Tag Archives: John Darnielle

Song-A-Day: February 20

We celebrated Give Up on the 19th, but that date is also the anniversary of one of my lesser-known favorite albums in All Hail West Texas by The Mountain Goats. This one captured Darnielle at one of his song writing peaks, and not much else in his discography compares to the one-two punch of “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Danton” and today’s Song-A-Day: “Fall of the Star Running Back”.

Sophomore year
You rushed for an average
Of 8 1/3 yards per carry
All eyes were on you

Junior year
You blew your knee out
At an out-of-town game
Nowhere to go but
Down, down, down
Nothing but the ground
for you to fall to

By July
You’d made a whole bunch of brand new friends
People you used to look down on
And you’d figured out
A way to make real money
Giving Ns to your friends
And it felt stupendous:
Chrome spokes on your Japanese bike
But selling acid was a bad idea
And selling it to a cop was a worse one
And new laws said that
17-year-olds could do federal time
You were the first one,
so I sing this song for you
William Standaforth Donahue
Your grandfather rode the boat
Over from Ireland, but
You made a bad decision or two.

Song-A-Day: January 5th

The NFL playoffs started yesterday in dramatic fashion as The Kansas City Chiefs suffered a historic collapse to the Indianapolis Colts thanks to unfortunate luck with injuries and inspired play by Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, while the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints on the last play of the game on a field goal by Shayne Graham to give them a 26-24 win.

The good news for the Chiefs and Eagles is that although what happened to them is extremely unfortunate, things could be much worse for them as there are definitely more cursed franchises in sports. Today’s Song-A-Day goes to The Mountain Goats with “Cubs in Five” where John Darnielle sings about how he’s going to find a way to love his lover again, how the Tampa Bay Bucs are going to make it to January, and how the Chicago Cubs are going to win it all in 5.

 

They’re gonna find intelligent life up there on the moon
And the Canterbury Tales will shoot up to the top of the best seller list
And stay there for 27 weeks

And the Chicago Cubs
Will beat every team in the league
And the Tampa Bay Bucs
Will make it all the way to January
And I will love you again
I will love you,
Like I used to
I will love you again
I will love you,
Like i used to

The stars are gonna spell out the answers to tommorow’s crosswords
And the Phillips Corporation will admit that they’ve made an awful mistake
And Bill Gates will single handedly spearhead
The Heaven Seventeen Revival

And the Chicago Cubs
Will beat every team in the league
And the Tampa Bay Bucs
Will take it all the way to the top
And I will love you again
I will love you,
Like I used to
I will love you again
I will love you,
Like i used to

Artists Who Are Due For Their Next Release in 2014

I hope that everybody had an excellent holiday season and received gifts which caused them joy, and I would like to remind you that these gifts don’t stop coming once the holidays are over. We receive gifts in the form of hope for the future constantly, and these less tangible items help us to make it through our daily lives because something beautiful may be on the horizon. Being as this is a music blog and I am a man who love speculating on future music releases, here are some artists who are probably due to release their new album at some point in 2014.
 
Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo
 
I wasn’t a fan of his when I saw him play live at our Birthday show back in 2011, but Avi Zahner-Isenberg’s ability to put together a terrific studio album shouldn’t be doubted. His self-titled debut album from 2010 holds some fantastic songs on it, such as “Summer Cum” and “What’s In It For?“. I can’t find an official page on the promise of an album from him in 2014, but his wikipedia article does suggest that the sophomore album was being constructed in 2013 and therefore can be hoped for in the upcoming year.
The Antlers
 
Purely speculation on my part, but the band has last released an album in 2011 and have only released the EP Undersea since then in 2012. For a band that’s still actively touring and writing music, I have to speculate that 2014 could reveal the fifth studio album for this talented band to display their version of soft and experimental folk-rock.
Beck
Consistently interesting and well established to the point that he’ll be able to do basically whatever he’d like, Beck is at an ideal place for a musician to be. His last studio album was done back in 2008 and was widely praised in Modern Guilt but that won’t be true for much longer as we are about to hear Beck’s twelfth studio album in February of upcoming year named Morning Phase, supposedly with a ‘Sea Change’ vibe to it.

Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club
 
A much anticipated album by me because A Different Kind of Fix was such a stellar release by the group. How will they follow it up and how much will the sound change? I guess we’ll find out on February 3rd
Brand New
 
Honestly I  don’t care to much about the release of the next Brand New album because I think I’m out of the age range where they should be relevant to me. I would agree that they are a legitimate band though, and they’re loved by a lot of my friends who know their stuff about music so it’s worth covering here that they’ve been touring a lot recently and supposedly said at a show that they have been recording new material.
Cloud Nothings
 
Attack on Memory was one of the finest releases out there in 2012, but it seems promising that they’re hinted 2014 release will be a different sound from the Cleveland noise-rockers. They’ve promised a sound which is more true to their playing style and thus the upcoming album should be expected to be more similar to the track “Wasted Days” and not-so-much like “Fall In“. Either way I’m interested in seeing how quality of a release it is and how close they come to crossing over to punk or grunge in the process.

Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie
 
We’re definitely out of the golden-age for this band, but I’m hard pressed to say that I won’t give a listen to anything that Gibbard releases out of respect for his voice and past writing experience. The group posted a photo on Instagram three months ago to announce the beginning the band’s work on their eighth studio album.
Death From Above 1979
 
It’s hard to not imagine the ‘what if’ for this band and their potential re-emergence into the music scene, filled with energy packed guitar rock hopefully. The album could be coming out in 2014 and I’m hopeful for it being awesome as this could make Canada the place to be for modern noise-rock as it could claim Japandroids and Death From Above 1979 (and Metz too if you want to throw them in that category).
The Drums
 
The fact that this album is coming three years after Portamento is actually a blessing because it will say a lot about how good the band actually is. Their music is incredibly fun to listen to, catchy and funny, but I’m of the opinion that a lot of artists can write about their failed past relationships in a pop song. I’m interested in hearing the band’s third studio album because I believe it will be a defining point for what kind of band The Drums will be in the future.
 
Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
 
I really hope that Jonathan Tillman’s departure from the band is as insignificant as the phrase ‘The Drummer from Fleet Foxes left the band’ suggests, but I don’t think that’s a fair viewpoint because Tillman went on to release a fine solo album in Fear Fun under the moniker of Father John Misty. Still, you should be excited for the future of this band because the last time they released an album it was 2011 and they out-shined Bon Iver’s Bon Iver ,Bon Iver that year in my eyes with Helplessness Blues. The band has indicated via photos on their Facebook page that they are currently working on album number three.
Guided By Voices
 
A safe bet in any year to release an album or two so long as they’re active, Robert Pollard must be writing constantly.
The Hold Steady
 
I love Craig Finn as a lead singer, and I’m very much so anticipating hearing what lines he gets on the upcoming album (can it be much better than “She said the theme of this party’s the Industrial Age/ And you came in dressed like a train-wreck”?). Hopefully they do a national tour in support of the release because this is a band who I would absolutely love to see play live.

M83

M83
 
Haven’t seen any news that this one’s being worked on but the band has never taken more than three years to release an album, even for their most recent double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming back in 2011. Their next release will say a lot about how much of a premiere alternative electronic artist the band is because their last two albums have been spectacular in the aforementioned Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming as well as Saturdays=Youth in 2008.
Metronomy
 
I don’t know to much about the band, but I do know that their last album release in 2011 was The English Riviera and that one is viewed as a classic by WCDB DJ Luuk. The follow-up to that album is going to be named Love Letters and is scheduled to come out on March 10 according to their website.
Modest Mouse
 
Isaac Brock did decide to name his label Glacial Pace for a reason, though even with that in mind it’s difficult to imagine 2014 passing without hearing the new Modest Mouse album. They’ve been testing out new songs at their live shows for about the past year now, including songs being played at major festival shows, and it was well reported that they went into the studio with Big Boi of all people back in 2011 to work on new songs. I’m excited obviously as this is my favorite band, but it’s also going to be really interesting to see what a Modest Mouse album sounds like when Brock takes five years to actually put the thing together. It’s hard to imagine a potential product that has a lot of holes in it.

mountaingoats

The Mountain Goats
 
‘Due’ is a funny word to use hear because we just heard from this album in 2012 with Transcendental Youth, but John Darnielle’s history shows that this band has never had a three year gap between albums. They’re one of those bands who excel by working and writing constantly, and because of this we may very well be treated to their next album in the upcoming year.
The New Pornographers
 
This Canadian super-group is the most consistent modern pop group out there in my opinion, and they’ve been in the studio to record new material in the middle of last year. That article seems to suggest that the album may already be done, and I’m not sure about the validity of that statement, but I would place a monetary bet on the fact that there will be a new New Pornographers LP out  within the next year.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
 
It’s not speculation to say that they plan on releasing an album in 2014, but it is speculation to say that I think it will end up being one of the defining albums of the year. The band has had an absolutely stellar first two albums in S/T and Belong, and the timing seems right for this band to step into the spotlight.

the Raveonettes

The Raveonettes
 
No news on a new album by this group, but ‘an album every two years’ seems to be a relevant statement with this band’s discography, and their last release was in 2012 with Observator.
Real Estate
 
The band announced via Youtube videos (#1 and #2) that their third studio album will be released in 2014. I’m excited for it because I enjoyed Days a lot in 2011 and find their music to be relaxing, but this album should mean something significant about how legitimate of an artist the group is. Third releases mean a lot, and we’ll see if the band has progressed the sound for their third release or not rather soon it appears.
Robert Pollard
 
See: Guided By Voices
Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams
 
His Wikipedia page states that he did a live show in 2013 where the venue stated he was playing new songs from his forthcoming album, so that’s what we have to work with here. It makes sense since his last album release came out in 2011, and it’s the better alternative to just drifting out of music which it seemed like he may have been heading towards before I heard this news, so this is a good thing.
Spoon
 
You talk about ‘cool’ bands in the music scene, I will contend that Britt Daniel is the coolest man in the music scene, and I can not freaking wait to hear the next album by this band which will supposedly get released in 2014. The band has been very consistent with their quality so I’m liking the chances of Spoon putting out one of the better albums of the year once it does actually get released.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
 
Wig Out at Jagbags is set to be released on January 7 2014, thus making it the earliest release to be excited about that I’m aware of. Malkmus is a terrific front-man, and if they consistently give hysterical social commentary like they did on “Senator” off of Mirror Traffic in 2011 then I will be one happy man.
Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens
 
The time seems right to start hoping for a new release from Sufjan. He did release his second Christmas Songs box set in 2012 with Silver & Gold: Vols. 6-10 but the last true album which we’ve received from him was the widely experimental and interesting Age of Adz back in 2010. It should be very interesting to hear what direction Stevens chooses to take for his next album as the last one was so unprecedented that it’s difficult to know if it is a permanent sound shift or an artistic experiment in the same way that Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is making me ask the same question about that band. Guess we’ll just have to wait to find out in both cases.
Tame Impala
 
The band’s got a lot of attention on it after the success of Lonerism in 2012, so if 2014 does hold the follow-up to that album then there will be a lot of coverage on Tame Impala in the upcoming year. For most band’s that rise to national recognition is a wonderful thing and justification for the effort, but I’ve got to speculate on how well they would handle the actual role considering the recurring song themes, and even the actual album name of their last release. A band that has the talent to be a premiere group, but a band who likely don’t feel comfortable with the modern social demand that fans give to their favorite artists, and the truth is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s how they prefer to work.
Titus Andronicus
 
A motivated Patrick Stickles is a wonderful thing to hear as The Monitor has shown us, and the upcoming release is getting billed as a 30-track modern rock opera with the theme of Manic Depression. In other words, this release is probably going to be mind-blowingly good while also being completely different from anything else that they’ve released before. There’s a lot of reason for excitement about this release.

Wilco

Wilco
 
No announcement of studio work for the group, but that doesn’t seem all that strange since Tweedy does all of that stuff internally now anyways. The last time we got a Wilco album was the solid The Whole Love back in 2011 so it would make sense to hope that 2014 will be the landing point for studio album number nine from the group.
Anybody else? Likely. Realize that while it’s incredibly fun to speculate on what albums are going to define the upcoming year, it’s a difficult thing to be completely accurate on because years will often get best represented by albums which nobody saw coming. Still, these are all releases which are going to demand a listen from me and carry the hope that 2014 could be an excellent year for music where many talented artists are due for their latest release.

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 70-61

Here are numbers 70-61 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

70. The Flaming Lips- The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)

It’s a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want

“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” brings up an excellent social point in my mind, in that we shouldn’t be able to critique those above us without first considering what we would actually do in that situation. No hypotheticals, if you were placed into a position where you actually did have power what would you do with it? The whole song is really an accusation that you would probably misuse the power you had too in some way, and that that’s just a natural part of being human and not something to hold against a person. Try to find the good things in those people and understand that they could be infinitely more cruel and inept than they currently are and we’re lucky to have them.

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69. Jeffrey Lewis- Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song

“If I was Leonard Cohen or some other song writing master/ I’d know to first get the oral sex then right the song after.

One of my favorite things in music is when you fall in love with a song on the first listen. I listened to “Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song” for the first time a few months ago and Jeffrey Lewis’ story-telling ability amazed me alongside his openness about being a nervous male. There are so many things that get captured perfectly within the interaction, like how he slowly becomes more confident as everything in the conversation seems to progress perfectly, but then he lets you know ahead of time that the conversation only lasted for a few minutes and he never saw her again afterwards. After this, you learn that not only did the girl like him but she basically invited him to have sex with her, but he still couldn’t bring himself to suggest it. That interaction is tough for him to look back on in hindsight, but he reveals that that wasn’t the true motive he had in mind while writing the song. Rather, he realized that he wrote a love song for a girl that met him for two minutes and who he will likely never meet again, and realized that there could be people all around the world doing the same thing. There may even be people out there doing this for you and me, and that’s a beautiful thing to consider.

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68. The Mountain Goats- No Children

“I hope you die. I hope we both die.”

This was the Mountain Goats track that introduced me to the side of John Darnielle which is crazy. “No Children” is the story of the alpha couple which he wrote numerous song about, but stopped doing so after this track was made. That’s because Darnielle was becoming to depressed writing these songs, and after the chorus of “I hope you die. I hope we both die.” arrives you understand why. This couple has grown to despise each other so much that they want to see their pair die, but a fear still exists about what they would be if they had to exist alone.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 70-61

ESSENTIAL ALBUMS: THE MOUNTAIN GOATS- SWEDEN

Quick Band Bio: The Mountain Goats are an indie folk band that started back in 1991 and are still active today, their most recent release being Transcendental Youth last year. This being said, the only member who’s been in the band for the full time period is singer/songwriter John Darnielle who today is accompanied by bassist Peter Hughes and John Wurster on the drums, but back when Sweden was released was only paired with bassist/vocalist Rachel Ware. Back in 1995 at a festival soon after the release of Sweden, Darnielle stated  “I don’t think a career in music is a way to live, you know, so yeah I want to teach. I want to be a person, and music is..is a different aspect, an important aspect of life..but not, you know, I wouldn’t want to live like musicians live. I just couldn’t do that.”

Sweden was the 2nd Mountain Goats album, and in spite of the quote it would prove to be an early mark of brilliance in a discography that today features fourteen albums and numerous EPs. What makes Sweden the significant album from this group to look back on?

Continue reading ESSENTIAL ALBUMS: THE MOUNTAIN GOATS- SWEDEN