Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

I usually don't write about non-metal releases. However, I've really enjoyed this album, so I'm going to talk about it anyway. About a year ago I got a pre-release copy of this album from my college radio station. I set it down and for a while I forgot about it, but in the past few days I've picked it back up and found myself listening to it repeatedly.

The Mountain Goats are an indie band with just one real member, and "they" have been recording since the early 90s. This is the first album of by them that I've personally heard, but I expect I'll be looking for more soon.

This album is, though generally within the indie-folk vein, fairly diverse. Some tracks are pretty much indie pop/rock. Others are best described as "Dark Americana" (I don't know if that's a generally accepted term, but Full Metal Attorney has used it and I like the way it sounds). Others sound like what I imagine would result from the Grateful Dead covering Phil Ochs. Throughout, this definitely strikes me as a record hipsters probably really like. Despite that stigma (and yes, I do feel "hipster music" is a definite stigma) this was a rare album in that vein which I walked away from feeling extremely pleased with the experience. The changes of pace keep the album from blurring together by refocusing the listener's attention every few minutes. The lyrics are intelligent and effective while managing to stop just an eyelash short of pretentious. The structure of the music itself had that experimental indie vibe without losing the fundamental listenability of a good singer-songwriter. Most importantly, it all came together in a cohesive package: I found myself drawn in by almost every song.

Grade: A
I liked this album better than any other non-metal release I've heard in the past year.


  1. I picked up the term "dark Americana" from Cosmo Lee. I haven't found it in a lot of places, but I have found a Wikipedia article for "Gothic Americana". Here is the whole article: "Gothic Americana is a style of alternative country that fuses Americana music (neotraditional country, progressive country, outlaw country, country rock, rockabilly, folk rock, bluegrass music, blues, rhythm and blues) with elements of gothic rock, gothabilly, psychobilly, deathcountry. The main representatives of that music are the musicians of Denver music scene: 16 Horsepower, Wovenhand, Lilium, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Jay Munly, as well as other American (Willard Grant Conspiracy, Reverend Red) or even European bands (Helldorado)."

    I have found myself absolutely loving Wovenhand, and I've slowly been looking into others, such as the Wovenhand guy's previous band 16 Horsepower. I've also been tentatively going into a larger world of dark folk music outside Americana, like Hexvessel (which I reviewed last March, I think).

    Anyway, I think they reviewed this in Decibel, if I remember correctly. I may have to check it out.

  2. OK, I checked into this, and I honestly couldn't get through one song. I wouldn't call this "dark Americana." It's Americana, to be sure, but it has an indie rock aspect to it that I just can't stand.

    You really should look into 16 Horsepower's Sackcloth 'n' Ashes. That's precisely what the term means, to me.

  3. I think I really only had one or two songs in mind when I used that term, and you're absolutely right that it's got an indie rock thing going on. My warnings of "hipster music" were, I believe, pretty accurate.

    I rarely actually enjoy this kind of stuff, but for some reason I really liked this album, which is perhaps why I rated it so highly. A reaction born from surprise, I think.

  4. Well, more power to you. I couldn't get past myself to enjoy it.