Article Contributed by Haworth House | Published on Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Since their iconic 1998 release of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”, Neutral Milk Hotel has inspired scores of indie artists, and yet few have ventured to put their own spin on the group's thoughtfully crafted lyrics and melodies. Unfamiliar Things is one of the few, with frontman Matt Levy applying his signature stacked octave vocals to Jeff Mangum’s delicately-crafted masterpiece.

The newly produced cover swaps a compressed full-sounding, energetically strummed acoustic guitar with an atmospheric, finger-picking guitar part. Additionally, the familiar trombone solo is replaced with a 1912 Steinway and Sons piano, recorded at Matt's home in Los Angeles. The idea behind this updated rendition was to bring out Jeff Mangum's songwriting genius and demonstrate that a great song is not dependent on production. As Matt commented, “the aim of this cover is to show that a great song transcends production choices. When we changed the belting style vocals to a soft and layered arrangement, the trombone for a piano, and strumming for picking, the song became haunting and melancholic, two words I never would have associated with this tune otherwise.”

The Unfamiliar Things version of "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" will be released on May 12, 2023. This follows the group's self-titled debut album and precedes their follow-up EP "Roll No Rocks", slated for release on July 1, 2023, with the cover track appearing as the second track on the EP.