10. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth
The Mountain Goats have been pumping out albums lately. Four albums in the last five years is no small feat, especially when they’re this brilliant. Somehow, even with the birth of his first child, John Darnielle managed to follow up last year’s All Eternals Deck with another new release this year.
And Transcendental Youth isn’t just a by-the-numbers Mountain Goats album — although they could definitely make those forever and I’d be totally happy. Darnielle, bassist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster teamed up with Matthew E. White, whose horn arrangements added another shade of life to the already-great songs.
Even paired with the range of the whole Mountain Goats catalog at their live shows, the Transcendental Youth songs stand out as some of the strongest. “Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1,” written for Amy Winehouse, and “Harlem Roulette” are already fan favorites. The title track gleams like something from the big-band jazz era, and “The Diaz Brothers” might be the catchiest Mountain Goats song ever.
There are always fans wishing Darnielle would go back to his lo-fi tape recorder — which he sort of satisfied with the “Night Light” demo — but the Mountain Goats are in top form on Transcendental Youth.