This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"He'll chew on sourgrass while I wolf down Dexadrine" - The Mountain Goats

So I'm back from vacation. I had an awesome time in Atlanta, despite contracting the flu and/or strep throat. I got to do a lot of amazing things ("HEAVY METAL STRIP CLUB!"), including finally being able to see the Mountain Goats live.

Let me back up a little. Not to sound like a complete dickfart music snob, but I had given up on the idea of people introducing me to bands that I would fall in love with. Like, maybe. Mixtape, perhaps. But I assumed that any band I would fall ass-over-tits for I would find on my own. Then, towards the end of my senior year of college, I met a hellacious redhead named Mary Claire who would bother me all hours of the day and night, drinking all my wine, smelling up my porch with her cigarettes, preventing me from doing my homework, and going on long diatribes about Wayne's World. Needless to say, I took an immediate liking to her.

She also is still the only person I've ever met (aside from my ex-wife Sara Jean) that made me a mix CD that I was still listening to months after it was given to me. The first one she ever made me had a weird, lo-fi acoustic song called "Fall Of the Star High School Running Back" as the second track. It was strangely hypnotic, and the morning after she gave me the CD, I found myself sitting in my car before my International Economics class, hitting the "back" button every time the song ended. There was something completely mesmerizing about John Darnielle's reedy voice and uncomplicated strumming.

So, me being me, I wanted to hear more of what this guy did. Long story short, the Mountain Goats discography is anything but small. They have no fewer than 14 full-lengths, all released since 1995, as well as innumerable EPs, singles, cassette-only releases, and compilation contributions. It takes a while to work through, but it's by and large well worth the effort. Many of their early songs were recorded on a department store boombox, so the tracks have a fair amount of tape hiss and fuzz, but if anything, it sounds warm and comfortable, like cuddling on the couch.

Eventually, bass and piano began to work their way in, and the production quality improved noticeably when they signed to large European label 4AD. There's also been a marked shift towards more anthemic songwriting as opposed to the bedroom intimacy of their earlier recordings. And as we all know, indie fans are fickle and fearful of change, so there's been a lot of griping, but if you care about the opinions of the Pitchfork crowd, you probably don't read this thing, anyway.

If you can, go see the group live, especially if it's a night that Darnielle is going to be playing without a stool. He has this weird, locked-knees dance he does during the instrumental breakdowns, and his Mitch Hedburgesque delivery of banter was ridiculously charming. He's also a pretty fierce player live, wringing as much emotion out of his guitar as his voice. Andrea managed to snag tickets to their sold-out show at the stupidly small Earl, and watching him work the crowd was awe-inspiring in and of itself, despite the idiots who wouldn't cut out their chattering during the ballads. Still, "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton, Ohio" and "This Year" turned into rousing singalongs that had every feel-good drunk in the place warbling along and stomping their feet. They closed their encore with "No Children," which they never play live, and which I had been yelling for after every previous song. "No Children" is a special song to me, as Mary Claire and I have two Our Songs (*barf*) by the Mountain Goats, and that's one of them (no, I'm not posting the other).

Basically, for fans of Wes Anderson movies.


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