The Mountain Goats


The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle (pictured) is a serious literary type whose songs, stretching back almost two decades, detail human failings, foibles, fears, feints, and fables, sometimes stripping emotion down to its wiring, exposing tragedies inherent in the mundane. For many years he recorded on a boombox, essentially shouting his lyrics over a strumming guitar like some housebound busker, but of late, including October's The Life of the World to Come, Darnielle's cultivated a more refined chamber-folk sound with a piano and the assistance of guitarist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster. Stark, powerful yet deceptively straightforward language renders riveting dramas, which on the new album take their titles from Bible verses and deal with spirituality while remaining skeptical of religion. Messianic power, death, resurrection, sacrifice for love, wandering in the wilderness, martyrdom, netherworlds, kidnapping, and impending apocalypse are all present with chilling effect, not so much as gospel as stuff likely to turn up in the tabloids. Opener Final Fantasy is in effect Canadian violinist-composer Owen Pallett, who has done string arrangements for the Goats' latest as well as for Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, and Beirut. Pallett's own stuff is sweeping, kaleidoscopic chamber pop that sounds like Brian Wilson playing with the Kronos Quartet in the Land of Oz. (Photo by attercop311)
Sat., Nov. 7, 8 p.m., 2009

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