The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

Rating: ★★★½☆

I can’t tell you how many albums I actually own by The Mountain Goats, the moniker of songwriter John Darnielle; I can say that its quite a few, including some early collections of demos. All I can say about Transcendental Youth, however, is that it’s a record that sounds more complete than anything he’s done to date, featuring careful musical accompaniment that wasn’t always present before.

Our newest affair with The Mountain Goats begins with a heavy-strummed track, “Ana aka Spent Gladiator 1.”  It’s a track that uses John’s traditional lyrical fare, encouraging his protagonist to push on despite various trials.  What I personally enjoyed here is the song’s heavy-handed approach, as if it’s more of a rock tune than the intimate numbers Darnielle’s composed for years. Interestingly, it fits thematically with “Spent Gladiator 2,” which deals with the same idea of fighting for survival in the world.  But, this tune is more of a softer track, made more beautiful by a sparingly used piano.

While the songs on Transcendental Youth largely deal with man’s struggle to face the challenges of life, the music goes back and forth between the intimate songs and more powerful numbers.  “Lakeside View Apartment Suite” revolves around a solid piano backbone, providing the feeling of solitude one would get if they were to play the role of the lead in this track.  There’s additional fleshing out of the song too, with drums joining in to give an extra bit of bounce to the song.  Still, the high points on the record go even further in depth with their additional accompaniment.

“Cry for Judas” uses a combination of The Mountain Goats traditional guitar strumming, rolling drum beat and a full horn section.  It’s one of the fullest songs I’ve heard from Darnielle and company, illustrating that while he has a penchant for the intimate touch, he’s continually growing his sound after all these years.  It also gives an emphatic boost to the record’s pacing, much like “The Diaz Brothers” does. Here, the pounding piano and handclap addition, along with some incredibly inspired drumming, gives the whole feel of Transcendental Youth more spirit that what I’ve seen before. Even when dealing with tracks about such lonesome figures, the bright-side of life is alluded to in both the album’s title and the spirit of the songs within.

For all intents and purposes, this is very much a typical Mountain Goats record.  It’s typified by Darnielles unique voice, both as a lyricist and vocalist, but the album is strengthened by full sound, featuring horns and more active drumming.  In doing so, it’s taken what is always a very intimate listening experience and given it a facelift, leaving you with a Transcendental Youth that is both personal and affecting.  Already a fan of the group, I’ve enjoyed this record immensely, and I’m curious to see where Darnielle takes himself next.


Download:The Mountain Goats – Cry for Judas [MP3]

ATH Presents: Those Darlins @ The Mohawk + Giveaway

Man have we got a deal for you!  Again we’re working with the excellent folks over at Transmission to present this killer show at the Mohawk featuring Those Darlins.  Their last album, Screws Get Loose, was a winning effort, so you can expect the trio to bring their girl-pop rock n’ roll to the Mohawk on October 7th.  They’ll be playing with local boys/girls, Bobby Jealousy, but what’s more important is the information that follow:

We’re giving away a pair of tickets and a 7″ to two lucky winners.  The contest will close next Thursday, and it’s easy to win.  Just drop  a line with your favorite album of the year, and we’ll pick two folks (one gets tickets, the other gets the 7″) who most closely align to us! Good luck!  Here’s one of the tracks from the featured 7″; it’s a Rockpile cover!

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New Psych Tune from Wooden Indian Burial Ground

One of the my favorite things about listening to psych rock, at least as it stands today, is the way the lyrics are sometimes delivered–sort of brought to you by angst ridden Halloween heroes.  That’s the feeling I get when I listen to this new tune from Wooden Indian Burial Ground, who I’ve recently taken a liking to.  Musically, they sound similar to the jams that Thee Oh Sees might toss out in a live setting, using cutting guitar solos and screaming walls of feedback.  This is definitely more forceful than a lot of the psych fare out there, which might be just the reason I’m digging it so much. They’re debut self-titled album is out October 30th via Mon Amie.


Download:Wooden Indian Burial Ground – Sparklerella [MP3]

New Electro-Pop Jamz From Still Corners

Just found this gem of a tune “Fireflies” coming from Sub Pop beauty Still Corners and had to share.  I dig the electronic 80s style vibe, but of course the sultry vocals are what really seal the deal for me.  What can I say, we ATH kids have a weakness for the vocal ladies.

The song is part of a 7″ single coming your way on October 26th via Sub Pop Records.


Download: Still Corners – Fireflies [MP3]

I Love This Song By Blackbird Blackbird

This is a gem. If M83’s tour bus hit “a” Caribou. If Chill Wave weren’t so Chill.

Blackbird Blackbird has upped this track to the internet, a track called “All”, and I love it. It gets the played-twice-in-a-row award. It gets the instant add to the evening playlist. Drawn vocal, drifting backgrounds of plinks and drops, a guitarish hook running, instrumental finish – can’t wait for the EP. Lavish Habits will release the Boracay Planet EP 10/16.

Check out the video here, it was a kickstarter project.

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Natural Child – Hard in Heaven

Rating: ★★★★☆

After catching Natural Child several times over the last year, I’ll gladly say I’m a huge fan of their live sets.  I was hoping that they’d capture that raw intensity on their latest effort, Hard in Heaven, and for the most part they do push that onto listeners. But, when they decide to hold back and slow it down, just a touch, it might just make the record more enjoyable through and through.

When I pressed play the first time, I got exactly what I wanted with “Laid, Paid, and Strange.”  It begins with a furious guitar riff, and the group’s two man approach to vocal delivery snaking their way through lyrics about, well, getting laid and making money. They even add a crunchy guitar solo mid-track just to keep it interesting.  “Rock Bottom” bangs in next featuring fuzzed out guitar stomping and guitar soloing as the rhythm section pounds out a groove that definitely fuels the live energy of the trio.

Then they mix it up, slowing things down for a few, though the next tracks are actually growing to be some of my favorites. “What You Gonna Do” is almost a garage rock ballad, but it’s even slower, with the bass work stealing the show throughout.  And those wild vocals, from the earlier tracks, sounds smoother and polished, in just the right spots–these guys can do it all!  The title track from Hard in Heaven isn’t even close to a ballad; it’s a long, drawn out blue-y jam with some quieted vocals just walking longingly through the song.  Listening to this track will definitely give you more appreciation for the group’s abilities as musicians; there’s not to many people doing it up this way anymore.

And then Natural Child is back at it again with “B$G P$MP$N.”  Sure, the lyrics are sort of juvenile, but it’s clear just listening to the song that the band is having a blast just banging songs like this one out. This is the sort of song that has made these guys so endearing live; they’re passionate, no matter what they’re doing on stage, and I can appreciate that.  Still, the rest of the record is full of more surprises that show the band evening out their sound throughout Hard in Heaven.

“Derek’s Blues” nears the end of the record with a Soutuhern rock influenced jam that nears 6 minutes.  It’s almost like a party rock type, but for those that like to drown their sorrows and good times in cases of beer and bottles of whiskey.  Or there’s the group sing-a-long that ends the record, “Let the Good Times Roll.”  It still has a playful lyrical approach, but even then, there’s a classic storytelling aspect to what their doing.  The song’s mostly a guitar strummed affair, but it’s got bits and pieces of that new Natural Child flare, making it another pleasant winner that keeps me playing the record all the way through.

I guess some might be taken aback at first by this new Natural Child.  But, you can see their mark all over the record, even when they break out a blue-influenced jam.  They’re never going to take themselves too serious, and we all benefit from that. Hard in Heaven isn’t as balls to the wall as I wanted it to be, but after getting to spend some quality time with the album, I’m glad it’s not.  This version sounds more complete than what I had in my head, and I base that on the group’s ability to balance their sound from start to finish, leaving you with a refreshing amalgam of garage, punk, blues, and Southern rock that you won’t want to put down.


Download:Natural Child – B$G P$MP$N [MP3]

More New Music from Peace

This new single from Peace is really something special to listen to in its entirety.  For the first two minutes (plus) the song builds with intricate guitar play before Dan’s hauntingly deep vocals cooly join in on the fun.  While the guitars seem to move in and out, the vocals keep steady hold of the pacing for the track…and then it all breaks down into a raucous stomp in the end, with faintly shouted vocals, then rinsed and repeated.  This is just another jam off their upcoming album, The World Is Too Much With Us, which is being put out by Suicide Squeeze on October 8th.


Download:Peace – Tattoo [MP3]

New Gem from Isle

I was doing some Internet browsing last night, as it has been rather a slow week for new music creeping up, and I came upon this gem run the other day on IGIF.  This tune comes from Flordians, Isle, who’ve crafted this spectacular dream pop gem that’s really won me over.  The only thing sad about this tune is that its the only one the group have available at the moment, but if they’re taking their time to craft majestic slow pop tunes like the one featured below, then I’ll wait patiently for more special goodness.


Download:Isle – Bayview [MP3]

Show Preview: Cate Le Bon @ Red 7 (9.29)

Date Saturday, September 29th
Location Red 7
Doors 900 PM
Tickets $10 from Transmission

For those of you fortunate enough to have caught St. Vincent last year at ACL Live, I hope you caught the beautiful songstress that is Cate Le Bon.  Personally, the Welsh musician enthralled me more than the headliner, but that’s just personal taste.  I’ve since been able to enjoy her CYRK album, and the CYRK II piece that accompanied it.  Although she I last caught her standing solo on stage, her presence was much larger, encouraging me to write the praise that I leave you with now.  Get there early to catch Troller, the opening act, who will help set the tone for the evening.


Download:Cate Le Bon – What Is Worse [MP3]

Track From Crystal Castles

The new album comes out in November. They will play ACL on Sunday at 7:30pm.

Crystal Castles has released this diddy to the internets. It is one of those sweeping gothic things they do with a nice backdrop of danceable electro. Download link in the embed, dig it.

Expect the Honda stage to be packed with your friends as I think they are up against Randy Rogers and Childish Gambino.

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