Few things in life make me happier than finding out bands I love love the bands I love more than those bands themselves.
And, upon professing such a thought, I realize that reads as a bit convoluted.
To put it a bit more simply, I love Neutral Milk Hotel. I fucking love Neutral Milk Hotel. I also love Kevin Devine, Brand New, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Eisley. And they love Neutral Milk Hotel as well. And that brings my heart an immeasurable amount of joy.
Eisley is a charming band of siblings plus one cousin from Texas that's been making music together for about ten years, since the youngest female member, keyboardist Stacy, was just 8. Their music often gets described as angelic thanks in part to the clear and gorgeous voices of co-singers Stacy Dupree and Sherri formerly-Dupree-once-Gilbert-and-now-Bemis and is frequently compared to fairy tales for Eisley's penchant for unique imagery that occasionally includes princesses and dragons.
I find nothing wrong with writing songs about dragons although I do find Eisley's sugary sweetness best in moderation. They're inarguably beautiful and this cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's amazing and powerful song In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is no different.
Eisley - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
This is not the first time Andrew Jackson Jihad has graced The Hot Half Life. A spastic, wildly inappropriate and incredibly catchy duo from Arizona, Andrew Jackson Jihad is what you might call "folk-punk" or "anti-folk" if you prefer... Or just plain old "folk". Regardless of what you classify them as, with lyrics like "I like laughing at retards and I like throwing rocks at dogs but darling, I love you", you can definetly call them "polarizing"... Or "awesome". With songs about molestation, the existence of god and murder, it's not a wonder that wikipedia calls them "controversial".
Usually, when I fall in love with a musician, I can hear the influences of the bands they love in their work. However, I was somewhat shocked to find out that Andrew Jackson Jihad had the same adoration for Jeff Mangum as myself. After the shock wore off, however, I found myself thrilled, especially after hearing Sean Bonette's energetic take on Two Headed Boy Part 1.
Andrew Jackson Jihad - Two Headed Boy
Oh, Kevin Devine. Few people I've heard can do a cover like Kevin Devine. Joined in the above photograph by Brand New's Jesse Lacey, another Neutral Milk Hotel afficianado, Kevin Devine seamlessly weaves his own gorgeous inflections into songs by Elliott Smith, Wilco, Concrete Blonde and, of course, Neutral Milk Hotel without disrespecting the original artist in any way or losing any of his own originality. If you need proof more than just the below cover of Holland, 1945 and my humble word, I suggest checking out his cover of You Are My Sunshine, with the lyrics twisted around to become quite the tale of loss.
Brand New, while on album a very electric-based band, have some absolutely breathtaking acoustic cover songs floating around on these here internets and, much like the original, their cover of Oh, Comely is heartwrenching and absolutely gorgeous.
Kevin Devine - Holland, 1945
Brand New - Oh, Comely
Until Jeff Mangum decides to give up his ghosts and do a long awaited solo tour (because secret shows with the Elephant 6 just don't cut it, thank you very much!) or a Neutral Milk Hotel reuniuon, these covers are the best we've got.
Thankfully, they're damn good covers.