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Zopilote Machine

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iTunes Review

This 1994 full-length album from the Mountain Goats, essentially songwriter John Darnielle and whomever he invites along, represents a great introduction to his “early” work. His recording techniques have evolved from the primitive acoustic-guitar to boombox simplicity of this early work to the professional recording studios and backing bands that he has since settled on, but his songwriting has remained quirky, conceptual and unpredictable. Zopilote Machine contains quite a few oddly titled tunes that are lyrically more straightforward than their titles imply. “Sinaloan Milk Snake Song” includes some nice harmonizing, but mostly it’s Darnielle ranting and raving with excess energy that comes out as furious guitar strumming and wordy expositions. “Alpha Incipiens” boils down to the pure sentiment of “The only thing I know is that I love you and I’m holding on.” Quetzalcoatl is Born” begins, “I meant to leave the house this morning.” Darnielle beautifully mixes the humorous, tragic, and mundane into an unpredictable world that’s every bit as poignant as it is strange.

Customer Reviews

John Darnielle's First Full Length CD

After his first 3 cassette only albums, The Mountain Goat's released Zopilote Machine, one of John Darnielle's better lo-fi albums. There are some slow moments, but sone songs are just too brilliant for words: Alpha Sun Hat, Standard Bitter Love Songs, and Orange Ball of Love/Hate. And oh yeah, then there is the greatest song of all time, Going to Georgia. Going to Gerogia alone is worth the price of this album. The lyrics are so good, as on any Mountain Goats song, but it has my all time favorite line: "The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it's you, and that you're standing in the doorway." Just buy this album.

lo-fi, bitter, brilliant

Possibly an acquired taste, with its unpolished recording style, this is an album that really grows on you. The lyrics are brilliant.

The Mountain Goats begin strong

John Darnielle's first full length release as the ineffable Mountain Goats is a sprawling (although short) 19 song foray into independent lo-fi simplicity. As such, it may be predicted to be awfully hit-or-miss, however, I found it to be quite a solid album, and one that would rank higher among my favorite Mountain Goats albums, if they weren't all so great. Far from a skippable early debut experiment, I call it essential for all fans of Darnielle's work, and an interesting beginning of one of the greatest bands (artists) of our time (in my opinion.)

Now, into the fire you go!


Formed: 1991 in Claremont, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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