My first introduction to The Mountain Goats was about 4 years ago after constantly seeing their name show up through my subscription to Merge Records (their current record label) almost every month. I gave in, and I was and have been glad that I did.
Since 1991 John Darnielle has basically and for all intents and purposes been: The Mountain Goats. The early years in ’91 till about ’95 saw John as The Mountain Goats, but soon he began collaborating with other artists, which is a list that has many names on it, however eventually a band was formed under the guidance of John the primary songwriter. The current members are: Peter Hughes (bass), Jon Wuster (drums), and Matt Douglas (multi-instrumentalist). Goths their sixteenth and current release is as true to their sound as 1994’s Zopilote Machine.
Sure not everything is the same. Lyrically John Darnielle is 20 years older, but the sound remains true to The Mountain Goats, a band who was indie before it was really a thing. The obvious difference is the change from those early low-fi recordings to the freshly dusted off studio tracks. All done purposely and methodically, and only as recent as 2002 has that approach to a more traditional way of recording have they explored. On this new album they have a song called “The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement” in which John repeats, “I’m hardcore, I’m not that hardcore” overlaying a smooth jazz-esque rhythm. The contradiction I found it to bring a smile to my face. I like an album that does that to me. Makes me stop a second, look out my window, and smile while also tipping my cap to them as if to say, “Good job sir.” In today’s world, everything needs to be done fast and in only 140 characters society it is nice to take a step back and just listen.
The Mountain Goats have been doing what The Mountain Goats want to do for nearly twenty years and still counting. On this upcoming Saturday afternoon July the 1st they will be Jason Isbell’s special guest for his show at PNC Pavilion. Hopefully you go to this show as it will be one to not miss, but if you do miss it pick up Goths. Spend the 45 minutes with it, or go through the 15 other albums and begin the journey through a sound that in mid-nineties was unique and refreshing. For this lowly writer, my only wish was that I had heard them when I was 14. Goths the new album by The Mountain Goats give it a listen, or seven like I have.