Jeff Mangum, the frontman of the critically acclaimed yet short-lived band Neutral Milk Hotel has released a song (albeit a cover song) for the first time in over a decade. Jeff contributed a cover of the Tall Dwarfs’ song “Sign the Dotted Line” (which can be heard below) for the compilation Stroke:Songs for Chris Knox whose proceeds will go to benefit Chris Knox (of Tall Dwarfs, Toy Love, and his solo work) who recently suffered a stroke and is recovering at his home in New Zealand. If you’re interested, there’s more information at the official Chris Knox Stroke website.
Now Jeff Mangum has been somewhat of a recluse since disbanding Neutral Milk Hotel in 1999; however, he has made a few public appearances (most recently on the Elephant Six Holiday Tour where he played “Engine” on several stops) and released a few musical things (most notably his Orange Twin Fieldworks: Vol. 1 and a contribution to Major Organ and the Adding Machine) although none have really fell into the singer/songwirter aesthetic he was known for in Neutral Milk Hotel. That is, until now.
“Sign the Dotted Line” is a straight forward, short song lacking the amazing visual imagery and lyrics Mangum was known for; nevertheless, it is great to find Jeff singing once again and quite refreshing to hear how his voice has aged a bit over the years. Granted, “Sign the Dotted Line” is no “Little Birds” (check out the chilling video below), which was the last and only known unreleased song of Mangum’s after In The Aeroplane Over the Sea; however, after this long of a hiatus, we’ll take whatever we can get. One can only hope now that there will be more releases to come from Jeff in the future.