff I never heard. I'm in the process of compiling one heck of a Psychedelic Pseries for Burn and Shine, which will probably start the first weekend in August. So be on the lookout for Burn and Shine's Psychedelic Psundays-- the series is tentatively scheduled for ten kaleidoscopic volumes. More on that when we get there!

In the meantime, I had started to put together a little Elephant 6 playlist a few years ago that I never quite finished. While listening to all this classic era Psych-Pop and the Paisley stuff I posted earlier this month, I got to wondering how the third (fourth?) wave of Psychedelia compared. So I listened to my unfinished, Elephant 6 playlist, and I was pleasantly surprised how well this stuff has held up.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Elephant 6, it is a loose conglomerate of dozens of like-minded bands who have a knack for pop hooks and love for the killer B's of the 60s (Beatles, Beach Boys and Byrds) as well as the Velvet Underground, Syd Barrett and the Zombies. The most well-known of the E6 are probably Neutral Milk Hotel, the Apples in Stereo and the Olivia Tremor Control, as the masterminds of each of those bands (Jeff Mangum, Robert Schneider and Will Cullen Hart, repectively) are credited with founding the Collective. Depending upon who you ask, the next tier of E6 bands might include: Elf Power, Beulah, and Of Montreal. Which band is most important is sort of a moot point, as all of the players in these bands tend to show up on each others releases and at each other's shows. There has even been an Elephant 6 Orchestra playing shows in recent years.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time with these bands over the last few years. Frankly, as many in the E6 "scene" moved toward a more danceable/electronic version of Psychedelia, I sort of lost interest. But for awhile there in the late 90's and early 00's, it seemed like every new record I bought had some affiliation with the E6, or they were at least favorably compared to the Collective in the reviews I read.

According to some sources, the Elphant 6 Recording Co. is currently in its 20th year of existence. I was actually a little late to the E6 party. It was near the end of 1998 when I started hearing the chatter about Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea on a Guided by Voices email list I followed. I remember going to Chad's Records here in Chattanooga (when it was still over on Lee Hwy) and buying both NMH records on vinyl. Not necessarily so anymore, but the vinyl versions of albums used to be cheaper than CDs. I still had a tape deck in my car, so I would usually buy the vinyl and then slap it on a Maxell cassette, which is exactly what I did with the two NMH albums-- one album per side. Needless to say, I listened to that tape a lot.

Neutral Milk Hotel was my gateway to a whole new world of Psychedelic Indie Pop. Every time I went to a record store there after, I combed the used bins for bands associated with the Elephant 6. A short while later, I actually got a job at a record store in Knxoville and was DJing at WUTK, so finding these records became a lot easier (downloading was in its infancy and I didn't know what an mp3 was), though I must admit I haven't heard everything-- not even close. In fact, when I mentioned this project on a message board, someone recommended a band I completely missed back in the day, Secret Square, and they make an appearance here with the lovely, Hillarie Sydney penned, "Sparkly Green Couch".

Okay, I won't bore you anymore with rock history lessons. If you are interested in learning more about the Elephant 6, then check these links out (as well as the Wiki Article I posted above):

The AV Club: A Beginner's Guide to the Elephant 6

Pop Matters: An Oral History of the Elephant 6

The Official Elephant 6 Website

Otherwise, Happy Listening!

Transparent Dreams: A Glimpse at the Elephant 6 Co.

01. Neutral Milk Hotel, “Everything Is” 7” Single [1993]
02. The Apples in Stereo, “Shine a Light” from Tone Soul Evolution [1997]
03. The Olivia Tremor Control, “California Demise (3)” from Black Foliage: Animation Music [1999]
04. Beulah, “Score From Augusta” from When Your Heartstrings Break [1999]
05. Secret Square, “Sparkly Green Couch” from Secret Square [1995]
06. Essex Green, “Mrs. Bean” from Everything is Green [1999]
07. Dressy Bessy, “Look Around” from Pink Hearts Yellow Moons [1999]
08. The Gerbils, “Meteoroid From the Sun” from The Battle For Electricity [2001]
09. Elf Power, “O What a Beautiful Dream” from A Dream in Sound [1999]
10. Great Lakes, “Some of Shelley’s Blues” from The Distance Between [2002]
11. The High Water Marks, “Good I Feel Bad” from Songs About the Ocean [2004]
12. Instruments, “Bird Song” from Billions of Phonographs [2002]
13. Sixth Great Lake, “Cannon Beach” from Up the Country [2001]
14. The Ladybug Transistor, “Perfect for Shattering” from Argyle Heir [2001]
15. Marbles, “Pyramid Landing” Originally from a cassette-only release in 1993. This is the remastered version from Pyramid Landing and Other Favorites [1997]
16. The Minders, “Hooray for Tuesday” from Hooray for Tuesday [1998]
17. The Frosted Ambassador, “Untitled (track #4)” from The Frosted Ambassador [1999]
18. Of Montreal, “Baby” from Cherry Peel [1997]
19. The Essex Green, “Chester” from The Essex Green EP [2000]
20. The Sunshine Fix, “Age of the Sun” from Age of the Sun [2002]
21. Ulysses, “Falcon” from 010 [2004]
22. Circulatory System, “Joy” from Circulatory System [2001]
23. The Apples in Stereo, “Winter Must Be Cold” from Fun Trick Noisemaker[1995]
24. The Music Tapes, “Majesty” from Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes [2008]
25. Marshmallow Coast, “Ancient Chinese Secret” from Seniors and Juniors [1999]
26. 63 Crayons, “Go Now April” from Good People [2004]
27. Von Hemmling, “Never Alone” from Von Hemmling [Cassette-only 1993]
28. Chocolate USA, “The Boy Who Stuck His Head in the Dryer (and Whirl'd Round 'n' Round) from Smoke Machine [1994]
29. Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t, “Million Pieces” from Individualized Shirts [2001]
30. Jeff Mangum, “I Love How You Love Me” from Orange Twin Sampler [2002]

Total Time: 1:19:20

Download it here: Transparent Dreams: A Glimpse at the Elephant 6 Co.


sherri said...

Oddly enough, having lived in Athens for so long, I know zilch about this music. I know Andrew from Elf Power, super nice guy, but I've never listened to any of that El6 stuff. Sounds like it will go well with my post-surgery vicodin, so time to get schooled!

Maximum Jack said...

Love Elf Power. They probably get my vote for most unheralded E6 band. Saw them live a few times, and they could actually bring it.

Joe K. said...

No fucking way! E6 was an obsession of mine in the late 90's when Napster let me experience all kinds of music I hadn't been exposed to before. (incidently, I then began BUYING more music than ever before). NMH and OTC were mind-bogglingly mysterious and wonderful to me at the time.

If you're curious about later E6, I consider the last three Of Montreal releases to be among the best albums of the 00's. Seriously. But they've strayed far from the flock. Sunshine Fix and Circulatory System have continued in the OTC vein. Nana Grizol and possibly Dark Meat have a relationship with the collective, but it escapes me at the moment, and both have music worth listening to. Music Tapes you've certainly heard, and I would put their CD among the best of the best of E6.

Thanks for this, and very much looking forward to the psych psundays series.

Graffitika said...

This is great, thanks! One note: I believe a documentary is in the making on the E6. There's a Facebook page dedicated to it: Elephant 6 (Documentary Fil).
Thanks again for the great comp! Minders rule!

The Hypnotic Bridge said...

Excellent selection, Maximum Jack. I, too, got deep into the E6 around the late '90s, upon hearing word of Olivia Tremor Control's groovy new take on psych pop. Soon after, I saw and met many members of the collective (Elf Power, OTC, NMH, Music Tapes) at Terrastock II in San Francisco. Upon seeing Neutral Milk Hotel play, I thought I just might be witnessing the future of pop music. (Music Tapes and OTC then followed the Bevis Frond to L.A. for an amazing show at Spaceland in Silver Lake).

I would opine, however, that Bill Doss was every bit the genius behind OTC as was Will Cullen. Separately, they've been very good, but together, they made magic.