->''"The Earth looks better from a star, that's right above from where you are."''
--> -- '''Neutral Milk Hotel''', "Holland, 1945"

[[caption-width-right:350:[[{{Retraux}} Very old-fashioned.]][[labelnote:*]]Clockwise from top: Scott Spillane, [[Music/AHawkAndAHacksaw Jeremy Barnes]], Jeff Mangum, [[Podcast/TheOrbitingHumanCircusOfTheAir Julian Koster]][[/labelnote]]]]

Neutral Milk Hotel are a highly influential indie rock band that consisted of Jeff Mangum (vocals, guitar), Scott Spillane (horns), Jeremy Barnes (drums), and Julian Koster (multiple instruments). Along with ''Music/TheOliviaTremorControl'' and ''Music/TheApplesInStereo'', one of the three main bands forming Music/{{Elephant 6}}'s first wave.

Jeff Mangum formed a band called Synthetic Flying Machine with high school friends Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss in the late 1980s. Though the band never fully got much recognition, they stayed together for a couple of years, eventually changing their name to The Olivia Tremor Control. Mangum soon got the desire to do some experimentation with a separate project and that's where Neutral Milk Hotel was born.

After leaving The Olivia Tremor Control, Mangum started putting more work into Neutral Milk Hotel and in 1996 their first album, ''Music/OnAveryIsland'' was released. Though critically praised, this album is -- [[BrokenBase perhaps rather unfairly]] -- not nearly as remembered as their CultClassic that would be released next.

Over the next two years, Mangum would develop a strange obsession with [[Literature/TheDiaryOfAYoungGirl Anne Frank]] and the Holocaust, and he would start writing lyrics for what would appear on ''Music/InTheAeroplaneOverTheSea'', which is considered a modern classic. The album was released in 1998 and the band toured in support of it, but as touring persisted, Mangum's obsession just grew stronger. Eventually music press wouldn't leave him alone and the depression of his thoughts constantly swirling around his obsession caused him to have a nervous breakdown, which caused the band to split in 1999.

Hints of reunions have circulated around over the past years, but nothing definite as to whether or not they'd truly get back together. Finally, in 2013 the full band was reunited, if only for a tour. As of yet, there's no information on possible new records. Music/ArcadeFire said that they signed to Merge Records because it was Neutral Milk Hotel's record label. Because of this, the two bands are constantly compared. In contrast, Jeremy Barnes' other band, Music/AHawkAndAHacksaw, is so wildly different from his work with NMH that the two are rarely compared.

!!Neutral Milk Hotel contains examples of the following tropes:
* AlbumTitleDrop: On ''Aeroplane'''s TitleTrack; "And one day we will die, and our ashes will fly from ''the aeroplane over the seeeeaaaa...''"
* BadassBeard: Scott Spillane sports quite an astounding example of this, and as of 2012, so does Jeff.
* CarefulWithThatAxe: Used on "Rubby Bulbs", "Sailing Through", and various SFM-era recordings (''Invent Yourself A Shortcake'').
* CloudCuckooLander: Jeff Mangum is known for being a bit... ''odd''... If his [[WordSaladLyrics lyrics]] weren't any indication, but Jeff is ''downright mundane'' compared to [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7PsGipAraQ Julian Koster]]. Oh, sweet Jesus Julian Koster... He's not dressing up in that page picture. ''He just goes out like that.'' The guy is from another planet. Think like if [[Franchise/HarryPotter Luna Lovegood]] had a kid with Creator/EmoPhillips, and that's a bit like what he's like.
-->'''Website/YouTube Comment''': I met Julian Koster. He played a concert in my basement on his Christmas Caroling Tour in November. He made my friends and me write down our deepest wishes on pieces of paper, and he lit them on fire, and he put some weird powder in the fire, and he blew the pieces away into the wind. That night, he ate my peanut butter, and he slept on my couch, and he told me that I could become a professor one day. He told me I could achieve anything I set my mind to, and I believe him with all of my heart.
* DooWopProgression: Used in "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea."
* EpicRocking: "Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye", "Oh Comely", "Message Sent", "Ferris Wheel On Fire", the "Rubby Bulbs"/"Snow Song Pt. 2" live medley-thing...
* [[EverythingIsanInstrument Everything is an Instrument]]: Notably Julian Koster's use of the singing saw, though that method of playing a saw as an instrument isn't unique to the band. Aside from that, though, are plenty of other things thrown in, much of which is done by Julian Koster (whose side project The Music Tapes is filled with this trope). On ''In the Aeroplane over the Sea'' Mangum is credited with playing shortwave radio and tapes, and Koster is credited for "white noise" (most likely the background noises in "Communist Daughter").
* EverythingsLouderWithBagpipes: These guys loved their bagpipes and horns.
* FadingIntoTheNextSong: Many of their songs faded into each other, especially live.
* GriefSong: Much of ''In The Aeroplane Over The Sea''.
* IdenticalStranger: People note how much Jeff looks like Creator/WesAnderson. [[http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/archive/2008/02/1_123125_2066611_2180690_2184208_080226_mb_magnum.jpg.CROP.original-original.jpg Compare]] [[https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTY1MjgzODIwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTM2NzExMw@@._V1_UY317_CR10,0,214,317_AL_.jpg the two.]]
* {{Instrumental}}: "Fool", "Marching Theme", "Pree Sisters Swallowing A Donkey's Eye".
* LostEpisode: Many songs performed live by the band, while probably recorded at some point, have never even been bootlegged in their studio incarnations. The most infamous example is perhaps fan favorite song "Ferris Wheel On Fire" or "My Skull".
** "Ferris Wheel on Fire," along with other fan favorites, among them "My Dreamgirl Don't Exist" and "Little Birds," the only song known to have been recorded since "Aeroplane," received an official release in 2011 along with some re-recorded tracks as part of the "Walking Wall of Words" compilation package.
* LoudnessWar: ''In the Aeroplane over the Sea'' is really clipped for a folk album, with a dynamic range rating of [=DR6=] and a [=ReplayGain=] value of -9.80 dB. The 2009 vinyl appears to have been sourced from the same master as the CD. This may be a case of digital distortion being used intentionally (the album actually credits "white noise" as a musical instrument) but it's still really disorienting at first.
* MadnessMantra
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Generally around a soft 2-4, though some songs, especially from earlier years, arguably reach a 5 due to the strange instrumentation.
* MyNaymeIs: It's Man'''''gum''''', not Magnum.
** Subverted, as Jeff himself has said he really doesn't care how people spell or pronounce his name.
* NoPunctuationPeriod: The insert for ''In the Aeroplane over the Sea'' writes the lyrics as one giant run-on sentence.
* NotChristianRock: "King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 2" starts off with the lines "I love you Jesus Christ". Many people confuse this for a Christian rock song. Notice that a part of the lyrics for this song is absent from the booklet, [[AllThereInTheManual with this message being there instead]]: "a song for an old friend a song for a new friend and now a song for Jesus Christ and since this seems to confuse people i'd like to simply say that i mean what i sing although the theme of endless endless on this album is not based on any religion but more in the belief that all things seem to contain a white light within them that i see as eternal."
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: "Little Birds" was written about Matthew Shepard.
* RecycledInSpace: ''In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'' is Anne Frank... ON FREUD
* RetroUniverse: Like the rest of Music/{{Elephant 6}}, NHM is very [[TheSixties Sixties]] inspired. ''...Aeroplane'' in particular references [=WW2=] in its lyrics.
* SpiritualSuccessor: While Music/ArcadeFire is the most immediately discussed candidate, their work after ''Funeral'' became progressively further from their NMH influence. Commonly discussed successors in [[ImageBoards certain communities that idolize Neutral Milk Hotel]] include Phil Elverum (specifically his album ''Music/TheGlowPt2''), [[AllLowercaseLetters joordan mason and the horse museum]], and Seamonster.
* StopAndGo: In "Ferris Wheel on Fire."
* StudioChatter:
** At the end of "Oh Comely", backup guitarist Robert Schneider can be heard yelling "HOLY SHIT!" Given that they'd just nailed the 8-minute song in the first take, who can blame him?
** "Two-Headed Boy, Part II" ends with Mangum putting down his guitar and walking out of the studio.
** "Song Against Sex" opens with Jeff and Robert Schneider talking.
* ThreeChordsAndTheTruth: The band is known for using simple guitar chord progressions, with songs that have only three or four chords ("King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 1-3," "Ghost," "Oh Comely," and "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" just to name a few ) and one song with only one chord ("Rubby Bulbs").
* VocalTagTeam: Mangum does this with ''himself'' in "The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1," to disorienting effect.
* WordSaladLyrics: The lyrics are extremely dense and esoteric, more thematic than anything literal - they still draw a narrative, but in very abstract ways.
* WordSaladTitle: Take a look at that band name.