Released in 1998, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of the most influential indie albums of all time and also one of its most cryptic. The album is difficult to categorize into any one genre, it's often described as a mix of indie rock and psychedelic folk. The album blends traditional rock instruments, such as guitars and drums, with more unique instruments like the singing saw and zanzithophone. Jeff Mangum's heavily distorted acoustic guitar playing and the backing horn section are critical components for much of the album and give the album its unique sound. The surreal lyrics are another reason for the album's popularity, with many fans and critics arguing over their cryptic meaning. While reviews were mixed upon release, the album saw its critical standing rise tremendously in the following years, with most publications ranking it among the best indie albums ever.
The definitive cult-classic band, Neutral Milk Hotel grew from complete obscurity in Ruston, Louisiana, to a band every music lover has an opinion of, love or hate. They were formed by Jeff Mangum, whose painfully earnest vocals earned him the reputation of being simultaneously mesmerizing and grating at the same time. Their one of the earliest bands to find organic success through word-of-mouth online, which only bolstered their mystique. Despite their humble history and modest financial success, Neutral Milk Hotel will be forever remembered as a cultural touchstone within indie music.