The Mountain Goats
|The Mountain Goats|
The Mountain Goats in 2014
|Genres||Indie folk, indie rock, lo-fi|
|Labels||Merge, 4AD, Shrimper Records, Absolutely Kosher, Ajax, Emperor Jones, 3 Beads of Sweat Records, Yoyo Records|
|Associated acts||The Extra Lens, The Seneca Twins, The Bloody Hawaiians, The Congress, John Vanderslice, Kaki King, Owen Pallett|
For many years, the sole member of the Mountain Goats was Darnielle despite the plural moniker. Although he remains the core member of the band, he has gradually worked with a variety of collaborators who have included bassist Peter Hughes, drummer Jon Wurster, singer-songwriter Franklin Bruno, bassist and vocalist Rachel Ware, singer-songwriter/producer John Vanderslice, guitarist Kaki King and Annie Clark.
Throughout the 1990s, the Mountain Goats were known for producing low-fidelity home recordings (most famously, on a boom box) and releasing recordings in cassette or vinyl 7" formats. Since 2002, the Mountain Goats have adopted a more polished approach, recording studio albums with a full band.
The band's name is a reference to the Screamin' Jay Hawkins song "Yellow Coat". Darnielle released his first album, Taboo VI: The Homecoming, on Shrimper Records. Many of his first recordings and performances featured Darnielle accompanied by members of the all-girl reggae band The Casual Girls, who became known as The Bright Mountain Choir. One of this group's members, Rachel Ware, continued to accompany Darnielle on bass, both live and in studio, until 1995.
The first five years of the Mountain Goats' career saw a prolific output of songs on cassette, vinyl and CD. These releases spanned multiple labels and countries of origin, often released in limited numbers. The focus of the Mountain Goats project was the urgency of writing. Songs not recorded adequately to tape within days of being written were often forgotten.
By 1995, most of what could be considered classic Mountain Goats conventions (boom-box recording, song series, Latin quotes, and mythological themes) were abandoned in favor of a more thematically focused and experimental sound. This period was marked by Darnielle's collaborations with other artists including Alastair Galbraith and Simon Joyner. In November 1996, Darnielle announced a vow to "clear his musical tendency for profanity" to promote a more optimistic reception to the ideas outlined in his material.
2002 saw the release of two Mountain Goats albums: All Hail West Texas and Tallahassee. These albums mark a distinct change in focus for the Mountain Goats project, being the first in a series of concept albums that explore aspects of The Mountain Goats' canon in depth. All Hail West Texas featured the resurrection of Darnielle's early boom box recording for a complete album. Darnielle considers this album to be the culmination of his lo-fi recording style. Tallahassee, recorded with a band and in a studio, explores the relationship of a couple whose lives were the subject of the song cycle known as the Alpha Series. Also released that year was Martial Arts Weekend, attributed to The Extra Glenns, a collaboration with Franklin Bruno on several previously unreleased Mountain Goats songs. Following that recording, Bruno joined Darnielle in the studio along with bassist Peter Hughes, who is the second official member of the band and accompanies Darnielle on tour. These three musicians form what may be considered the Mountain Goats studio band.
In 2004, the Mountain Goats released We Shall All Be Healed. The album marked a number of changes for the Mountain Goats. It was the first time Darnielle worked with producer John Vanderslice and the first album of directly autobiographical material. We Shall All Be Healed chronicles Darnielle's life with a group of friends and acquaintances addicted to methamphetamine in Portland, Oregon, though the album is set in Pomona, California. The following year the band's second Vanderslice-produced album, The Sunset Tree, was released. Again autobiographical, Darnielle tackled the subject of his early childhood spent with an abusive stepfather. Darnielle had previously dealt with this subject in what he often refers to as the only autobiographical song he had written before 2004, the unreleased song "You're in Maya."The Mountain Goats relocated to Durham, North Carolina in 2006 and issued Get Lonely, which was produced by Scott Solter, who had worked with Vanderslice on engineering for prior Mountain Goats records.
Jon Wurster joined the group in 2007, playing drums on the last leg of the Get Lonely tour. The band recorded tracks for its next album at Prairie Sun studios. Entitled Heretic Pride, the album was released on February 19, 2008. Produced by John Vanderslice and Scott Solter, Darnielle, Hughes and Wurster were joined by Franklin Bruno, Erik Friedlander and Annie Clark (better known by her stage name, St. Vincent). Aesop Rock released a remix of the track "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" from the album, and in return Darnielle contributed vocals to his album None Shall Pass.
Darnielle and Vanderslice collaborated on the record Moon Colony Bloodbath. Released in a limited vinyl run of 1000 and sold during their "Gone Primitive" tour, the EP was a concept record about organ harvesting colonies on the moon. This was followed by the next full Mountain Goats album, The Life of the World to Come, which released in October of the same year. In publicising the record the band made their first ever television appearance, performing "Psalms 40:2" on The Colbert Report, hosted by professed Mountain Goats fan Stephen Colbert.
The Mountain Goats signed to Merge Records, home to drummer Jon Wurster's other band, Superchunk, in 2010. The label issued a new record by The Extra Lens, formerly The Extra Glenns, entitled Undercard, followed by another Mountain Goats LP, All Eternals Deck, in 2011. They were also chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he was due to curate in December 2011 in Minehead, England but were unable to appear due to a rescheduling.
The band's fourteenth studio album, Transcendental Youth, was released in late 2012, and in early 2013 they played at Carnegie Hall in support of John Green and Hank Green in their "Evening of Awesome" performance. In July 2013, All Hail West Texas was re-released on vinyl.
Former members and collaborators
- Rachel Ware – bass, vocals (1992–1995)
- The Bright Mountain Choir
- The North Mass Mountain Choir
- Franklin Bruno – piano
- Lalitree Darnielle – banjo
- Alastair Galbraith – violin
- Graeme Jefferies – guitar
- John Vanderslice
- Erik Friedlander – cello
- Owen Pallett – strings
- Scott Solter
- Alex Decarville
- Richard Colburn – drums
- Christopher McGuire – drums
- Nora Danielson – violin
- Maggie Doyle – keytar
- Kaki King
- Yuval Semo – organ, piano, string arrangement
|Nothing for Juice||1996||Ajax||CD/LP|
|Full Force Galesburg||1997||Emperor Jones||CD/LP|
|The Coroner's Gambit||2000||Absolutely Kosher||CD/LP|
|All Hail West Texas||2002||Emperor Jones||CD/LP|
|We Shall All Be Healed||2004||4AD||CD/LP|
|The Sunset Tree||2005||4AD||CD/LP|
|The Life of the World to Come||2009||4AD||CD/LP|
|All Eternals Deck||2011||Merge||CD/LP|
|Beat the Champ||2015||Merge||CD/LP|
In other media
The band's music has been featured in the Showtime television series Weeds. "Cotton" was prominently featured in the season one episode "The Punishment Light", and "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" was featured in the season four episode "Yes I Can." The band performed the Theme to Weeds (Malvina Reynold's "Little Boxes") during the opening credits of Season 8, Episode 5.
The songs "No Children", "Old College Try", and "Love Love Love" were each featured in separate episodes of the television series Moral Orel's third season, which featured major running themes of alcoholism, regret, and domestic discontent.
The band made their television debut on October 6, 2009, playing "Psalms 40:2" on The Colbert Report. On January 19, 2010, they played "Genesis 3:23" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On February 23, 2011, they played "Birth of Serpents" in support of their album, All Eternals Deck, on the Late Show with David Letterman.
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- Nickey, Jason (2008). "The Mountain Goats: Biography". Allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
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- Brown, "Sermon on the Mount", June 1999.
- Mountain Goats Hatch Studio Plans - Aversion.com
- "News Archive | High Heresy". The Mountain Goats. November 20, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "John Darnielle Tells the Story Behind the Mountain Goats' Biblical New LP". Pitchfork Media. September 8, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- John Darnielle's Mountain Goats and Extra Lens Sign to Merge Records, Pitchfork, August 5, 2010 
- "All Lanes Merge Immediately". Mountain-goats.com. August 5, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "Mountain Goats All Eternals Deck Details". Stereogum. December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "ATP curated by Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel)". All Tomorrow's Parties. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "Just Under 1,000 Words About Our New Album". Mountain-goats.com. July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
- , John and Hank Green and Falling in Love With the World, retrieved on 12 May 2013
- , John and Hank Green taking brother act to Carnegie Hall, retrieved on 12 May 2013
- "The Mountain Goats - Beat the Champ" (in English). Merge Records. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Gordon, Jeremy (6 April 2015). "Album Review: Beat the Champ". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- The Mountain Goats at AllMusic
- "Weeds Music". Showtime. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- "Little Boxes". Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- Brown, Jake (January 21, 2010). "The Mountain Goats on Jimmy Fallon". Glorious Noise. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Adams, Tim (2004). "Discography of The Mountain Goats". Retrieved 19 March 2005
- Adams, Tim (2005). "Mountain Goats Discography". Retrieved 19 March 2005
- themountaingoats.net staff (2004). "The Mountain Goats FAQ". Retrieved 20 March 2005
- unknown author (2003). "Tallahassee Biography". Retrieved 20 March 2005
- Nickey, Jason(2000). "Mountain Goats Biography". Retrieved 20 March 2005
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Mountain Goats.|
- Official site
- The Annotated Mountain Goats, a research project explaining and sourcing Mountain Goats lyrics
- Last Plane To Jakarta, John Darnielle's zine
- Five Tools Peter Hughes webpage with band photos and tour journals.
- The Mountain Goats at AllMusic
- The Mountain Goats discography at MusicBrainz
- Mountain Goats collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive