13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

A captivating songwriter who has long used his imagination to shed light on the inner lives of misfits, from aging married folks to paranoid drug addicts, John Darnielle (the one constant member of this rotating ensemble) turns the microscope on himself for this unflinching look at his adolescence. Darnielle dedicates the album to his stepfather, an abusive drunk who made things difficult for his family. “Dance Music” spells out the angry tirades, glasses shattering, and a child hiding, with only music to block out the horror. “This Year” is Darnielle’s call to self-reliance (best line: “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me”). Several other tunes replay difficult scenes, while others handle Darnielle’s other obsessions including reggae performer Dennis Brown’s weakness for cocaine. Many Mountain Goats albums were recorded under lo-fi conditions (basically, a Panasonic boombox). However, like many more recent MG collections, The Sunset Tree was recorded professionally and carefully uses the added fidelity to create a strong, never overpowering mood, with sawing strings accompanying Darnielle’s swiftly strummed acoustic guitar.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A captivating songwriter who has long used his imagination to shed light on the inner lives of misfits, from aging married folks to paranoid drug addicts, John Darnielle (the one constant member of this rotating ensemble) turns the microscope on himself for this unflinching look at his adolescence. Darnielle dedicates the album to his stepfather, an abusive drunk who made things difficult for his family. “Dance Music” spells out the angry tirades, glasses shattering, and a child hiding, with only music to block out the horror. “This Year” is Darnielle’s call to self-reliance (best line: “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me”). Several other tunes replay difficult scenes, while others handle Darnielle’s other obsessions including reggae performer Dennis Brown’s weakness for cocaine. Many Mountain Goats albums were recorded under lo-fi conditions (basically, a Panasonic boombox). However, like many more recent MG collections, The Sunset Tree was recorded professionally and carefully uses the added fidelity to create a strong, never overpowering mood, with sawing strings accompanying Darnielle’s swiftly strummed acoustic guitar.

TITLE TIME
2:15
2:44
3:52
2:10
1:57
3:18
3:27
3:25
3:22
2:00
3:57
2:48
4:19

About The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats are, for all practical purposes, the endlessly clever and prolific John Darnielle and whatever musicians he surrounds himself with, which means that while the soundscape may change from project to project, the overall tone and feel of Darnielle's work remains remarkably consistent. At his best, he writes finely observed, slightly surreal, impressionistic vignettes that manage to mix life as we live it with life as we wish we could live it, and as such he has more in common with a short story writer than he does with the typical singer/songwriter.

Taking the name from the Screamin' Jay Hawkins song "Big Yellow Coat," Darnielle first donned the Mountain Goats moniker in 1991 while working as a nurse in a California state hospital, and began releasing cassette-only albums for the Shrimper label. Despite attracting a devoted underground following (or, possibly, because of it), the Mountain Goats continued to release songs in cassette form-only for many years, virtually using tape hiss as an additional instrument. Besides innumerable compilation tracks, the Mountain Goats have also released many 7" singles for over a dozen labels. Their full-length albums include Nine Black Poppies and Zopilote Machine (both released in 1995), Sweden (1996), Full Force Galesburg (1997), and Nothing for Juice (1997). Protein Source of the Future...NOW! and Bitter Melon Farm (both 1999 releases) collected many early tape tracks and singles.

Darnielle began the new millennium with The Coroner's Gambit for Absolutely Kosher before signing to 4AD for the release of the surprisingly polished Tallahassee in 2002. We Shall All Be Healed followed in 2004, and one year later, Darnielle was back with The Sunset Tree. Remaining as prolific as ever, Darnielle turned away from the intensity of The Sunset Tree for a calmer, more reflective set of songs on 2006's Get Lonely. The accessible and assured Heretic Pride appeared in 2008. Next up was the Bible verse-inspired The Life of the World to Come, the group's sixth album for 4AD, in 2010. Switching to Merge Records in 2011, Darnielle released All Eternals Deck, which was recorded in four different studios in Brooklyn, Boston, North Carolina, and Florida with four different producers -- John Congleton, Scott Solter, Brandon Eggleston, and Morbid Angel guitarist and Hate Eternal frontman Erik Rutan -- helming various tracks. That year the band was also handpicked by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he was curating in Minehead, England, but they were ultimately unable to appear due to scheduling issues.

In 2012, a reissue collecting long out-of-print Mountain Goats cassettes surfaced on Shrimper. The collection gathered 1992's The Hound Chronicles and 1993's Hot Garden Stomp. Following the release of 2012's dark Transcendental Youth, Darnielle shifted his focus to raising his young family and publishing his debut novel, Wolf in White Van. His subsequent return to recording came in the form of 2015's Beat the Champ, a collection of songs about professional wrestling. In 2017, Darnielle kept himself busy with the release of recording and publishing projects: a concept album from the Mountain Goats titled Goths, and a novel, Universal Harvester. ~ Jason Nickey & Steve Leggett

  • ORIGIN
    Claremont, CA
  • FORMED
    1991

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