Monday, January 20, 2014

More Mountain Goats

Who'd have thought that I'd ever buy another Mountain Goats album? My first impressions of Tallahassee (click here to read) were uncertain at best and downright disappointed at worst, but instead of retiring the CD after one spin, I listened again and, helped along by some insight from Liam 1p, I soon changed my mind.

And now here I am, the proud owner of a second Mountain Goats CD. I stumbled upon Heretic Pride in Spillers a couple of weeks ago, and - knowing nothing about it besides the artist - I decided to buy it. How far my opinions have come.

Now, Tallahassee was ample evidence of how inaccurate a first impression can be, but after a couple of spins, I wonder if I might like Heretic Pride even more than its elder brother.

And here are some reasons why:

It has drums. This was one of my big issues with Tallahassee, and while I initially got over it, I was very pleased to hear a kit on most of these songs. John Darnielle's awesome voice sounds even more powerful when skins are being smacked underneath it - just listen to Sax Rohmer #1 the album's astounding opener:

The boring songs are less boring. Tracks like New Zion and In the Craters on the Moon are hardly among the highlights of Heretic Pride, but their nice little orchestral touches make them more interesting (in my opinion) than International Small Arms Traffic Blues and some of Tallahassee's other quiet'uns.

It's not a concept album. A very uncharacteristic piece of praise for me to offer, but there it is. Apparently, most of the critics who didn't like this album highlighted its lack of a cohesive concept as one of its big problems, but I rather like it. Once I'd established that Tallahassee was the story of a self-loathing, alcoholic couple struggling to reignite their marriage against a Floridian backdrop, I could more or less fill in the blanks myself. But Heretic Pride is an album of 13 unconnected tracks, each of which sounds like it was christened by Wikipedia's 'Random article' button.

It may not make for such a cohesive LP, but it's nice to know that, next time I've got a day that needs filling, I can do so by Googling all of these obscure references. I already get some of them, a little bit - Lovecraft and Michael Myers are familar names - but I've not idea what song titles like Marduk T-Shirt Men's Room Incident refer to. It'll be fun to find out.

So that's two MG albums on the wall. The net suggests that there are 12 others, not including cassettes, EPs, and other stuff - can anyone recommend my third? Liam, are you reading this?

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