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 
02. The Apples in Stereo, “Shine a Light” from Tone Soul Evolution 
03. The Olivia Tremor Control, “California Demise (3)” from Black Foliage: Animation Music 
04. Beulah, “Score From Augusta” from When Your Heartstrings Break 
05. Secret Square, “Sparkly Green Couch” from Secret Square 
06. Essex Green, “Mrs. Bean” from Everything is Green 
07. Dressy Bessy, “Look Around” from Pink Hearts Yellow Moons 
08. The Gerbils, “Meteoroid From the Sun” from The Battle For Electricity 
09. Elf Power, “O What a Beautiful Dream” from A Dream in Sound 
10. Great Lakes, “Some of Shelley’s Blues” from The Distance Between 
11. The High Water Marks, “Good I Feel Bad” from Songs About the Ocean 
12. Instruments, “Bird Song” from Billions of Phonographs 
13. Sixth Great Lake, “Cannon Beach” from Up the Country 
14. The Ladybug Transistor, “Perfect for Shattering” from Argyle Heir 
15. Marbles, “Pyramid Landing” Originally from a cassette-only release in 1993. This is the remastered version from Pyramid Landing and Other Favorites 
16. The Minders, “Hooray for Tuesday” from Hooray for Tuesday 
17. The Frosted Ambassador, “Untitled (track #4)” from The Frosted Ambassador 
18. Of Montreal, “Baby” from Cherry Peel 
19. The Essex Green, “Chester” from The Essex Green EP 
20. The Sunshine Fix, “Age of the Sun” from Age of the Sun 
21. Ulysses, “Falcon” from 010 
22. Circulatory System, “Joy” from Circulatory System 
23. The Apples in Stereo, “Winter Must Be Cold” from Fun Trick Noisemaker
24. The Music Tapes, “Majesty” from Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes 
25. Marshmallow Coast, “Ancient Chinese Secret” from Seniors and Juniors 
26. 63 Crayons, “Go Now April” from Good People 
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 
29. Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t, “Million Pieces” from Individualized Shirts 
30. Jeff Mangum, “I Love How You Love Me” from Orange Twin Sampler 
Total Time: 1:19:20
Download it here: Transparent Dreams: A Glimpse at the Elephant 6 Co.