Known by some ignorant fools as "the other Neutral Milk Hotel album." NMH's full-length LP debut, released March 26, 1996 in North America on Merge Records and later in the same year in the United Kingdom under Fire Records. Avery Island is a small tourist attraction on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in the Lafayette area, south of New Iberia. It is famous for its production of Tabasco sauce and its beautiful jungle gardens. Lead singer and songwriter Jeff Magnum is a resident of Louisiana, though he comes from Ruston, a college town on the near polar opposite end of the state.
On Avery Island is a concept album, of sorts, but the concept is musical, not lyrical. Some would describe the album in its entirety as motivic, but that's a term with a somewhat subjective definition. Certainly, if nothing else, we can say that On Avery Island has keys, progressions, themes, or other musical ideas that constantly reappear throughout the album. The patterns without the feeling of repetition give the album a unique cohesion and linearity, and grants us a concept album without the baggage of over-complexity or false pretension.
But that is not to say that On Avery Island is not a challenging album. It is highly self-indulging, noisy, and persistent--at times insistent. And while it is maybe not very musically complicated, the dissonances and non-acoustic distortions, processing, and general "fuziness" can be nigh indigestible at times. Tracks like Marching Theme or Pree-Sisters might make listeners feel like they're underwater at best, and trudging through mindless auditory mud at worst. Which, to me, is strength, bravery, and weirdness that complements and completes an album with so many points of vulnerability and self-effacement, especially lyrically.
Its reputation will always be overshadowed by its big brother. It might even be deserved, and either way the fact will never change. While its counterpart is sheer genius approachable in pieces, this is sheer genius most approachable as a whole. But at the point that you've well reached 1,000 plays on Aeroplane and you've fully adjusted to the fact that Magnum is a Matilda among Matildas, put this record on. Let it spin a few times. Stop. Wait a few days. Let it sit on your mind. Play it again, slowly start tapping, strumming, singing along, and complete your love affair.
01. Song Against Sex
02. You've Passed
03. Someone is Waiting
04. A Baby for Pree
05. Marching Theme
06. Where You'll Find Me Now
07. Avery Island/April 1st
08. Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
09. Three Peaches
11. April 8th
12. Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey's Eye
Fire's U.K. release had two more songs; "Everything Is" and "Snow Song pt. 1" that weren't included on the original, and apparently the LP has an abbreviated version of Pree-Sisters at 03:28, essentially just covering the "meat" of the song, without the infamous outro. I will admit, I did not know any of this last information before I read the
And here's another website.
More good reads, some quotes.