Tag Archives: John Darnielle

Isolated Thunderstorms Stuns With Jared Weiss’s Intense Storytelling Craft

31 Jul

Upon listening to Isolated Thunderstorms, one can appreciate the mixture of pop, rock, and heartbreak anthems within this album. Between the lyrical metaphors of the transformation one goes through during a breakup to the unique way of storytelling through Isolated Thunderstorms, listeners are hooked since the first track. Weiss refers to the person of interest, as an isolated thunderstorm that keeps everyone out. While all of the tracks are musically strong and carry heavy lyrical weight, the songs Julia and Reni are key players on the album. Weiss’s voice sounds very similar to that of John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats. The right mixture of emotions, heartbreak, and storytelling balance out the roller coaster of memories. Anyone wanting to listen to a standout artist that not only has a strong musical talent, but has a way with words that connect to audiences and emotions they may have experienced deserves a call-out to nothing short of musical brilliance.

For more listening:

My Autumn Amor Stirs That Love Feeling In Letters To Brie

14 Jul

The vocal talents of Thomas Monroe will mesmerize you within this album Letters To Brie with a combination of anthems, dreams, and heartbreak. When listening to Monroe’s voice, you can draw similarities between John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, Conor Oberst of The Bright Eyes, and subtle hints of Nate Ruess from fun. To hear a woman vocalist sing about heartbreak is one thing and it can be raw, angsty, and fill you up with emotion. On the other hand, a man’s point of view is refreshing and gives a different perspective. The narrative qualities combined with real conversations and a twist of a love song all make everything work on Letters To Brie.The combination of minimal musical instruments with the right balance of rock guitar and percussion work well with the impeccable sound mastering quality to make it more than just a broken heart waiting to be mended.


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Fall 2012 Music Preview

29 Sep


Fall is not only Oscar season. Some of the best albums are also released. This Fall is no different. There are several promising albums coming out. I often find it is difficult to keep track of all the albums that are being released. Often, an album is released, and you don’t find out about it until it is already old news. And, come on, I know everyone likes being a Hipster and knowing about things “before they are cool.” So, consider this your Hipster Fall 2012 primer. Here are some albums you should be looking forward to.

Just to be clear, Mumford and Sons released their second LP Babel earlier this week. Ben Folds Five released their comeback album the week before, and the Killers released Battle Born on 9/18 as well. These albums are not on the list because they have already been released. Here are some more that have been recently released for your consumption

– Green Day album Uno (bet you can guess what the follow-up is going to be called)

– Bob Dylan’s Temptest (soon enough, his albums will be composed of one 60-minute poetic narrative)

– The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter

– Pete Seeger: Peter Remembers Woody AND A More Perfect Union

The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth – October 2

What is it?: The Mountain Goats’ ambitious 14th album

Why should I be excited?: Because lead-goat Darnielle is a lyrical master and the Goats’ music has just become more diverse and creative. This supreme cult-band is among my favorite acts, and the album will most likely be crafty, original, and depressing (like all good Mountain Goats albums).

Muse – The 2nd Law – October 2

What is it?: Muse’s 6th studio album featuring “Survival” which was the official song of the London Olympics this year

Why should I be excited?: Muse has been working on this article since last September. This is their first release since 2009, and that album featured the incredibly popular “Uprising.” The band is comfortably in the zone of solid releases. The album combines their blend of symphonic rock with dubstep and synth pop. Will it overtake the popularity of their last release. I don’t know. Check it out to see.

John Cale – Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood – October 2

What is it?: John Cale, of Velvet Underground fame, is releasing his first studio album in seven years.

Why should I be excited?:  John Cale is a talented musician, and he is combining his alt/rock electronic talents with a staff of uber-talented musicians – Danger Mouse, Mike Jerome, Dustin Boyer. This is one of the more interesting releases on the list, and I am anticipating some handy work by these guys

Other Releases to be Excited About:


  • Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes
  • The Wallflowers: Glad All Over
  • Chris Rene: I’m Right Here


  • Freelance Whales: Diluvia


  • Jason Lytle: Dept. of Disappearance


  • Andrew Bird: Hands of Glory


  • One Republic: Native


The Mountain Goats Talk Growing Up in “Cry for Judas”

29 Aug

Transcendental Youth

John Darnielle and his band of Mountain Goats will release their 14th studio album, Transcendental Youth, on October 2. I know I mentioned this before on the Music Court, but I feel like I have a duty to mention it again. The album is sure to be awesome – like all of Darnielle releases – and it would surely be a shame if you missed out.

As a commenter on Darnielle’s tunes said recently, “nobody is better than Darnielle at writing such happy songs about utter hopelessness.” I agree and disagree. You see, this comment is true a lot of the time. Heck, if there is any hope in “No Children,” well, I haven’t found it yet. Still looking, though! But in Transcendental Youth, at least in the first song released from the album, there is a subtle hint of growth under the lyric. Darnielle paints a messy portrait of an adolescent teen struggling with growing up in the society he is surrounded by, a candid autobiographical depiction of Darnielle. And, to assist in my description of the song, here is a segment from The Mountain Goats’ website about the song – in Darnielle’s words.

“Cry for Judas,” it is about survival but that’s kind of an oversimplification, it’s also about building a vehicle from the defeated pieces of the thing you survived and piloting that vehicle through the cosmos, it’s kind of complicated but people who know what I’m talking about will kind of intuitively get the idea and the rest of you will I hope be able to get a sense of it through the song.

When people talk about surviving adolescence, they are not joking. There is innate passion, awkwardness, struggle, all inherent in the process of growing. And in the end you are you, and you survived as you. Time to pilot the vehicle. The lyric repeats the couplet (Long black night, morning frost, I’m still here, but all is lost). The important part is our protagonist is still there. It was a long black night, but despite the feeling that all is lost I can’t help but thinking that the character is just growing up. Look at the album title.

The Mountain Goats are also growing, somehow still maturing and falling into new sounds. The horns give the acoustic guitar a full sound, and then there is the bass guitar which provides an almost funky rhythm. The song itself is excellent. But, I mean, I wasn’t expecting any different.

Top 10 Songs of 2011 – #8: “High Hawk Season” by The Mountain Goats

22 Dec

John Darnielle wrote the most prescient and topical song of the year. He totally predicted Occupy Wall Street. Those are two weighty comments. Don’t worry, I’ll explain this odd coincidence. I will also profile the number eight song on our countdown, “High Hawk Season,” which appears on The Mountain Goats’ like 400th album (13th studio album) All Eternals Deck which was released in late March.

I do seem to favor the work of John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats on this blog. I will not deny my bias. But can you blame me? Darnielle seems to release an album every month and every single album demonstrates musical maturity, lyrical precision, passion, and pure awesomeness. “High Hawk Season,” my favorite song on the new album, exemplifies all of these outlined attributes. Darnielle, as I’ve said many times before, is one of the greatest artists in the last 20 years. And while crowning a singer/songwriter with a cult-like following may seem baseless, well, why don’t you listen to his music.

These are what Mountain Goats look like when domesticated.

The Mountain Goats are John Darnielle, Peter Hughes (bass), and Jon Wurster (drums). Throughout the 90s, Darnielle released a lot of low-fi recordings and his music grew from there. Darnielle is consummate lyricist and this is his most noticeable strength. He also plays a mean acoustic guitar and has a distinctive nasally croon.

All Eternals Deck, was the Mountain Goats’ follow-up to one of their best albums (in my opinion) The Life of the World to Come, which featured twelve tracks, each one inspired by (and titled after) a single verse of the Christian bible. All Eternals Deck is a solid effort as a whole. It’s title refers to a set of fictional tarot cards (keep this in mind). But “High Hawk Season” elevates beyond its supporting tracks.

Now I say this prediction stuff in jest…mostly. The coincidence is pretty odd and humorous. “High Hawk Season,” as you will see by the lyrics, is a plea for a youth uprising. Darnielle beckons his listener to “rise if your sleeping” and “stay awake” because the “heat’s about to break.” As you know, the Occupy Wall Street movement didn’t begin until September. The album with the title referring to tarot cards was released in March. Okay, you say, so what. He didn’t mention New York, right? Actually, he did. This is the last verse of the song (in case you missed it):

Who will rise and who will sing?
Who’s going to stand his ground and who’s going to blink?
Surge forward from Van Cortlandt Park like frightened sheep
Spirit throngs that hoist us high, three thousand warriors deep
Spray our dreams on any surface where the paint will stick
Try to time the rhythm, listen for the click

Van Cortlandt Park is a park in the Bronx. He was off by 16 miles. That’s not too shabby. Take a look at that powerful lyric as well. Darnielle talks of a “throng” of “warriors” standing their ground and “spray(ing)” dreams on surfaces that will stick. Now if I was going to over-analyze this like a good English major, I would say that the spraying of the dreams and paint represents the signs and words and ideas (because a painting truly is at first an idea like all things), and the sticky surface would be the media that lapped up the coverage like a thirsty dog. The lyric is humorously on target. And, yes, you can say he was inspired by the Middle Eastern civilian rebellions, but, come on, he mentions New York.

The song itself is also memorable. It features barbershop quartet/monk-like background singers that provide this religiously lachrymose backdrop. Darnielle sings the verse in a very observational tone, as if he is simply explaining what is going on. The call-and-response chorus is a treat. I feel as if I can imagine Darnielle singing this in some tenebrous dystopia where, I don’t know, “the heat’s about it break.” The song remains entertaining but somewhat complacent until after the two minute mark where a light shines on Darnielle and he belts out the chorus like a call to action.

“Rise if your sleeping, stay awake. We are young supernovas and the heat’s about to break.”

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