Tag Archives: Mountain Goats

On Repeat – Mountain Goats and Bleachers

14 Apr

One of the ineluctable truths of having a music blog for so long is that you end up writing multiple posts about the same artist/band. This is not a negative, as this inevitability depicts the blogger’s music taste. So, it should come to no surprise to avid readers of The Music Court that the two artists whose new tracks are euphoniously blaring on repeat from my small, but surprisingly loud, portable speaker are The Mountain Goats and Bleachers. Both of these bands have found laudatory homes on this blog before, and this post will be no exception to that status.

The_Mountain_Goats_-_Goths_-_2017.jpg

The Mountain Goats own Indie Rock. For more than two decades and now 16 studio albums, John Darnielle, the lyrical demigod and two-time author, and his band continue to shape and define quality Indie music, doing it better than any other artist over a longer period of time. It is their success that somewhat shapes their new release, Goths, which will be released on Merge records in May. The album, which features no guitars, pays tribute to bands who did not persist, whose tunes faded away. To promote and preview the album, the band released a track, “Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds,” and since its release in late February, I have listened to it more than a few times.

Above is a recent performance by John Darnielle of the track – with guitar although it is not used on the album. Andrew Eldritch is known by some as the Godfather of Goth; he is frontman for Gothic Rock band The Sisters of Mercy. Eldritch himself is a skilled lyricist, often making lyrical references in his pieces. Darnielle plays upon the melancholic (somewhat gothic) reality of time. The song begins set in a venue where we can suppose Eldritch is playing and the goers experience the “faint gust of hope” as they “meet up against” to “remember how it was” back in the day. The song continues with the motif of Eldritch moving back home without “parade” and “no big changes in the roadways.” It is a Darnielle special, a lugubriously realistic portrayal of how little changes, a keen, singular depiction of time transforming little but memories and age, all set to the tune of Darnielle’s creative rhythm.

Bleachers-gone-now-cover

Jack Antonoff is quickly cementing himself as the pop/rock king of modern music. The multi-instrumentalist creator of Bleachers, Antonoff cut his teeth with Steel Train and Fun. His second LP, Gone Now, will be released on June 2, coming off the heels of his first LP Strange Desire, which featured the huge hits “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster.” His first single off of the new album, “Don’t Take the Money” (which features Lorde) is a quintessential example of Antonoff’s pop talent. The song is an earworm to the extreme, and it should come with a disclaimer: if you press play below you will listen to this song again and again and again.

So, what makes the song and Antonoff so good. It is the perfect, multifaceted blend of 80s music influences and the modern blend of wall-of-sound pop. The song features an immediate hook fit with reverbed synth and drums. It transitions into an echoed pre-chorus that drops to Antonoff’s far-off voice immediately falling into a pounding, blindingly catchy chorus that is almost unfair in its skill. It’s the time of chorus that makes the listener just go “yes, that is exactly what I have been waiting for.” I have blasted this song in my car on multiple occasions because of that chorus. Antonoff is utilizing so many musical influences to transform pop/rock. I, for one, am extremely pleased. The genre is in good hands.

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:

10/2

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

10/9

  • Freelance Whales: Diluvia

10/18

  • Jason Lytle: Dept. of Disappearance

10/30

  • Andrew Bird: Hands of Glory

11/13

  • One Republic: Native

 

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.”

The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck – Track Reviews

1 Apr

An album featuring multi-faceted music that explores the elaborate construction of lyric and sound and makes the complex sound simple, melancholic, and eerily sweet. That is my one sentence review of the new Mountain Goats‘ release All Eternals Deck, which dropped two days ago. When I went to pick up the album at Barnes and Nobles, the salesman asked me how are the Mountain Goats. I have wrote so many gushing reviews of the band on this blog, that I attempted to prevent myself from overwhelming him. I told him, if you like great lyric, passion and folk, then you will enjoy John Darnielle and the Mountain Goats. All Eternals Deck is a classic recent Mountain Goats album mixed with some more complex instrumentation, vocalization and skill. Darnielle’s studio work has morphed to match his elaborate lexicon and syntax. I cannot keep my review to one sentence. So, instead, I am going to profile the music and lyric of some of my favorite songs on the album. Enjoy and go listen to the new album, NOW!

Music: The album opens with “Damn These Vampires,” a track that moves like a typical Mountain Goats release. The song is led by Darnielle’s voice. It features short chords from both the keyboard and acoustic, as well as a defined bass guitar that adds a deep element to the song. The best display of musicality in this song comes during the chorus, where the guitar and keyboard follow Darnielle’s progression with supporting notes. You can feel the band’s presence in this moment.

Lyrics: Darnielle often has small gems in his songs, lines that blend in and taste good. In “Damn These Vampires,” Darnielle sings, “Saphire trans-am, highbeams in vain. Drive wild broncos, down the plain.” His lyric paints pictures, and this advanced imagery proves his literary prowess.

Music: “High Hawk Season” is unconventional for the Mountain Goats. Darnielle adds this gloomy barbershop quartet sound that carries the song beautifully. The call-back with the line “rise if your sleeping stay awake” is spine-tingling. The song is carried by Darnielle’s acoustic and the backing vocals

Lyric: “Spray our dreams on any surface where the paint will stick, Try to time the rhythm, listen for the click.” The lyric is as saturnine as the dark backing vocals. This is where Darnielle seems most comfortable.

Music: “For Charles Bronson” is being quickly touted as the song’s best album. I can understand the praise. While it may not be my favorite – which is reserved for the two above – this song has the classic Mountain Goats charm. It is led by Darnielle’s great voice, a solid chord progression and a solid drum beat. The haunting keyboard is a great addition.

Lyric: I just want to leave you with the last verse/chorus of the song profiling Charles Bronson.

“Let the frame find you when the cameraman’s ready
Work until I drop drift from place to place
Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, scratched into my face
Set your sights on good fortune, concentrate
Pull back the hammer, try to hold the gun straight
Try to hold the gun straight”

New Mountain Goats Drops Tomorrow – Radiohead Selling CD’s – Final Four Update

28 Mar

All Eternal’s Deck Released Tomorrow

The new Mountain Goat’s album drops tomorrow, and I will most certainly be picking it up prior to seeing them this Saturday in Ithaca. Yes, call me a traditionalist, but with artists like The Mountain Goats, I like to listen to the album in full by way of hard copy. It’s just one of my many archaic idiosyncrasies. But, that does not mean reviews have not been written of the album yet (by way of advanced copy or NPR first listen – which was published in late February).

The reviews are positive. Like expected, Darnielle excellent bare singer/songwriter style is bathed lightly with some new studio effects (a trend that has been duplicated on recent albums). The lyrics are hard hitting, though, and while there is no over-arching theme linking songs, each does have a wondrous effect (the Mountain Goat’s effect). I suggest you go out and purchase this album, but if you want some proof, here is two reviews (one written and one YouTubed).

AP Review – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110328/ap_en_mu/us_music_review_the_mountain_goats

YouTube-

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Radiohead Selling Well
King of Limbs was released digitally back in February. The ending track, “Separator” has spawned some thought that the digital album was only part of a larger release that would be sent out with their “magazine” release of the album in May.

Read about that here: https://musiccourt.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/radiohead-ahead-of-the-music-business/

The tangible album is being shipped out today and the band created such a draw with their rapid digital release, that the physical copy was #2 on the Amazon pre-sale list. And so continues the genius of Thom Yorke. Do you want to sell an album? Hire him to do your marketing.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

UPDATE ON 1967 March Madness Tournament

The men’s college basketball March Madness tournament has reached its Final Four and it is jam-packed with Cinderellas. The Music Court’s 1967 Album March Madness tournament – which is looking for votes on the best album released in 1967 – may go pretty chalk. Here is an update and where you can vote. Remember voting ends this Friday

 

The #3 seed: Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience is currently beating the #6 seed: Strange Days by The Doors 5-1.

The #2 seed: The Doors by The Doors is currently avenging its sister’s demise by beating up on the #10 seed: Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane 6-1.

Vote on these two matches here: https://musiccourt.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-elite-1967-album-eight-second-half/

 

The #1 seed: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles is not surprisingly beating the #9 seed John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan 8-2

In the closest match-up (and potential upset) the #4 seed: Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles  is losing to the #5 seed: Disraeli Gears by The Cream 6-4

Vote on these two matches here: https://musiccourt.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/the-elite-1967-album-eight-voting-begins/

 

Let your voices be heard. Don’t let your favorite album lose!

%d bloggers like this: