Neutral Uke Hotel, along with Golden Bloom and Michael J Epstein Memorial Library (members of which also make up Neutral Uke Hotel) who took the world by storm last summer with their live performances of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over The Sea will bring their ukuleles, melodicas and trumpets to Cleveland’s Grog Shop on April 22nd for a fun, yet reverential take on the classic album. The Cleveland show is part of their seven-date April tour.
Neutral Uke Hotel, made up of Shawn Fogel (vocals, ukulele), Josh Cohen (melodica), Matt Girard (trumpet), Andrew Laubacher (percussion) and Michael J. Epstein (baritone ukulele), has been playing sold out shows to enthusiastic crowds who were encouraged to sing along. Epstein, who also fronts Michael J Epstein Memorial Library, said, “People were encouraged to sing, clap, and stomp along… and they weren’t shy!”
Never fear, avid Neutral Milk Hotel fans, Fogel, front man of Golden Bloom, and the rest of Neutral Uke are quite reverential for Jeff Magnum’s classic. Fogel says of this project, “It’s one of my favorite records ever, and the album doesn’t just have fans. The people who love that album are obsessed with it. The goal of the project: to strip these songs down and get people in a room to share their love for this album.”
Fogel recently finished recording an EP to follow up to Golden Bloom’s Fan the Flames (2009); which
was compared favorably to Summerteeth-era Wilco , The New Pornographers, and Big Star. For the new EP, titled March to the Drums, Fogel once again worked with long time studio counterpart Ryan Ball as well as producer Peter Katis (Frightened Rabbit, The National, Interpol and Tokyo Police Club). He’s also recently recorded a cover of Wussy’s “Magic Words,” which is available at http://goldenbloom.bandcamp.com/track/magic-words-wussy-cover
Michael J Epstein Memorial Library works fast. Epstein recruited band members for the dectet through Facebook and Craigslist. The group formed in July, played their first show in September, recorded in November and finished their debut album, Volume One in February. The album does not feel hastily produced, though. The songs are layered in instrumentation, lyrics and vocal harmony. “Every Time I Visit You, It Rains,” for example, based on the true story of a cursed relationship ends with what Epstein calls “a free jazz rainstorm,” which was created by recording “each part without any playback of what else was going on.” The debut also features a haunting cover of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “The Weeping Song”. Both Epstein and Tanya K. Palit sing their own harmonies in this conversation between father and son that was chosen because its darkness would draw people’s attention to the lyrics and ideas on the rest of the album.
Neutral Uke Hotel Tour Dates
4/20/11 Brighton Music Hall,Boston, MA
4/21/11 Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
4/22/11 Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH
4/23/11 Schubas Tavern, Chicago, IL
4/24/11 Gabe’s, Iowa City, IA
4/26/11 Garfield Artworks, Pittsburgh, PA
4/27/11 World Cafe Live (Upstairs), Philadelphia, PA