Tag Archives: The Mountain Goats

Top 20 of 2012

Punch Brothers - Who's Feeling Young Now?

1. Punch Brothers – Who’s Feeling Young Now?
2. Japandroids – Celebration Rock 
3. Tropical Punk – Ends of the World 
4. John K. Samson – Provincial 
5. Flume – Flume
6. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE 
7. Tame Impala – Lonerism 
8. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
9. Balmorhea – Stranger
10. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth
11. Titus Andronicus – Local Business
12. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
13. The Men – Open Your Heart
14. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
15. Bob Dylan – Tempest
16. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
17. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
18. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
19. St. Lucia – St. Lucia EP
20. Yeasayer – Fragrant World

Honorable Mentions: People Get Ready, Grizzly Bear, Lucero, Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Tallest Man on Earth


Top 20 of 2012: 10. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

10. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

The Mountain Goats - Transcendental YouthThe 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.

The Mountain Goats at Bowery Ballroom

The Mountain Goats at the Bowery Ballroom - October 15, 2012 -- Photo by Peter CauvelThe Mountain Goats just finished a sold-out four-night run in New York City, two shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg and two at Bowery Ballroom.

On the third night, the first at Bowery Ballroom, Matthew E. White opened, as he will for this entire tour. White, who arranged the horns on the new Mountain Goats album, Transcendental Youth, was a fantastic opener. He and his collective of eight fellow Richmond, Va. musicians are something of an indie reincarnation of The Band. The Dixieland jazz of “One of These Days” is the easiest to slap on comparisons, but most of his music meanders between innovative and classic.

Matthew E. White at the Bowery Ballroom - October 15, 2012 -- Photo by Peter CauvelThe warm horn swells and bar-room piano often lead to the unexpected. The jangly keys of “Big Love” gave way to congas and heavy bass. After a percussion-heavy breakdown, White’s guitar, which sometimes takes a backseat to the other instruments, led a huge flairup. “Big Love” and “Brazos,” the closer of the set, were wild jams. White took a lot of risks on his debut record, Big Inner, and he’s continuing to push it farther on stage. He was the perfect opener, but White and his band are too talented to stay in the support slot for long.

When the Mountain Goats came onstage and began playing “Love Love Love,” the crowd softly echoed every word. The quiet opener was followed by the new upbeat “Harlem Roulette,” during which John Darnielle‘s guitar began cutting out. Once the problem was fixed, he exchanged a quick glance and shoulder shrug with bassist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster before jumping in again.

After “Heretic Pride” and “The First Few Desperate Hours” (which Darnielle claims was the closest he ever came to giving the fictional characters in his divorce fable Tallahassee a nice day), they took a request from the crowd and played “San Bernadino.” Darnielle ditched his guitar and sang over the bubbling bass line and drum brushes, before adding a few twinkling piano notes.

The Mountain Goats at the Bowery Ballroom - October 15, 2012 -- Photo by Peter CauvelThey played two more new songs, “Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1” and “Until I Am Whole,” before Wurster left the stage. Darnielle and Hughes played “Dance Music,” in which the crowd let out a resounding cry of “I don’t wanna die alone!,” before Hughes left as well.

Darnielle played a handful of solo acoustic songs, including a cover of Wye Oak’s “Civilian.” He also did a rare rendition of “Sax Rohmer #1,” which he warned could easily turn into a disaster. He called it a “long-overdue request” for a fan in the audience who had donated money to hear it played at a benefit concert in North Carolina, but whose car broke down on the way. Darnielle claimed the lack of a clear narrative made the song easy to forget but he made it through with a little help from the audience.

Wurster came back to play “Ezekial 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace,” before Hughes rejoined for “The Diaz Brothers.” The horn section from White’s band, dubbed by Darnielle “The Transcendental Trio,” came out to play three songs from the new album, “In Memory of Satan,” “White Cedar” and “Cry for Judas.” Hughes played a fretless bass which added a smooth, jazzy tone to the songs. They finished the set with “Up the Wolves” and “No Children.”

The band was rejoined by the horn players for “Transcendental Youth” and “This Year” in the first encore. The latter was almost overwhelmingly joyful, especially with the added horn arrangement. When called back for a second encore, they covered Nothing Painted Blue’s “Houseguest,” written by Darnielle’s friend and collaborator in the Extra Lens — Franklin Bruno.

But they saved the best for last. The final song of the evening was “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton.” The crowd was fired up and let loose cries of “Hail Satan!” in step with Darnielle. The music was great, but when the audience is so involved, it becomes unforgettable.

The Mountain Goats at the Bowery Ballroom - October 15, 2012 -- Photo by Peter Cauvel

The Mountain Goats – “Night Light” (Demo)

The Mountain Goats - Transcendental YouthThe Mountain Goats‘ fourteenth album, Transcendental Youth, is out today. To celebrate its release, Merge released an early demo of “Night Light,” from the new album.

The demo is just frontman John Darnielle on guitar and vocals, with a bit of added piano, but the most stripped-down Mountain Goats tracks always capture the brilliance of his writing.

Check out the demo for “Night Light” below, which is also available for free download from Merge’s SoundCloudTranscendental Youth is out today.


The Mountain Goats – “Little Boxes” (Weeds theme — Malvina Reynolds cover)

The Mountain GoatsPeople aren’t still watching Weeds, are they? I definitely stayed on board longer than I should have, but it seemed to steadily decline when they dropped “Little Boxes” as the theme song (which, not coincidentally was when the Botwins left Agrestic).

Malvina Reynolds’ folk song “Little Boxes,” about the conformism of suburbia, was used for the first season, and various artists covered it for the second and third seasons. It brought some pretty cool renditions by artists like Elvis Costello, Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins and Regina Spektor.

I haven’t been watching season eight, but apparently, “Little Boxes” is back, and the Mountain Goats performed it with help from Midtown Dickens.

Check out the cover below, and if you’ve been watching this season of Weeds, let us know if it’s worth it.

The Mountain Goats – “Cry for Judas”

The Mountain Goats - Transcendental YouthThe Mountain Goats are releasing their fourteenth album, Transcendental Youth, this fall. Originally a solo outlet for John Darnielle, tMG now features bassist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Bob Mould).

Transcendental Youth expands that lineup a bit further, at least temporarily. Darnielle asked multi-instrumentalist Owen Pallett (who, besides his excellent solo work under his own name and Final Fantasy, has worked with Arcade Fire, Beirut and Fucked Up) to arrange strings and Matthew E. White to do horn arrangements.

White’s horns really open up the album’s first single, “Cry for Judas.” The Mountain Goats have come a long way from Darnielle’s Panasonic RX-FT500 boombox recordings, but they’re still every bit as good.

Transcendental Youth comes out October 2 via Merge. The first 1,000 pre-orders will include a bonus 7″, which features two exclusive tracks: “Steal Smoked Fish” and “In the Shadow of the Western Hills.”

Kind of Bleu’s Top 20 of 2011

Kind of Bleu’s top albums of 2011, with links to each review in the countdown.

Honorable Mentions:
Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan & Chris Thile – The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
I’m From Barcelona – Forever Today
Panda Bear – Tomboy
My Morning Jacket – Circuital

20. Chris Thile & Michael Daves – Sleep With One Eye Open 

19. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

18. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What

17. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

16. Tom Waits – Bad as Me

15. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart

14. James Blake – James Blake

13. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

12. Wilco – The Whole Love

11. Feist – Metals

10. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It’s a Corporate World

8. Middle Brother – Middle Brother

7. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

6. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

5. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

4. The Antlers – Burst Apart

3. Destroyer – Kaputt

2. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver