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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

(33⅓ #29)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,909 ratings  ·  178 reviews
Cooper's book explores the deep friendships that fed the band's
evolution, its role within the Elephant 6 creative community and
previously unpublished information on recordings, songwriting and
touring, and explains some of the reasons why band leader Jeff Mangum
felt compelled to retreat from public life just as his band was taking
off. It includes a dozen rare images, most n
Paperback, 104 pages
Published November 16th 2005 by Continuum
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,909 ratings  ·  178 reviews

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Apr 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
soft silly music is meaningful magical

"When you were young you were the king of carrot flowers...."

I'd argue that the best two rock-based albums of the 1990's were Jane's Addiction's Ritual de lo Habitual and Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Other albums released in this decade might have had a higher volume of great songs, they might have songs I like better than anything on these two albums but as a whole piece of work, as a flowing collection songs that flow together and
Paul Austin
Apr 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
There’s a good chunk of people out there who wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to this album. Doesn’t sound so unique, right? Lo-fi singer/guitarist, psychedelic lyrics chock full of historical references (Anne Frank?), a brass section coming in unexpectedly… believe it or not, it isn’t all that uncommon. But what listeners might be forgetting — or simply don’t realize — is that in ‘97, within the increasingly rule-bound confines of indie rock, this band did it first. Neutral Milk ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it liked it
A good read, but I was disappointed with several things. Firstly, I expected more analysis of the themes in the album, and there's almost none of that--90% of the book is devoted to the context, recording, etc. (which is great, and I'm glad it's all in there!) Halfway through, the author is like "So the editors asked me if I was going to do a line-by-line analysis and I definitely didn't want to tear apart the album by doing that!" but COME ON! You wrote a book solely about one album! Analyze it ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be fair, the book wasn't what I expected it to be. And where do I get off expecting a book to be anything?

I wanted a detailed analysis of the album itself, the songs, even a breakdown of what instruments were played where, etc. This book does not provide that. There was only one brief chapter on lyrics. Overall though, it's very well written, and there's plenty of discussion of the band's sound as a whole, and a very interesting bit on how the record was produced (with fuzz!), and a history o
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Before reading Kim Cooper’s "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" I had previously read a couple of other books in the 33 1/3 series (one on REM’s "Murmur" and the other on The Beach Boys’ "Pet Sounds"). Murmur and Pet Sounds were both albums that I loved before reading the books about them; they were albums that I had already memorized backwards and forwards and I already loved every single note on those albums, and reading a book about each one of them only made me love those albums even more. But, ...more
Matthew Fitzgerald
Jan 02, 2010 rated it liked it
It's hard to write a review for this book without having it clouded by what I was expecting from it. I became a fan of NMH a few years ago and have orbited this album for years, returning to it at odd times and delving deeper and deeper into its lyrics and lore each time. So when I learned that this book existed, I was really excited to read a dissection of the music, a literary analysis of the work as a whole. What I got instead was a placement of this album: historically in the Elephant 6 "mov ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 33-1-3
Interesting take by someone who obviously adores the band and the album but who avoids the usual mania of the hardcore NMH cult member and the pretension of the indie rock critic (although the author does go off the rails a couple of times -- for example, Jeff Mangum's self-imposed exile is not at all like Anne Frank's actual death. Not even a little bit). I liked this book very much and feel like I got a sense of what it was like to be at the creation of this music and the scene that grew aroun ...more
Apr 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: musical collectives
Shelves: musiccriticism
It's not a fanboy book! I swear!
It's only kind of a fanboy book! I swear!
It's only kind of for cult members and sunshine children and those who like to scream religious rants into microphones in the early morning as deaf grandmothers knit in the other room of a small white house in Queens!

I swear!
Paul Siegell
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
all this did was make me even more obsessed with this band than i already was.
Jon Hewelt
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this series, and this book is a wonderful, wonderful addition to it.

33 1/3 is a series about albums: each author dissects, in its own way, an album that speaks to them. That exploration may take the shape of an oral history, an analysis of the music, an interpretation of themes, or a personal anecdote of how the album shaped the author's life. As to be expected, this freedom results in certain expectations not being met by certain readers, for certain titles.

I mention this because, curiou
Malcolm Almuntazar-Harris
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely recommend to any music enthusiasts out there who want to learn a little bit of history behind one of the most (in)famous and iconic albums in indie music. Cooper gives a great run-down of the Athens DIY music scene that ultimately led to the conditions which produced Neutral Milk Hotel and then their two albums. Accompanied with many interesting tidbits about the lives and personalities of the members. Also Cooper provided really interesting context to each song in the album along wit ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
that two-headed boy tho
J.T. Wilson
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was love at first sight for me and 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea': three-quarters of the way through my first listen to it, I was ordering it on Amazon. It somehow manages to be everything at once: it's simultaneously extremely direct and completely opaque; robustly conceptual (recurring characters including a two-headed boy, a Siamese twin called Goldaline, Anne Frank) and glued together from abstractions; ramshackle and chaotic yet meticulous; recorded on acoustic instruments yet full of f ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: hardcore music lovers, indie rock nerds
The 33 1/3 series is a pretty nifty idea: write short, yet thorough books based on a seminal album. I first heard about this series when a friend of mine sent information about the publisher seeking pitches for the next one. I was intrigued. And surprised, because my library has a bunch of them. I picked "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea" first because for the last six months, I've had Neutral Milk Hotel on the brain.

The book was clearly written with love and the research and interviews of people i
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
"...there's something pure and infinite in you, that wants to come out of you, and can come out of no other person on the planet. That's what you've got to share, and that's as real and important as the fact that you're alive. We were able, at a really young age, to somehow protect each other so we could feel that. The world at large, careerism, money, magazines, your parents, the people at the rock club in your town, other kids, nothing is going to give you that message, necessarily. In fact, m ...more
Max Maxwell
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I don't want to go on about this book more than I have on every music forum on the Internet, suffice to say that it is excellent, and certainly the best book in the 33 series. Cooper is crisp both in tone and approach to subject matter, and leaves no question unanswered. Here you can learn, for example, that the fuzz on "King of Carrot Flowers 2 & 3" was created after the fact, in the studio, by direct-plugging an acoustic guitar into the soundboard, a serious faux pas to most bands, but of ...more
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've heard mixed things about the 33 1/3 series, but I was more than excited to check this series out.

For me, this made a perfect entry. It's an album I love and one that carries its own mythos. Even more, I was able to see Neutral Milk Hotel last year during their farewell tour. To gain some insight into the history of the band and their process was wonderful for me. I loved the "behind the music" feel, and ate this book up in a single sitting.

If you're looking for an analysis of the album or e
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
the insight on the song 'Oh, Comely'-- i should scan and paste it so you guys can read it-- was Excellent. So interesting to read, it even cast light onto the last 2 seconds of a song i'd listened to many many times.

but the book, as a whole, really was just ok...

if every 33 1/3 has one insight like that, i guess i'd read more. it is a really quick read, one sitting. has anyone read any others? if i was to read another, would you vote for My Bloody Valentine's Loveless or the Beastie Boy's Paul's
lucy  black
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is my number 1 most loved album, So I was hesitant about this book. Things I didn't like about it were: the writing style, the fact after fact after fact stuff and the way the author only scratches the surface of the band's personalities and the things they were into. I did like: The insight into the songs, the descriptions of the areas and the photos. The woods and the ghosties are stuck in my head.
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
this is a beautiful, dedicated book. i was hesitant to read something about my favorite album for fear that it would damage my reception of it forever. instead my deep love for the album has only been intensified as the context of a band built on friendship in a do-it-yourself, haphazard way now colors my feelings. as emotional as this album already makes me, now it's only moreso. i listened to the entire album with my eyes closed today. twice.
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
An awesome gift with some neat insights into the making of an incredible album. Thanks Dr. Fitz-B!
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book makes me love the album even more.
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, favorites
Yes! This is the way to do this series. Context, reviews, interviews. Yes.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aeroplane is the album that opened me up to independent music, and somewhere in between when I first listened to it and this summer, I forgot its significance to me. These past few months I've rediscovered this amazing band, and a newfound influence that it has on my own music.

That being said, this is the best 33 1/3 book that I've read so far. Not only does it include a dearth of information on Aeroplane and it's songs, it also provides a detailed narrative of Mangum's early life and the frien
Richard Gray
How strange it is to be anything at all. Kim Cooper's 33 1/3 book on what is one of my favourite albums is a fine companion to the record that inspired it. Part band biography, covering their inception through to the recording of the titular LP, Cooper dives deep into the recording process but gives the songs themselves some distance. This approach, as she describes it in a chapter simply titled 'The songs,' means that "the album remains the primary text, and your reactions to it the secondary o ...more
Ryan Foo
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a pretty big Elephant 6 fan and this was a really great read. Honestly, I am glad Cooper did not analyze lyrics or the meaning behind one sound or get into some pseudo-philosophical meaning behind Aeroplane Over the Sea. Music is music; if it's magical to you then it just is, no extra meaning behind it.

I loved how she got into the history of Elephant 6; reading about how a community of artists and musicians get together because they simply loved hanging out and working on their art was awe
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Usually explanations of how an art came into being goes some way towards ruining the ambiguities that make that art great (for me, at least). But here, somehow, I've come through unscathed. I had a preconception of NMH as a bunch of pros, with the end result a fait accompli. Having that turned upside down (the idea that the band as such were a fluid, late invention; that the musicians and characters were as chaotic perhaps as the music itself) has done nothing to "ruin the mystery" - on the cont ...more
Jordan Neville
This book felt more like a mini bio of the band than a deep dive into the album of the title. This isn’t exactly what I was excepting but it was still an enjoyable read. This is easily one of my favorite records and has been for many years. I felt this book would have been better had there been more analysis of the songs and recording of the album.

Mostly I’m just stoked to have discovered the 33 1/3 book series. I will most definitely be reading more of them.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cooper's addition to the 33 1/3 series is wonderful. She provides a glowing mini history of both the members of Neutral Milk Hotel and their music, including On Avery Island. Though not exhaustive, it's more information than you might find on the band's wikipedia page. And the firsthand accounts from musicians and friends in the industry are worthwhile.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a quintessential 33 1/3 book. It takes a particular angle on the album, in this case, the story of how Elephant 6 and Neutral Milk Hotel came together for a brief moment to make it, and tells it in a way that encourages absolute obsession with the music.
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This is a book? 8 116 Feb 13, 2009 04:43PM  
  • The Pixies' Doolittle
  • The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • Loveless
  • Murmur
  • Pet Sounds
  • Paul's Boutique
  • The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
  • Low
  • The Stone Roses
  • Grace
  • Exile on Main St.
  • Ramones
  • Swordfishtrombones
  • Daydream Nation
  • Double Nickels on the Dime
  • Bee Thousand
  • Highway 61 Revisited
  • Pink Moon
Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric's popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include  On Bunker Hill  and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third ...more

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