Independent Record Label
Hello and welcome again to more of me talking about the mountain goats! We still have a lot to cover so let's begin with...
1997: Full Force Galesburg
This fourth studio album was predominantly back to the old routine of John singing and playing guitar alone into a Panasonic RX-FT500 boom box, following the departure of Rachel Ware. However, Peter Hughes, at the time of Nothing Painted Blue, provided some backing vocals and guitar work on several songs, marking this as his first appearance on a Mountain Goats album.
Standout track: Twin Human Highway Flares
2000: The Coroner’s Gambit
This album was produced entirely by John and his boom box, aside from a few songs when due to mechanical faults that would later kill said boom box, he used a 4-track. It was released on the label Absolutely Kosher, and is one of the last lo-fi albums produced by the Mountain Goats to date.
Standout track: Family Happiness
2002: All Hail West Texas
This was the actual last lo-fi record produced by the Mountain Goats. It was recorded entirely by John and his previously-dead Panasonic that somehow shuddered back into life for the recording of this album, before dying once more for good. Or so the legend goes. He probably just threw it away afterwards. Regardless, the album was rereleased in 2013, when it was selected as the best reissue by Pitchfork, receiving a 9/10 review. There were originally 15 outtakes from this record that John had planned to release for free at a later date, but these were destroyed after Gothenburg was leaked.
Standout track: The Mess Inside
2002 again: Tallahassee
Tallahassee will always hold a special place in my heart as being the first Mountain Goats album I ever listened to, and a special place in my mind as being an album entirely centred around an unloving couple permanently on the self-destructive brink of divorce. This album marked a stark change in the recording process of the Mountain Goats. Although this was their 7th studio album, it was also their first album professionally recorded in an actual studio. It was also released on a larger (but still independent) label, 4AD. It tells the ending of the tale of the Alpha Couple, a pair of characters that cropped up fairly frequently in John’s songs until their death at the end of this album in Alpha Rat’s Nest.
Standout track: No Children
2004: We Shall All Be Healed
Another first for the Mountain Goats, We Shall All Be Healed featured semi-autobiographical song content. Every previous recording had been entirely fictitious narratives; however, this record draws on John’s teenage years and the period of time he spent as a meth addict in California and Portland. John stated that he the urge to write songs about his “heavy druggie past” came about from people having an image of him as “squeaky-clean John” and how disconnected that felt to how he viewed himself.
Standout track: The Young Thousands
2005: The Sunset Tree
Their 9th studio album, The Sunset Tree, was released yet again on the 4AD label. It is arguably one of their most loved albums to date. Lyrically, the content is a little heavy. This is a straight autobiographical album, detailing the abuse that John experienced as a child at the hands of his step-father. It features a mixture of defiant songs such as ‘This Year’ or ‘Up the Wolves’, a song that John has described as “about triumph over the adversary”. It also features a mixture of the kind of heart crushing songs that the Mountain Goats are most well-known for, such as ‘Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?’ or ‘Pale Green Things’.
Standout Track: Love Love Love
Yet again I have too much to say here, so check back next week for the thrilling conclusion of my endless Mountain Goats knowledge
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