Neutral Milk Hotel forces music fans to choose sides

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From the July 17, 2014 edition

Despite its name, the Jeff Mangum-led indie-rock crew tends to inspire strong reactions in music fans.

Some hail the group’s 1998 sophomore album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea as a modern classic (Arcade Fire’s Win Butler even named the record as the primary reason his band signed with Merge), while others struggle to connect with Mangum’s dreamlike lyrics, which veer from chilling (“Holland, 1945”) to playfully absurd (“King of Carrot Flowers, Part 1”). The band reunited in 2013 following a 15-year absence that added to its legend, though any new recordings remain a rumor at most.

Circulatory System and Connections, which is gearing up for the release of its latest album, Into Sixes, also perform.