Top Five Post-Neutral Milk Hotel Bands

Published on May 30th, 2009 in: Issues, Listicles, Music, Top Five Lists |



One of the few post-Neutral Milk Hotel endeavors to which Mangum has signed his name is Orange Twin Field Works: Volume 1, a compilation of Bulgarian field recordings. This album could be seen as a primary point of departure for Zach Condon, the twenty-two-year-old wunderkind behind an indie orchestra called Beirut. Like the Elephant 6 family of bands that included NMH, Condon seemed to come out of nowhere, specifically Santa Fe. His music shares with NMH a sense of ambition and a rudimentary approach to music that seem on first listen to be at odds with one another—as with his four-track recordings of elaborate brass and woodwind arrangements. His voice has a larger, more operatic quality than Mangum’s, influenced as he is by Scott Walker and Jacques Brel. Beirut’s first album, Gulag Orkestar, was produced by NMH drummer Jeremy Barnes, and Condon has made frequent appearances on Barnes’ A Hawk and a Hacksaw albums.

laura gibson

Laura Gibson

At first glance, Laura Gibson might appear to be a follower by proxy of the great and good Jeff Mangum. Her ties to fellow Portland, Oregonians the Decemberists are strong: Hush Records, who released the first Decemberists albums, also put out her album Beast of Seasons, and Carson Ellis (the Decemberists’ in-house illustrator) drew the cover art for both her full-length album and her first EP. Like Colin Meloy and Jeff Mangum before her, Gibson came out of nowhere—specifically, rural Oregon—and whiled away long hours learning to play guitar. While many of the bands that made this list draw on the anthemic and theatrical qualities of Neutral Milk Hotel’s music, Gibson instead reaches for the contemplative, stream-of-consciousness qualities that made songs like “O Comely” and “Engine” so notable. Her dry, deadpan voice is the perfect vehicle for her surreal-yet-heartfelt lyrics. Hearing a flugelhorn solo weave through her song “Hands in Pockets” further underscores the melancholy and contentment of her wry observation.


I Heard Your Voice In Cambridge: Elvis Perkins In Dearland, Popshifter May/June 2009 issue

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One Response to “Top Five Post-Neutral Milk Hotel Bands”

  1. tom williams:
    May 31st, 2009 at 5:35 pm


    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this. I wrote something very similar a few months back (, so it’s really cool to see people thinking along similar lines.

    I’ve never heard any Elvis Perkins or Laura Gibson so I’m off to check them out now! Thanks for the tips!

    – tom

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