13. Neutral Milk Hotel
Years active: 1989 - 1999 (on hiatus) Influenced: Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Beirut, Franz Ferdinand, The Decemberists, Bright Eyes, The Mountain Goats Hometown: Ruston, Louisiana Jam: "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." This song has soundtracked far too many personal moments for far too many people to ever fully be represented in a sentence, but, the sentiment of carpe diem in the solitary little universe of this song never gets old.
Mixing lamenting literary allusions with noise-based guitar rock, Jeff Mangum's magnum opus In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was one of two full-length albums that Neutral Milk Hotel produced, but it was enough to firmly cement them in the foundations of indie rock forever. The incorporation of ghostly organs and synths, boisterous horns and full-fledged electronic guitar rock met the strange companionship of Mangum's dream-like, disconnected poetry. The criss-cross of sound and lyric in this album, and their few other projects, attracted little praise at first, but soon cultural attention snowballed and now Mangum is lauded as a visionary—and rightly so in our book.