The Mountain GoatsFor many years throughout the 1990s, the sole member of the Mountain Goats was Darnielle, producing low-fidelity home recordings (most notably, on a cassette deck boombox) 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. Cassette releases during this time include The Hound Chronicles, Transmissions to Horace, Hot Garden Stomp, Taking the Dative, and Yam, the King of Crops.
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.
Some of these early cassette releases have been digitised and uploaded to YouTube by fans and there are some links to these recordings on the Good Times Go Good website.
Garden Song – The Hound Chronicles
Are You Cleaning Off The Stone – Hot Garden Stomp
In 1994, the Mountain Goats released their first full-length studio album, Zopilote Machine, on Ajax Records. It is the band’s only full album featuring the entirety of The Bright Mountain Choir. And while the recording quality is significantly better than the earlier cassette releases the rawness and stripped back nature of the songs remain.
Going to Georgia – Zopilote Machine
In 1995, the album Sweden was released. Soon after its recording, a sequel titled Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg was recorded, but never released. It remained unheard by the general public until 2007, when it was leaked against Darnielle’s wishes. One of the tracks was a cover of Carly Simon’s you’re so vain.
In 1996, the Mountain Goats released the album Nothing for Juice, and Full Force Galesburg the following year. Rachel Ware (of the Bright Mountain Choir) left the band between recording the two albums, and bassist Peter Hughes took over her position.
Between 1998 and 2000, the Mountain Goats slowed down their prolific output, releasing The Coroner’s Gambit in October 2000. The album partially returned to the band’s roots, as most songs were sporadically recorded on Darnielle’s old Panasonic RX-FT500 cassette deck Boombox, which produced a loud background noise to the songs.
I will grab you by the ears – Nothing for Juice
There Will Be No Divorce – The Coroner’s Gambit
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.
Jenny – All Hail West Texas
The Mess Inside – All Hail West Texas
Tallahassee, recorded with a band and in a studio, explores and concludes the relationship of a couple whose lives were the subject of the song cycle known as the Alpha Series.
Game Shows Touched Our Lives – Tallahassee
No Children – Tallahassee
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 formed what was 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, as 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.
Your Belgian Things – We Shall All Be Healed
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.”
Dance Music – The Sunset Tree
Up The Wolves – The Sunset Tree
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 19 February, 2008. Produced by John Vanderslice and Scott Solter, the album saw Darnielle, Hughes, and Wurster joined by Franklin Bruno, Erik Friedlander, Annie Clark (better known by her stage name, St. Vincent), and members of The Bright Mountain Choir. American Alternative hip hop artist 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, in the song “Coffee”.
Coffee – None Shall Pass (Aesop Rock)
In 2009, 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. The album is composed of twelve tracks, each one inspired by (and titled after) a single verse of the Christian Bible. In publicizing 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.
The Mountain Goats released its 15th album, Beat the Champ, on 7 April 2015, again with Merge Records. According to Pitchfork Media, the album concentrates on the professional wrestlers Darnielle admired when he was a child and tries to develop and imagine their lives. Matt Douglas assisted the group in recording the album, and soon thereafter became a full-time member.
Foreign Object – Beat The Champ
In January 2017, the Mountain Goats recorded a humorous song per request of director Rian Johnson, depicting an alternate story of his upcoming movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The song, titled “The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All the Other Jedi and Eats Their Bones”, was published on Johnson’s Soundcloud page.
The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All the Other Jedi and Eats Their Bones
In February 2017, Merge Records released the single Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back To Leeds about the lead singer of the Sisters of Mercy and announced the band’s sixteenth studio album, titled Goths, to be released 19 May 2017.
Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back To Leeds