hello folks! today’s record has a very interesting story – just before the 2020 lockdowns for Covid, the band had been in the studio and John Darnielle had been reading The Last of the Pagans by Pierre Chuvin. he talked in the lead up and liner notes to this record that the book was inspiring him to write in a way that had resulted in the songs about the classics in older Mountain Goats records, so when the economy shut down he had the idea to make this tape as a way to bridge the band’s income. this is the first solo tapedeck record since All Hail West Texas, and the name references an older TMG tradition of naming songs or releases after the person they were written for.

Aulon Raid is a very nice opening track – i like the bits of recording dialogue that was kept on this record, and having it START with a bit like that is a phenomenal touch. especially good way to establish the theme of the record, describing a failed attempt to destroy a pagan temple, from the perspective of the defending pagans. a bit quiet and understated, but appropriate. speaking that recording dialogue, Until Olympius Returns starts with a very fun one, referencing a gap in the previous recording of the song. all hail the mysterious gap indeed. really really like this, about waiting quietly for rebellion. Last Gasp at Calama is about feeling the winds of change coming, about the good times coming to their twilight. i really like the line “let he who’s without sin throw the first one, like you said / let anyone throw the second, as long as it connects with your head”. phenomenal. For the Snakes is about appreciating things for their flaws, appreciating things past their time. nice, tender song. The Wooded Hills Along the Black Sea is a much quieter track – it uses an accompaniment that in style reminds me a lot of Blues In Dallas. January 31, 438 is another definite fave on the record, a clear kick ass song. i really love Darnielle’s vocal delivery on this song, especially on the first verse. Hopeful Assassins of Zeno is a track about living undercover. neat song. Their Gods Do Not Have Surgeons is a very somber greiving song, about the things lost to conquering forces. Going to Lebanon 2’s title reference a track from the first record i listened to as a part of this project, Zopilote Machine. really enjoy the the very tense guitar here. i like Exegetic Chains – there are a bunch of references to old Mountain Goats songs, and i really only caught the callback to This Year. i also appreciate that this has the sane kind of reflective nature on a closing track as Absolute Lithops Effect.

faves – Until Olympius Returns, Last Gasp at Calama, January 31, 438, Going to Lebanon 2

yeah this was a fun release. it’s tightly themed, given the inspiration, but i like that it dabbles in the same kind of topics that Transcendental Youth or Goths – this record is about pagans, sure, but its also about minority cultures in a developing, aggressive, and frequently hostile larger cultural ecosystem. there is a chance here that i’m appreciating the aesthetic and reading the tracks generously, and i dont think this one is every gonna blow me out of the water but ask me again in a year how i feel about it and i expect ill have some additional thoughts, haha.

Songs for Pierre Chuvin – 8/10

foe the next record, i’m really Getting Into Knives!

support the band by checking this album out on Bandcamp!

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: In League With Dragons | next: Getting Into Knives

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats