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A Crash Course in the Elephant 6 Recording Co.

Listen along on Spotify as you read.

The Olivia Tremor Control melded psychedelic experimentation and pure pop melody, fronted by longtime friends Will Hart and Bill Doss, who died in 2012. The band’s 1996 debut album, “Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle,” is one of the high-water marks of the Elephant 6 scene, and the jangly, tuneful “Jumping Fences” demonstrates why. Like many 19-year-olds who came before me and, hopefully, many who will follow, it blew my mind when I first heard it in college. (Listen on YouTube)

Fronted by Schneider and formed when he was temporarily living in Denver, the Apples in Stereo are the most sugary sweet of the Elephant 6 bands; their infectious tunes recall the sunshine pop of the ’60s coated with layers of tape hiss. After a run of singles and EPs, “Fun Trick Noisemaker,” the Apples’ 1995 debut that features the bouncy fan favorite “Glowworm,” was the first full-length LP to bear the Elephant 6 stamp. (Listen on YouTube)

Though the dream-pop group Elf Power recorded this 1999 song in New York with the accomplished producer Dave Fridmann, its introverted titular character still captures that imaginative, small-town spirit out of which so many Elephant 6 bands sprung: “Jane was the one who would always have her fun when she’s lying on her bed, making visions in her head,” the frontman Andrew Rieger sings. Sounds like Jane’s about to start a band. (Listen on YouTube)

Neutral Milk Hotel’s first album, “On Avery Island” from 1996, overflows with ideas, lo-fi resourcefulness and ramshackle energy. On its lead track, “Song Against Sex,” Mangum creates one of his soon-to-be-signature surrealist musical frescoes, while regal blasts of horns and crashing percussion give the song an antic maximalism. (Listen on YouTube)

The Olivia Tremor Control pushed even further into the realm of psychedelia on its great second album, “Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One,” from 1999. On this track, hooky melodies and moments of pop lucidity suddenly burst forth from textured cacophony. (Listen on YouTube)

Here’s an effervescent fuzz-pop gem from the Apples in Stereo’s 2002 album, “Velocity of Sound.” One of the longest running Elephant 6 bands, the Apples have also had some of the most high-profile cultural crossovers: cameos on “The Powerpuff Girls” and, later, “The Colbert Report.” Just as unexpectedly, Schneider is now a mathematician who teaches at Michigan Technological University — and, to the surprise of his students, moonlights as an influential indie musician. (Listen on YouTube)

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