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Jeff Mangum 

When: Mon., April 9, 8 p.m. and Tue., April 10, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $35

In retrospect, Neutral Milk Hotel hit at a weird time for modern (relatively) popular music. The culminating album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea came out in 1998, the result of seven or so years' worth of Jeff Mangum tinkering with a new sound somewhere in between the grunge of Nirvana and the folk-inspired tunes of Elliott Smith. Mangum was beyond his contemporaries, though; he was making what soon became widely accepted (and adored) as "indie-rock.". But Mangum and his friends, who were becoming known as the Elephant 6 Collective, didn't seem quite prepared for such a spotlight, and they quickly ducked critical acclaim in favor of a quieter lifestyle. Vestiges of the E6 Collective remained, most notably in the form of Kevin Barnes' band, of Montreal, but it wasn't until recently that Mangum poked his head back out. The gifted songwriter seems ready to heartily, albeit gradually, re-introduce himself to the public. Members of well-loved and similarly off-hiatus groups The Gerbils and Elf Power will join Mangum, for two nights  at The Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) on April 9-10, 8 p.m., $36, TheFoxOakland.com

— Will Butler

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