…that I really missed out on. When All Hail West Texas was released in 2002, I gave it a listen but really couldn’t get my head around John Darnielle’s voice. Pretty quickly, it got dumped in the recycle bin. I think that year all my lo-fi attention went primarily to Iron and Wine’s The Creek Drank The Cradle. Years have passed and in late 2007 John Darnielle guested on the leading single from Aesop Rock’s None Shall Pass. I’m a passive Aesop Rock fan, to me no single he’s released has topped 2001’s Daylight, but when I found myself having to review None Shall Pass, I was forced to give it a longer listen. The final track Coffee dug its way into my brain.
Here is the lo-fi, splatter core video for Aesop Rock’s ‘Coffee’
I hadn’t really put much thought into John Darnielle’s guesting on a hip-hop track (even if it is an out-there DefJux release), but his voice was one of the more captivating aspects of the funky, lumbering number. Darnielle’s voice bounces around in the background of the track, finally surfacing for his verse at the very end. Even just the structure of the track, leaving the featured verse to the final seconds of the song confused me enough to listen over and over.So I started poking around the net for more Mountain Goats and found that they’d released a track of the forthcoming Heretic Pride album (Feburary 18th, 2008) onto the web.
I am coming home to you, with my own blood in my mouth.
I think initially, beyond the lo-fi hiss that put me off from their earlier works, I was also a little alienated by Darnelle’s voice. By re-exposing myself to it via a song like Coffee, which gave me nothing of their instrumentation and only his voice to cling to, his voice became the thing that drew me in. Plus, they’ve gained a polish to their music which has alienated old fans, but probably made things easier for me. Hell, I’m more content with The Mountain Goats post-polish than I am with Iron and Wine’s venture into actual production. ‘Sax Rohmer #1’ is a jaunty track, weaving a Decemberist-ian narritive about the coming chaos of some spy war or something or other. It’s an atmospheric piece, tension builds and Darnielle yelps against hurried guitar strums.Suddenly, I’m listening to this on repeat too, but I think I’m just a sucker for hooks about blood and romance.