Posts Tagged ‘John Darnielle’

John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends, hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life.

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The Mountain Goats have digitally released their “Welcome to Passaic 7″ which has “Passaic 1975″ from this year’s In League With Dragons on the A-side and the awesomely-titled “Get High and Listen to The Cure” — an unreleased song from the sessions for 2017’s Goths — on the flip

The Mountain Goats new release “In League With Dragons”. Singer-songwriter, author, and podcaster John Darnielle started The Mountain Goats in the ‘90s with just an acoustic guitar and a boombox, but over the years he expanded the band’s sound and lineup, and now — backed by Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, and Matt Douglas — he’s supporting this new album which is a far cry from his earliest material.

In League With Dragons, a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired record featuring fantasy settings and characters. It’s also an album, according to a conversation on the I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats podcast, about getting older.

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Released April 26th, 2019

The Band:
Jon Wurster – drums & percussion
Peter Hughes – bass
Matt Douglas – woodwinds, guitars, vocals
John Darnielle – guitars, vocals
Thom Gill – guitars
Johnny Spence – organ, Memorymoog, piano, Wurlitzer, synth
Bram Gielen – guitars, piano, synth
Owen Pallett – piano, organ, guitar

Dan Dugmore – pedal steel on “In League with Dragons”

Vocal arrangements on “Younger,” “In League with Dragons,” “Waylon Jennings Live!” and “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” by Robert Bailey, performed by Robert Bailey, Everett Drake, Jason Eskridge, and Michael Mishaw

Strings arranged by Owen Pallett,

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“In League With Dragons” is the upcoming seventeenth studio album by the Mountain Goats, scheduled to be released on April 26th, 2019, on Merge Records. Inspired by tabletop role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the album has been described as a “partial rock opera” with influences from noir literature.

The album was announced on January 28th, 2019. The announcement was accompanied by a live streaming event on Facebook and Twitch.tv, hosted by Wizards of the Coast. The band also released the first single from the album, “Younger”.

In League With Dragons“ surges with wild tales of revenge and redemption, heroes at a crossroads and great figures in decline” over its dozen new, John Darnielle-penned tracks, which “luxuriate in a wide swath of sounds, from shades of the ‘80s Athens scene to swathes of outlaw country and a few motorik meditations,” per a press release. “Younger” is telling evidence of the album’s eclectic genre-hopping, foregrounding the guitars that 2017’s Goths eschewed entirely and ending with a sax solo, of all things. The Mountain Goats frontman opined on the band’s latest in a characteristically sprawling statement, describing its rock opera-meets-high fantasy style as “dragon noir.”

The Mountain Goats are JOHN DARNIELLE, PETER HUGHES, JON WURSTER, and MATT DOUGLAS. They have been making music Together as a quartet for several years. Three of them live in North Carolina and one has moved to Rochester. Their songs often seek out dark lairs within which terrible monsters dwell, But thier mission to retrieve treasure from the dark lair and persuade the monsters inside to seek out the path to redemption. As Axl Rose once memorably asked in the son “Terrible Monster”: “Whats so terrible about monsters anyway” This is the question the Mountain Goats have been asking and pursuing since 1991.

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The Mountain Goats began life in a Norwalk employee-housing studio apartment that had awesome deco tiling on the bathroom floor but little more to recommend the place as a living space. Still, you take what you can get, and it was ridiculously cheap. In this room, equipped with a dual-cassette recorder, John D. started setting some of his poetry to music, using a guitar he’d gotten for a few bucks at a nearby strip mall music store. His idea at the time was that eventually his day job would be “poet.” Young men have all kinds of crazy ideas about what they’re going to end up doing for a living.

After a while the songs became more like songs than poems set to music, and John started playing them for his friend Rachel, who as it turned out, played bass. John and Rachel toured the eastern U.S. & Europe once, the midwest twice (if “Chicago, Columbus and Madison” count as “the midwest”), and played San Francisco a few times, and they recorded two albums and a couple of EPs. Then John graduated from college and moved to Chicago, and the Mountain Goats became Mainly Just John, except for a couple of European tours where John’s friend Peter Hughes played bass. In 2001, though, 4AD called up and asked if the Mountain Goats wouldn’t like to make records with them. John called Peter. They hit the studio.

As a duo, the two toured at a pace that can fairly be called “relentless” from 2002 until 2007. They made records: Tallahassee, We Shall All Be Healed, The Sunset Tree, Get Lonely. They took to recruiting drummers from their opening acts to play the last few songs with them. And then they met Jon Wurster, and the three took to the road in support of Get Lonely, from Fairbanks, Alaska to Hobart, Tasmania, and a few points even further south. They enjoyed playing together so much that when it came time to repair to the studio again, all three went in. In 2008, the three recorded Heretic Pride, and in early 2009, The Life of the World to Come.

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Band Members
John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster and Matt Douglas

When Beat the Champ came out, a wrestler named Sasha Banks tweeted at me: “Where’s my song, @mountain_goats?” As a territories guy I had to learn her story. I said I’d finish the song by the end of the tour; it took a little longer than that.

Last night Sasha Banks wrestled for the Money in the Bank title, and while she didn’t take it home this time, I’ve learned enough about where she came from and how she got to where she is now to say with confidence: the sky is the limit for you. Your walk is just beginning and the day will come when all your setbacks look like steps on a ladder.

Jon Wurster and I recorded this song at Chris Stamey’s place last week — that’s Chris on bass; I last worked with Chris on the Moon Colony Bloodbath DP. Thanks to Chris for making this happen and to the Boss, Sasha Banks herself, for inspiring us all – to learn about you and to write this song was a real honor for me.

Dedicated of course to Sasha and to everybody who’s even had a hint of what it looks like when your dreams start pushing their elbows through the gauze into the real world of blood & sweat & bone.

The MGs always take care of their fans, they don’t have to do a ot of the things they do and they always do it with quality writing and craftsmanship.
Released June 18th, 2018
John Darnielle – Guitar, keys, vocals
Jon Wurster – Drums and Percussion
Chris Stamey – Bass

Listen to John Darnielle’s early solo Mountain Goats albums — those raw-nerved, stripped-bare, white-knuckle, guy-and-guitar recordings he committed to warped cassette tapes all those years ago — it’s hard to imagine all the creative side roads he’d one day follow. In the years since a polished band slowly materialized around him, Darnielle has filled out his discography with ambitious concept records like a mournful and fatalistic set of songs named for Bible verses (2009’s The Life Of The World To Come) and 2015’s Beat The Champ, in which Darnielle delves into the little-known underworld of pro wrestling.

For the Mountain Goats‘ 16th full-length album, Goths, Darnielle once again takes a conceptual detour. As its title suggests, it’s about growing up goth — about establishing a place for yourself among other outcasts — but it also finds the band shedding guitars and adding a fourth permanent member in multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas. Each of those changes proves important: Thematically rich enough to encompass everything from radio-sound tracked summer road trips to memories of drugs and debauchery to the lessons learned from the splintering of the band Gene Loves Jezebel, Goths makes bold moves in its subtly vibrant sound, which here revolves largely around piano and Douglas‘ woodwind arrangements.

On many of the Mountain Goats‘ most recent records, bassist Peter Hughes, drummer Jon Wurster and an assortment of gifted producers have helped give Darnielle’s compositions a curiously pristine, sometimes muted quality, and Goths continues in that vein. But the band has never seemed quite as peppy it does in spots here. Though the album opens with “Rain In Soho,” in which members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus provide a doomy backdrop for Darnielle’s dark and gripping observations, elsewhere, playfulness emerges in the sound.

In “The Grey King And The Silver Flame Attunement,” Goths’ themes of aging in the underground are summed up beautifully in seven ambivalent words (“I’m hardcore / But I’m not that hardcore”), which Darnielle sings in a tentative whisper as woodwinds whistle and lilt alongside him. There’s a sunny quality, in both the words and the arrangement, that can only upend expectations. Similarly, the mission statement “Wear Black” sways along with a doo-wop vibe that keeps darkness at arms’ length. For John Darnielle, goth isn’t a sound or a style so much as a state of mind: a source of comfort and connection for the young and lost, sure, but it needn’t leave your side as you age, either.

Let’s start with this. The Mountain Goats who are releasing a new album. It is, as any fan of the band will expect, a heartbreaking and heart reviving album about imperfect people described perfectly, with melodies that will stay with you for days.  Ever-wonderful Mountain Goats return with a new album Goths, due out on 19th May .

It is a particularly appropriate/nostalgic title for those of us of a certain age who were in the thick of the original Goth movement, all black with purple hints, eyeliner and gloom all pervading and its capital in the heart of the north of England remembering bands like the Mission and Sisters Of Mercy.

It is summed up perfectly by the first single Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back To Leeds, of which John Darnielle has to say of the undisputed godfather of Goth, “In the lyric, I imagine one of my teenage heroes, Andrew Eldritch, returning to the town where the band worked and played when they were young. His friends give him a hard time about ending up back where he started, but not because they’re mad: it’s good to see an old friend wearing the marks of time on his hands and face like well-loved tattoos. So shall it be in these times: your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions, and Andrew Eldritch, whose music has reached spirits in every corner of the globe, will move back to Leeds.”

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John Darnielle: vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes
Peter Hughes: bass, vocals
Matt Douglas: woodwinds, vocals, additional keys
Jon Wurster: drums and percussion

The project from singer-songwriter John Darnielle is best known for lyrically dense albums and an extremely rabid fan base. The Mountain Goats’ discography can be broken down into two halves; the early lo-fi albums that Darnielle self recorded and the studio recorded output he has released with a full band since 2002. While there are ardent fans of both sides, one album in particular manages to marry both styles: 2002’s All Hail West Texas, a 14-song collection recorded by Darnielle when his trusty Panasonic RX-FT500 suddenly spurred back to life. Here, Darnielle records tunes packed with some of his most detailed songwriting, like fan favorite anthem “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” which includes a sing-a-long outro of “Hail Satan!” Elsewhere, the doomed ballad “Fault Lines” and “Mess Inside” provide the detailed character sketches Darnielle would perfect on later concept albums.