morning folks! this week we are beginning a discography that i am no stranger to – The Mountain Goats. the story of the Mountain Goats begins well before our first entry today, as John Darnielle, the founding and central member of the band, was releasing music on cassette with Shrimper Records as early as 1991. i am going to skip these early cassettes for a variety of reasons – the tapes are on youtube but not on other streaming services, and the bits ive heard indicate that it’ll be a bit of journey to find a good recording of them. if folks are super interested, i may have to track them down, but i think for now i will skip them and start with the first full-length album, which features the Bright Mountain Choir (who had joined Darnielle on many of the cassettes), Zopilote Machine, released with Ajax Records in 1994.

Alpha Incipiens is a p good opener. there are a few lyrical throughlines in this discography, and this record has a pretty solid representation of a few. Alpha Incipiens is about a marriage that folks have referred to as the Alpha Couple, a married pair that are deeply disfunctional and destructive. we’ll see more of them in a moment. Azo Tle Nelli in Tlalticpac? roughly translates to “is he really on earth?” – the slow, plodding guitar strums are solid and building a sense of dream, but i think the execution here’s a bit lackluster. Alpha Sun Hat is another song about the Alpha Couple – beyond confirming that they live in Tallahassee, this one’s got a bleak, sun-baked vibe to it. The Black Ice Cream Song’s p solid. not a ton to say about this one. i love Sinaloon Milk Snake Song so much. i was introduced to it by my sister, who was exploring the early parts of this discography, and i was so enamored i basically built the first story in my cowboy comic, Further On Down the Line, around it. the inspiration playlist, featuring this song, is here, and i really need to upload that comic soon. anyways, i always find the mislead on the rhyme for “all i could think about is water” so so so compelling. phenomenal. plus the Bright Mountain Choir kicks ass on this track. easily the best song on the record. We Have Seen the Enemy has a certain kind of tragic closeness to it. neat song. Standard Bitter Love Song #7 is apparently part of a series that we’ve only heard a few bits of (on one of the tapes before this, and on a record after this). Quetzalcoatl Eats Plums has some really evocative lyrics to me. very nice song. Orange Ball of Love is a song about adoration and paranoia in equal measure. man the chorus is real strong here. Orange Ball of Hate’s got a lot going on, haha. i REALLY like the twangy strumming in the intro in Bad Priestess, that sounds excellent. this album features several “Going to [ ]” songs, and Going to Bristol is our first example. a song about a difficult end. real good. Young Ceasar 2000 is an interesting little song about a young ruler about to exercise power, a moment of realizing you need to act before it slips through your fingers. Going to Lebanon is our second of three “Going to” tracks on this record. Grendel’s Mother has a quiet fury to it, gotta love it. really not a fan of Song for Tura Satana. the mix here kinda hurts. Alpha In Tauris is our last look at the Alpha Couple this record, as we approach the end of the record. gotta love a fucked up reaction. Going to Georgia is the unequivocally most impactful track off the record. Darnielle’s talked about how he’s not super fond of this song these days as the picture of toxic masculinity isn’t something he’s happy to have portrayed in such a banger of a song (he’s spoken similarly about Bad Priestess, for what it’s worth). gotta agree with that assessment – this song has a sense of longing to it that’s all fucked up. cannot look away. Quetzalcoatl is Born rounds out the record by returning to Quetzalcoatl. p solid closer.

faves – Sinaloon Milk Snake Song, Quetzalcoatl Eats Plums, Orange Ball of Love, Going to Georgia
dislikes – Song for Tura Satana

i can absolutely see how it took me so long to spend quality time with this record – the recording quality is a bit hit or miss on this release, and while there’s some really really strong songs here, taken as a package the quality is a bit mixed as well. there’s places where the cassette player Darnielle is recording on accentuates the sound he’s going for, or there’s places where it HURTS, like Song for Tura Satana. def worth checking out for big Mountain Goats fans.

Zopilote Machine – 6/10

next, we’re gonna go to a release from Shrimper Records that i’m significantly less familiar with, it’s 1995’s Sweden. i actually made an error, and skipped an EP – next stop is 1994’s Beautiful Rat Sunset

this is the beginning | next: Beautiful Rat Sunset

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats