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Thread for talking about That Band
  • So we started this discussion about the Mountain Goats over on facebook, and I thought we might as well move it here. I just visited the allmusic guide page for them to check on some things and was surprised to see that many, if not most, of the album ratings have been changed since the good old days. Used to be, allmusic didn’t even know what constituted a new Mountain Goats album. They’d just slap three stars on it and might include a cover image if you were lucky. Now, there’s no fewer than three different 4.5 star reviews!

    Crazy. Here’s the link: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-mountain-goats-mn0000480830

    Feel free to chat about the new record and stuff, too.

  • I find it more and more difficult to get excited about upcoming releases. Though, I do find myself liking what’s going on in all the recent albums, but it doesn’t stick with me as much. The urgency is gone.

    What I’ve heard of the new one, I’ve absolutely hated.

  • I’m not usually that excited for upcoming releases, but I’m also … not that into music lately. I just bought an ipod shuffle to take on walks and thinking about choosing music to put on it is fucking exhausting (it’s coming in the mail, so I don’t have to worry about it yet).

    Part of my exhaustion is probably that I listen to mostly the same stuff I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager, and then tried to get out of it, but now don’t really know what I like. I don’t have the same time to be just-me-and-the-music cause the internet is always at my fingertips (which is one of the reasons why I got a shuffle vs using my phone). Prevents me from developing a PERSONAL CONNCETION with different artists.

    That said, I am going to a TMG show in October! I am surprised to see how many people I know who are also going.

  • my relationship with music has also changed. I feel like I spend a lot less time alone with music and that it’s become a lot more social. I hear and react to things differently when I’m alone and although I live alone I feel like I spend less time with myself and whatever media I’m exploring than when I had roommates. IT IS VERY ODD.

    re: tmg I stopped buying new albums after get lonely :/ and I don’t listen to the old stuff much anymore either. Still got mad love for what those songs meant to me in my late adolescence.

  • I still listen to the old stuff occasionally, and it’s always a poignant experience. Those albums up through All Hail West Texas are way down deep in me.

    I was briefly infatuated with The Sunset Tree, and I still think it’s a pretty terrific album, but other than that, I just haven’t been into the new sound.

    2.5 stars for Full Force Galesburg is BOGUS.

  • I went through this period of a couple years where I couldn’t listen to music very much. So I fell off on listening to a lot of things. I couldn’t get into any of the Mountain Goats records—at all.

    But this one, I like this one a lot. Liked it pretty immediately. This is the most comfortable they’ve sounded as a whole band, to my ears. Full approval. I’m super excited to see them in Iowa in a handful of weeks.

    2.5 stars for FFG is insane. WTF.

  • I lost interest when they made that record in a studio — haven’t listened to them for about 6 years< I suppose, but I could say the same of nearly everything I was into back then.

  • new record is really awesome, which was nice because the last one was the first i was really cool on.

  • I’m still a pretty stalwart tMG fan, but I haven’t been as on top of his stuff as I used to be. I waited a while to get Heretic Pride and All Eternals Deck (both of which I am really fond of now…if only for about half of their songs).

    I’ve noticed the timbre of the audience has changed since I first saw him play alone at the Echo Lounge right around when Tallahassee came out. Dudes in baseball hats who liked songs about baseball and boiled peanuts and hailing Satan. An audience who was eager to heckle, to engage.

    At this last show, tMO and I agreed something had changed. The audience has gotten younger. Cardigan-ed youth who maybe latched on to The Sunset Tree or Get Lonely. Those are Their Albums. It was interesting feeling like an OG in a crowd, not because I’m older or have been listening to them longer, because I kind of despise the politics of age—I am not better because I was born years before another person. But because we want different things from the Mountain Goats. I love the guy, I love his songs. I love the way he handles the crowd and I love his approach to writing and making music. I feel a kinship with him as an artist. Through the wide eyed chorus of “we love you”s and the awed way these kids received the music, I felt like I was seeing something from my past—from a time when I saw idols as untouchable. I feel like I want the opposite of that from tMG and that the direction of Transcendental Youth seems to indicate that they’re running toward it, arms flailing open.

    I don’t remember what song it was, but he played a new one that night that was like “I hope everyone who harmed you gets their comeuppance” or something along those lines, and the lyrics were vague enough for tMO to call it “campy,” and I agreed. Like, if John wants to write songs for teenagers, that’s fine, but I’m not a teenager any more. And my memories of the waning days of being a teenager and being a twenty-something and still feeling like a teenager are largely wrapped with Mountain Goats songs, so the distancing now feels all the more acute.

    But I do dig the horns on the new record. They sound real nice.

  • ”I hope everyone who harmed you gets their comeuppance”

    If I had heard this sentence on a different day, from a different speaker, in a totally different context, I still would’ve immediately thought it sounded like a tMG lyric.

  • Yeah, that’s not a direct quote by any stretch, but more a general mise en scène of the thing.


  • Maaik pretty much nailed it for me in a much better way than I ever could have put it. I liked Sunset Tree a lot for the first year or so after it came out, but man, I’d be okay with never hearing This Year or Dance Music ever again, and that makes me sad. All the albums since then have just sounded to me like he’s trying to make a Weakerthans album, but there’s already a dude who’s done that pretty well, so I have no use for those. I downloaded the new one the other day and there were songs that were decentish, but I really didn’t care about any of the lyrics, or have any strong feelings about the horns, and generally felt completely indifferent about the whole thing.

  • I went through this period of a couple years where I couldn’t listen to music very much. So I fell off on listening to a lot of things. I couldn’t get into any of the Mountain Goats records—at all.

    Yeah, I similarly went through a sorta depression-based general break from seeking out music as obsessively as I’d previously done. And then a lot of what Maaik was saying also factored in, too.

    And now I’m at the point where I find a lot of the newer stuff kind of unpleasantly soft. Even the slower, quieter older songs had more of a bitterness, or anger, or balls-out-joyfulness to them that I think kept them from feeling as insubstantial as I find the newer ones. I periodically try out the newer albums, and just end up going “this is pretty okay I suppose” for all of them, whereas the first time I heard, say, Jaipur, I was like “HOLY FUCK WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS”

  • I am super excited to hear the new one

  • i bought all eternals deck basically just because i was hoping to get one of the limited demo cassettes. listened once or twice… it’s not BAD, but, yeah. the new stuff doesn’t do it for me, and the old stuff is still great, but not listened to nearly as much.

  • I still put on The Coroner’s Gambit every so often and feel like I am about to burst into tears at every second song. The new stuff is very, very good—JD frequently talks about how he’s refining his craft as he goes on, and he isn’t wrong—but it is different, and becoming more so with each album. Much more reflective, less manic. Still pisses over most of what comes out, because most music is rubbish.

  • Dennis, I’d assume.

  • Oh, duh. That makes sense.

  • The thing about following a band for many years is that you can grow apart. Like Maaik said, really. I want different things now than I did then. He wants to make different things now than he did then. There’s some point of intersection, because the old songs still exist and the previous incarnation of AK is still part of me. So it goes.

  • So many people saying my feelings in this thread.

  • I’m still pretty into their music. I often put it all on shuffle and have it run for a couple of hours, enjoying what comes up…I think, as a result, I finally get what he was trying to do with Get Lonely (which I hated when it came out) and I like the songs on that album, but I’m not sure I’d ever put it on just to listen to. I’ve pre-ordered the new one, and I’m not listening to it before I get it, mainly because I just don’t have time. Like a lot of you have already said - my relationship with music has changed a lot in the last 20 years, mainly with lack of time being an issue.

  • Maaik that was a great post. You encapsulated my feelings really well.

  • I still put on The Coroner’s Gambit every so often and feel like I am about to burst into tears at every second song.

    Funny you say “every second song,” since it is actually the second song that makes me burst into tears every time I hear it. I remember listening to that record on one of my first trips to see Finn in the neonatal intensive care unit. When Elijah came on, with all its imagery of birth and death and the future and fear, and then he whimpers the line “Feel the future kicking in your womb” in the last stanza — fuck, dudes, I was hysterical.

    One of only 3 or 4 songs in existence that will absolutely choke me up every single time I hear it til the day I die, probably.

  • Felt compelled to put on WSABH tonight. That one is still really good.

  • i’ve always liked WSABH, but it seems to have just enough weak spots to get forgotten most of the time. but palmcorder yajna is one of my favorite mountain goats songs ever. it relates to an odd part of my life in such strange detail that even the cross streets are almost accurate.

  • wsabh has always been my favourite. and i think tallahassee is often overlooked, maybe because it marked The End Of An Era, but it was my first gandalfs record and i love it.

  • Tallahassee is overlooked? I’ve always thought of that as one of the most popular.

  • Ever since The Sunset Tree - it has been every other album that I’ve actually been into and liked. I was lukewarm with Get Lonely but SO down for Heretic Pride. Same with Life of the World to Come and then All Eternals Deck. It follows that I will feel equally lukewarm about the newest album.

  • i mean maybe it’s popular in a general sense, but the tMG fans I’ve met tend to either be only into the lo-fi stuff, or only into the stuff from the sunset tree onwards, with Tallahassee sitting awkwardly in between

  • For me, I think Tallahassee and Coroner’s Gambit are about tied for the number one slot, with Sweden and then AHWT just behind.

  • I’ve probably said this over and over again, but Tallahassee is mine and tMO’s album. Like, we totally bonded over that one. A friend of mine lent me All Hail West Texas, which I loved, so we all went to see him in Atlanta next time he came through. Just so happened he was touring behind Tallahassee and still playing all on his lonesome. I remember he played “Int’l Small Arms Traffic Blues” that night and we were hooked. Driving back to Milledgeville at 2 in the morning, we put the album on and when it hit “No Children,” I mean we went nuts. It was the greatest thing we’d ever heard and we were delirious and in love and infused with this sort of fatalism that embraced the absurd and the dark because it was the turn of the century and we were doomed. It was the perfect novel of an album and we memorized every note of it.

    I can understand the big deal people made of him recording in a studio, but I also think those people tend to be overly precious about shit that doesn’t matter.

  • Tallahassee and ‘No Children’ totally and forever. Played it at the first show of theirs that I saw and lost my fucking mind. It was a great point of entry because the lo-fi stuff felt exciting and mysterious and the fancy stuff felt relatively lush and sophisticated. I got lost in the well of school before Heretic Pride and haven’t heard it or anything after it, but I haven’t had the ability, for structural reasons, to listen to music since … 2009, maybe longer. I keep thinking it’s just a matter of getting settled into my new home and then things will change. I used to have something playing almost around the clock. Being deprived of music has been a cause, not an effect, of a certain mild depression.

  • I’ve always been a little surprised by the cult of WSABH. I mean, I guess it’s the darkest, maybe? Is that it?

    But man, I was instantly turned off by it for a variety of reasons (with the exception of two brilliant songs on side b), and ever since I’ve considered it the worst tMG album that was released when I was still a fan.

    Of the “studio” records, I really genuinely appreciated The Sunset Tree, but it didn’t have much longevity. When I listen to the band now, it’s always the scratchy stuff.

  • I hated it when it came out. Like, a lot. But then I saw JD and PPH do those songs live, and it just clicked for me.

  • I wouldn’t say that I’ve liked each tMG album less and less starting with The Sunset Tree, but I’ve certainly become less and less interested. I actually have really liked at least bits and pieces of all of them, but they don’t stick with me at all.

    I sort of wonder though if part of it isn’t just a change in how I listen to music, as well. I don’t actively seek out new music nearly as much as I used to, and I don’t spend as much time with albums, either, so it’s not as likely that I’ll make as deep of a connection with them. It’s not just the Mountain Goats, it’s pretty much all music.

  • i could probably get away with saying we shall all be healed is the angriest album.

  • I’d go with Tallahassee, Full Force Galesburg and All Hail West Texas as my top picks. But also I joined the Mountain Goats train when Tallahassee came out, so there’s that.

  • I like Get Lonely though

    1. we shall all be healed
    2. get lonely
    3. lol probably the new one
    4. sweden
    5. the life of the world to come
    6. the others
  • At an age when most people are past having A Favourite Band - maybe a favourite chair - they’re still my Favourite Band. I still get excited for new releases, rack up air miles going to see them. I can see where and why folks of my vintage would’ve parted ways, but I’ve been riding the tiger too long to get off.

  • ”I hope everyone who harmed you gets their comeuppance”

  • I only got on the bandwagon with The Sunset Tree, when the two singles got airplay, but immediately ordered the bloke to buy up the entire back catalogue. Listened to the CD of Zopilote Machine a lot and I do dig the lo-fi stuff as well as the studio stuff. When I got WSABH, Palmcorder Yajna was instantly familiar, which made me wonder if it’d got some airplay here too, but nothing from Talahassee sounded like I’d heard it before.

    The Sunset Tree is still probably my fave, followed by either All Hail West Texas or Talahassee. Like Heather, I tend to connect with every second album, but I’m hopeful that this pattern might change with this one…always hopeful :-)

  • i could probably get away with saying we shall all be healed is the angriest album.

    i’ve always thought of Coroners Gambit as the angriest, but that might just be because of baboon and family happiness. those are some angry, bitter pieces of music. and a couple of my favorite songs.

  • Nine Black Poppies will always be my favorite for being my first Gandalfs album I bought.

  • I’m kinda surprised about how little is said about Get Lonely. That album is Just. Fucking. Sad. I really have to give it props for being as wretchedly bummed as it is. I can’t listen to it hardly ever. Except “If You See Light.” That song is always awesome. I’d consider that one their darkest album. I mean, the narrator walks into the sea and drowns at the end.

    WSABH is one of my favorites, beginning to end. Whereas I’m always skipping past stuff on the later ones.

    I remember actually sitting down with a bible and my copy of Life of the World to Come and just listening to it and reading the verses and listening and trying to put it all together. I wish that album had come out when I was in high school, I’d have totally been obsessed with it back then. I can only hope there are legions of nerdy high school dudes picking up my slack.

  • Okay, so Transcendental Youth is streaming on RollingStone.com and it’s pretty good

  • I kind of have the same feeling, that it’s not going to stick with me, but I don’t know if it’s fair to say that during my first listen. There are some really great arrangements here. See “Night Light” in particular.