On Avery Island is the debut album by Neutral Milk Hotel, released on March 26, 1996. Recorded from 1994 and 1996, there are a few key differences between this album and Neutral Milk Hotel's more celebrated release, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea; there were five session musicians accompanying Jeff Mangum rather than the oft-remembered 1998 lineup, along with the tracks having more energy to them (best exemplified in the opening track, "Song Against Sex").
While stuck in the shadow of Neutral Milk Hotel's followup, On Avery Island is still regarded as a fine album by both critics and fans. It helped to cement the characteristic sounds featured on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: the low fidelity, Jeff's unique voice and the bizarre lyricism. As such, it's seen a resurgence in popularity in light of ITAOTS's current cult status.
- Jeff Mangum - guitar, drums, vocals, bells, xylophone, air organ, keyboards, tapes
- Robert Schneider - air organs, home organs, fuzz bass, xylophone, horn arrangements
- Lisa Janssen - fuzz bass on tracks 2 and 8
- Steven Zhu - violin, flute, and backup vocals
- Kelsea Giannini - accordion and bells
- Rick Benjamin - trombone
- "Song Against Sex" (3:40)
- "You've Passed" (2:54)
- "Someone Is Waiting" (2:31)
- "A Baby for Pree" (1:21)
- "Marching Theme" (2:58)
- "Where You'll Find Me Now" (4:04)
- "Avery Island/April 1st" (1:48)
- "Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone " (3:14)
- "Three Peaches" (4:01)
- "Naomi" (4:53)
- "April 8th" (2:47)
- "Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye" (13:49)
They're all waiting here for tropes:
- Dark Reprise: "April 8th" is this for "Avery Island/April 1st".
- Either/Or Title: "Avery Island/April 1st" and "Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone".
- Epic Rocking: "Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye".
- Fading into the Next Song: Done quite often.
- Grief Song: "You've Passed".
- Instrumental: "Marching Theme", "Avery Island/April 1st", "Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye".
- Last Note Nightmare: "Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye" serves as this for the album.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "You've Passed"/"Someone Is Waiting", "April 8th"/"Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye".
- Stalker with a Crush: The narrator in "Naomi" doesn't hide the fact he is this.
- Studio Chatter: In the beginning of "Song Against Sex".
- Title Track: The seventh track, sort of.
- Three Chords and the Truth: It's an integral part of this album, as it is for the other.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Definitely there.