morning folks! we’re gonna be checking out the first of the compilation records put out to cover early Mountain Goats material, Protein Source of the Future… Now! this compilation, along with Bitter Melon Farm, were originally released in 1999 with Ajax Records before being re-released on 3 Beads of Sweat in 2002. because these are compilation records, i’m going to be skipping the overall review i normally include unless one of them really blows me away – i anticipate not having anything unique or novel to say about them as collections of tracks.

the first two tracks here, Going to Tennessee and Pure Heat, were originally off of a split EP with Simon Joyner called Why You All So Thief?, originally released in 1994. Going to Tennessee is nice and moody – there’s something really husky about the guitar on this one. Pure Heat is interesting – invites a lot of speculation. it’s surprising rosey and kinda happy, given the title and the suggestions made by the “fingers dripping kerosene” in the chorus. Handball was originally released on Our Salvation Is At Hand, from 1995. grim track! i kinda dig it. The Window Song was off of Pawnshop Reverb, a compilation tape from Shrimper records from 1992. this was apparently the first track where John Darnielle worked with the Bright Mountain Choir. neat. the next five tracks were all off 1993’s Chile de Árbol. Night of the Mules is an odd little one. i’m not a big fan of the drum machine interacting with the recording fuzz on this one. Billy the Kid’s Dream of the Magic Shoes is an odd track – i like the back half of this one quite a bit. Fresh Berries For You has some bits that peek through that i appreciate, but on the whole doesn’t quite land for me. Alphabetizing has a real good performance – the halting, stuttering guitar is really interesting, and i dig Darnielle’s vocals on this one. the next four are off of 1994’s Philyra. Third Snow Song’s interesting – based on what the wiki says are in the liner notes, this one’s almost certainly a reference to Portland, OR, which is neat. speaking of neat – that’s about how i feel about The Monkey Song. neat. Love Cuts the Strings is a really fun song – not many tracks deal with the way an emotional revelation can flip your shit, haha. the instrumental experimentation in Pure Honey doesn’t work at all – it’s dissonant in a way that i really don’t like and it kinda drags it out. Duke Ellington was off of The Long Secret from 1995, it looks like this was a kind of b-side for Sweden. nearly the rest of the tracks here are from Yam, the King of Crops, a cassette from 1994. Seed Song is a bit of a meta track, and i definitely appreciate that about it. Quetzalcoatl Comes Through is a nice track. i like the Quetzalcoatl songs for sure. Omega Blaster is a really fucking heavy one, just dropping a brick on the mood. not a ton to say about Coco-Yam Song. Alagemo has a vibe i always appreciate in Mountain Goats tracks, where its just a kind of slow reflection. Two Thousand Seasons is an interesting premise, reading the intro to a book while making an odd sound. i don’t think i would have even known that many of the Yam, the King of Crops contained references to African literature without digging a bit deeper into this record. very interesting stuff. Chinese Rifle Song’s a countrier tracks – neat little scene setting here. Yam, the King of Crops, ties the tracks from that cassette together as the closer from that release – i like this one as a closer, and it’s interesting having it right next to the actual closer of the compilation. Alpha Omega was also from Our Salvation Is At Hand, like Hardball, and i kinda like the decision to break it off to the end here. Yam, the King of Crops works well tying the food and mythology themes of that cassette together, but i think this one really works really well too. extremely funny in hindsight that this was supposed to be the ending of the Alpha cycle.

faves – Alphabetizing, Love Cuts the Strings
dislikes – Pure Honey

Protein Source of the Future… Now! – 5/10

also, massively appreciative of the Mountain Goats wiki, who has all this info laid out cleanly and linked together, saving me a ton of scrubbing through discogs or wikipedia. ive used them for some previous releases, as they track John Darnielle’s comments at live shows or in liner notes on these tracks, which is fantastic. there are some really funny ones from this collection, so i recommend checking out their pages for these tracks.

next week, we check out the second of the compilations, Bitter Melon Farm.

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: New Asian Cinema | next: Bitter Melon Farm

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats