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Monday, August 14th, 2006

Woke Up New

In 2004, The Mountain Goats released We Shall All Be Healed and one song – “Mole” – simply stopped me in my tracks. Lyrically, it was like John Darnielle was looking out of my own eyes at that specifc point in my life. It was more than a little eerie but also immensely comforting, somehow. I’ve never been one to really try and take solace in pop music, it’s just not my style, but it really did make me feel reassured in a way I couldn’t really explain. And still can’t today, even though the circumstances that created that emotional opening in me are long past and healed. It still gives me chills to hear it.

And now, two and a half years later, John Darnielle has somehow done it again. The album is Get Lonely!, due out next week, and the song is “Woke Up New”. I swear, this man is somehow plugged into the collective unconcious of humanity, or maybe just mine. And the fact that he’s somehow written these songs well in advance of my life catching up with them has some truly sinister implications – you can bet I’ll be confronting him about playing puppet master for my life when the Mountain Goats are at Lee’s Palace on September 19. Or maybe I’ll ask him to start writing happy songs. But seriously, though Darnielle doesn’t actually have any words in his vocabulary that you and I don’t, give or take, in his hands they’re somehow so much more than just words. Instead, they become little emotional land mines, innocuous and unnoticed until you’re right on top of them and then they become either lethal or liberating, depending on how attached you are to your current state of being.

Most of the record is in keeping with the sombre lyrical tone and austere musical arrangements of “Woke Up New” – there’s nothing as frantic or cathartic as “Dance Music” or “This Year” from The Sunset Tree. In fact, it’s the quietest record he’s put out on 4AD though he hasn’t returned to the boombox fidelity of his earlier recordings – even in its starkness, it still sounds quite rich and lovely in its way. The accompanying press release is probably quite correct in calling it the quiet aftermath of The Sunset Tree though it doesn’t really feel like a companion piece. Its emotional heft feels far more universal than its predecessor. It could be an album for break ups or an album for mourning though I suspect those pretty much amount to the same thing. I don’t know. I had been calling this record my album of the year but it’s probably more correct to say that it’s the album of my year.

Athens Exchange and Erasing Coulds have interviews with John Darnielle while The Sydney Morning Herald talks to Rian Johnson, who directed the elegant little video for “Woke Up New”. The MP3 is also up for grabs below and NPR is streaming another track from Get Lonely!.

And a question – I only have the Goats’ 4AD releases. If I wanted to begin exploring the earlier stuff, where should I begin? The back catalog is rather intimidating.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Woke Up New”
Video: The Mountain Goats – “Woke Up New”

Thematically tangentially – I saw Me And You And Everyone We Know this weekend based on some very positive reviews and you know what? I didn’t like it. Maybe I need to declare a moratorium on navel-gazing indie flicks about relationships where every line of dialogue is meant to be dripping with profundity, but on the whole I found it almost unbearably precious. There were some really funny bits and some really poignant bits but mostly I found it trying far too hard and largely missing its target. So yeah. There you go.

Trailer: Me And You And Everyone We Know

So you’ll note this week’s MP3 of the week was inspired by a Shoegaze Covers Show happening next Wednesday (August 23) at the Tranzac (no longer The Boat as originally planned) and which I will be playing DJ for the first (and possibly last) time. Disc jockeying isn’t something I’ve ever had any real inclination to get into, but I’m making an exception this time because a) Greg asked nicely and b) I have no obligation to get anyone to dance. If everyone in attendance just stares uncomfortably at their feet the whole night, I will consider it a triumph. But yeah, the lineup of bands is quite solid, the poster is styling and it should be a good time. Tickets are $8 in advance at Rotate and Soundscapes or $10 at the door. Do come out and request something that I will refuse to play.

I already reported on their October 16 show at the Mod Club, but Mojave 3 have officially announced large chunks of their Fall North American tour – check out their MySpace to see if they’ll be playing a town near you. Note the 10-day gap between Santa Monica and Chicago. I have to imagine there’ll be some hot midwest action going down in that span, so if you live around there keep checking back.

A torrent of Broken Social Scene’s much-lauded Lollapalooza set has surfaced on Dime A Dozen. Not the best audio quality, but considering the circumstances – audience recording in an outdoor festival amongst 70,000 other people – it’s not bad.

and if you haven’t noticed the banner over to the right there, I am running a contest right now to give away passes to the Virgin Festival on the Toronto Islands in September. Big contest. Big prizes. You should enter. The odds in my contests are usually a lot better than you might think… Just ask Thierry.

np – The Wedding Present / Search For Paradise

By : Frank Yang at 8:52 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. slumber says:

    re: YMAEWK, i couldn’t agree with you more. i rented it randomly, not having heard of it, and could barely sit through it. lame.

  2. bryan says:

    Frank,
    I would recommend grabbing All Hail West Texas. It was one of his later releases, 2002 I think, but the songs are so compelling. It is actually the MG album I listen to the most.

  3. Zack says:

    The Mountain Goats have some interesting EPs – ‘See America Right'(4AD) and ‘Devil in the Shortwave'(Yo-Yo) – that might interest you. A couple of very spare melodic tracks ("Yoga" and "Build Your Own Container Garden") are favorites of mine. And DITS has a cover of "Dirty Old Town."

  4. claire says:

    i agree with bryan. all hail west texas is definitely the must-have; i guess a lot of the "hits" are on there. great melodies, jaw-dropping mini-narratives.

  5. kathryn says:

    I agree with everyone else: All Hail West Texas is your next acquisition, and then Coroner’s Gambit. And then Nine Black Poppies because a life without "Cubs in Five" is a life scarcely lived, my friend.

    If you’re used to the slick production quality of the 4AD releases, working backwards chronologically soothes you into theback catalog.

  6. Five says:

    I believe Moops Music is selling off their MG stock at $6.00. I think they’ve 2 CDs left, I’d start there, just cause they’re cheapest.

  7. kat says:

    >> but mostly I found it trying far too hard and largely missing its target.

    ITA about "Me And You And Everyone We Know". I thought it was ridiculous and not worthy of being on anyone’s top 10 list.

  8. Jake says:

    Definitely All Hail West Texas. It’s the final album before 4AD, and it’s solid. I’m a huge fan, and it’s safe to say that his songwriting has definitely improved over the years. Some of the early stuff contains gems, but it can be hard to listen to (not due to the boombox fidelity, but because the lyrical quality often doesn’t match the ambition, if you know what I mean).

    All Hail West Texas is pretty fucking perfect though. "Source Decay" will tear your heart out.

  9. Kevon says:

    I’ll agree with "All Hail West Texas" and "The Coroner’s Gambit" – both brilliant albums. I’d also suggest checking out the 1996 release, "Nothing For Juice."

  10. prof fury says:

    Full Force Galesburg is also quite good, and I’d highly recommend getting the New Asian Cinema EP from iTunes (good luck finding a hard copy).

  11. Richard says:

    Pick up "All Hail West Texas", you will become more obsessed with them than you thought possible. Then move on to "The Coroner’s Gambit", "Sweden", or the singles comp "Ghana". All are fantastic.

  12. jewlie says:

    if you dont have coroner’s gambit, you NEED it. i am a huge mountain goats freak, and it might be their best album through and through. but yeah, you really can’t go wrong with anything. try to get hot garden stomp from the internet if you can.

  13. Dan says:

    For some reason the song from We Shall All Be Healed that really got me was "Quito". It’s one of those songs that you curse for only being two minutes long, and I simply can’t be sad or angry after I’ve listened to it.

  14. palpable says:

    Re: "Me And You And Everyone We Know" – I thought it was a totally over-rated art flick wannabe. Moments of interesting film spoiled by a terrible script. I wish more people would call something for what it is rather than trying to create the next indie/cult classic.

  15. Matte in Halifax says:

    Tallahasse is pretty awesome as well.

    but the demos for ‘Sunset Tree’ are great — ‘come come, to the sunset tree’.

    I believe you may be able to borrow some of these from torrentspy. hehe. in one big torrent is the entire discography.

    Buy the albums, but listen first :)

    Matte in Halifax