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  -  Mountain Goats, The - Transcendental Youth (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2914112)

Kelly Doherty 10/07/12 12:45 PM

Mountain Goats, The - Transcendental Youth
 
The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth
Record Label: Merge Records
Release Date: October 2, 2012


John Darnielle is a legend. He has made his way through twenty one years, fourteen albums, and numerous record labels with his musical baby, The Mountain Goats. Whilst you probably won’t see Mr Darnielle lighting up the charts or conquering the critics with his indie folk, you will find him entertaining his usually diehard fans with his unique blend of often humorous yet lyrically dark yet foot tap inspiring songs. Transcendental Youth certainly doesn’t end this trend. Despite his recently discovered domestic bliss, Darnielle is just as darkly witty as ever, and despite his 45 years on this earth, he sounds as passionate and wide-eyed as they come on an album that’s basically about staying alive.

Opener “Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1” gets the record off to a delightful start. Opening line, “Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive / Do every stupid thing to try to drive the dark away” sets the tone for the album with it’s double-edged optimism, a common lyrical approach throughout the release. Musically, it’s a little bit of a return to their early, lo-fi sound with it’s acoustic guitar and low production. Definitely a contender for a single, it’s as catchy as they come. Second track, “Lakeside View Apartments Suite” is a little more subdued and holds quite a lot in common with something you’d hear from Sufjan Stevens. Mainly piano, it features some more if Darnielle’s great lyrics “You’re not the judge/ You can’t judge us’ is an example, with Darnielle’s lyrics being seemingly simple, yet somehow poignant. Honestly, if anyone other than Darnielle was singing lyrics such as “Every dream's a good dream/ even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right” or “I hide down in my corner/ because I like my corner” it could come across as trite or cheesy, however his trademark nasal vocals sound so genuine, so endearing that you can’t help but believe in what he’s saying.

So, the lyrics are perfect, but what else is there? Instrumentally, despite its stripped back opener, the album is a mainly a continuation of The Mountain Goats’ recent polished sound. Lead single “Cry For Judas” is a delight, with its upbeat acoustic guitars and brass section. Darnielle’s charismatic delivery is the same as ever and his vocals have changed very little. “White Cedar” could do with less orchestration, as it runs the risk of sounding a little like it’s trying too hard to sound sophisticated, however, at large each track hits the spot, and the alternation between sparse acoustic tracks and piano/trumpet/whatever-the-hell-he-felt-like led tracks actually works to make the album all the more coherent, as it prevents the album from getting boring and shows both sides of The Mountain Goats arsenal.

The album is hushed out by the beautiful self-titled track. The longest on the release, it’s an excellent, heart warming yet slightly depressing ending, to an excellent, heart warming yet slightly depressing album. This is an album about maintaining yourself and not just surviving, but making the best of what you’ve got when life has gone to hell, and it certainly makes you want to survive. The characters created are steeped in loneliness, self-hatred and loss, and Darnielle's narratives about drug addiction and death make this record all the more broken and beautiful.

Overall, Transcendental Youth is the sound of a band that love what they do, aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Filled with some of the best lyrics you’ll hear this year, this is a record that will delight the diehards, but will hopefully gain them new fans. And remember “The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you're never going to see again”.

Recommended If You LikeSufjan Stevens; Andrew Bird; depression; happiness


Additional InformationTrack Listing
1. Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1
2. Lakeside View Apartments Suite
3. Cry For Judas
4. Harlem Roulette
5. White Cedar
6. Until I Am Whole
7. Night Light
8. The Diaz Brothers
9. Counterfeit Florida Plates
10. In Memory Of Satan
11. Spent Gladiator 2
12. Transcendental Youth

Band Members
John Darnielle
Peter Hughes
Jon Wurster

8.75/10

Official Website
Facebook

JamieTheSonger 10/07/12 01:37 PM

Great review, man. 10 for lyrics is well deserved. This record is too relevant to my life, I get scared that I'm on a reality show where everyone watches me

Jeff_Ryan 10/07/12 01:47 PM

Just listened to this again about an hour ago

I definitely prefer it to All Eternals Deck. It's amazing how consistent his work is

MasterKenobi 10/07/12 02:33 PM

Definitely picking this one up, great review

get up kidd 10/07/12 02:55 PM

Really enjoying this record a lot

themagicrat 10/07/12 07:40 PM

I love this band, I love this record. I'm always impressed with how quickly he can turn out such great records, it's kind of ridiculous.

Steeeve Perry 10/07/12 08:52 PM

Honestly, if anyone other than Darnielle was singing lyrics such as “Every dream's a good dream/ even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right” or “I hide down in my corner/ because I like my corner” it could come across as trite or cheesy, however his trademark nasal vocals sound so genuine, so endearing that you can’t help but believe in what he’s saying.

This seems awfully close to being lifted from the Pitchfork review and then simplified...

("I hide down in my corner, because I like my corner," he seethes on opening cut of his latest album, Transcendental Youth) stands a sizable and defiant distance from what's cool. His songs hinge upon lines ("Every dream's a good dream, even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right") that would run the risk of sounding like the inspirational posters that lined the walls of your 9th grade English teacher's classroom if Darnielle delivered them with anything less than the tenacity of a rabid dog playing tug-of-war for the last bone on earth.

IceAge/HeatWave 10/07/12 09:40 PM

Kelly, i'm glad we are friends. great review, even better album. definitely top 2 of the year for me.

Jeremy Aaron 10/08/12 06:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steeeve Perry (Post 113946412)
Honestly, if anyone other than Darnielle was singing lyrics such as “Every dream's a good dream/ even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right” or “I hide down in my corner/ because I like my corner” it could come across as trite or cheesy, however his trademark nasal vocals sound so genuine, so endearing that you can’t help but believe in what he’s saying.

This seems awfully close to being lifted from the Pitchfork review and then simplified...

("I hide down in my corner, because I like my corner," he seethes on opening cut of his latest album, Transcendental Youth) stands a sizable and defiant distance from what's cool. His songs hinge upon lines ("Every dream's a good dream, even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right") that would run the risk of sounding like the inspirational posters that lined the walls of your 9th grade English teacher's classroom if Darnielle delivered them with anything less than the tenacity of a rabid dog playing tug-of-war for the last bone on earth.


Sooooo, two people listening to the same album can't come to similar conclusions? If everyone scoured the web to make sure that thoughts similar to theirs hadn't already been expressed in a review posted somewhere, there would be a lot less reviewing going on. And to be completely fair, one of these attributes Darnielle's ability to pull the songs off to his "tenacity" and the other to his vocal quality, and there's not a single descriptor in the first paragraph that appears in the second, and vice versa.

Kelly Doherty 10/08/12 02:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steeeve Perry (Post 113946412)
Honestly, if anyone other than Darnielle was singing lyrics such as “Every dream's a good dream/ even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right” or “I hide down in my corner/ because I like my corner” it could come across as trite or cheesy, however his trademark nasal vocals sound so genuine, so endearing that you can’t help but believe in what he’s saying.

This seems awfully close to being lifted from the Pitchfork review and then simplified...

("I hide down in my corner, because I like my corner," he seethes on opening cut of his latest album, Transcendental Youth) stands a sizable and defiant distance from what's cool. His songs hinge upon lines ("Every dream's a good dream, even awful dreams are good dreams if you're doing it right") that would run the risk of sounding like the inspirational posters that lined the walls of your 9th grade English teacher's classroom if Darnielle delivered them with anything less than the tenacity of a rabid dog playing tug-of-war for the last bone on earth.

Are these lyrics not fairly prominent lyrics? As Jeremy has said, we comment on completely different things, the only similarity is the fact that we quote on the same lyrics. I'm pretty sure simplification is not talking about a completely different thing in a completely different way.

Also, copying Pitchfork? Dude. Who does that?

Out of wonder, have you listened to this record?

hollywoodchase 10/08/12 07:56 PM

I like your review Kelly! I'm a long-time fan of The Mountain Goats and an English teacher, and I appreciate your style and care for the material. There's no "but," I greatly enjoyed this review. Phuck the h8ers! Keep writing!

Steeeve Perry 10/08/12 11:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kelly Doherty (Post 113969562)
Are these lyrics not fairly prominent lyrics? As Jeremy has said, we comment on completely different things, the only similarity is the fact that we quote on the same lyrics. I'm pretty sure simplification is not talking about a completely different thing in a completely different way.

Also, copying Pitchfork? Dude. Who does that?

Out of wonder, have you listened to this record?

I should have been clearer but did not want to be long winded. I wasn't trying to imply you had ripped off the Pitchfork review, moreso that it was a real coincidence. And I didn't feel as though you were commenting on something "completely different", since the P4k review used the lyrics to say if they had come from someone else they would not have the same impact, which is how I read your words as well. Sorry if it came across like an accusation.
I have listened to almost the whole record. I'm not a massive fan of Mountain Goats but I'm a sucker for great lyricists. I think it's the Mountain Goats' best (that I've heard) apart from The Life of the World to Come which, like much religious lyricism -- Separation Sunday is one of my favourite albums ever -- really piqued my interests, despite me being an atheist. The s/t track stood out for me, but I enjoyed every son I've heard. All via Youtube at this point, a few views each.

Steeeve Perry 10/08/12 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeremy Aaron (Post 113951092)
Sooooo, two people listening to the same album can't come to similar conclusions? If everyone scoured the web to make sure that thoughts similar to theirs hadn't already been expressed in a review posted somewhere, there would be a lot less reviewing going on. And to be completely fair, one of these attributes Darnielle's ability to pull the songs off to his "tenacity" and the other to his vocal quality, and there's not a single descriptor in the first paragraph that appears in the second, and vice versa.

Two peolpe reviewing an album could very easily come to the same conclusions. Every review of The Queen is Dead should mention Morrisey's lyrics are humorous and entertaining in a self-loathing but sharp way, and Johnny Marr's jangly guitar work holds every song togther. If two reviews both quoted "Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head" and "To die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die" within the same paragraph, it would become more of a coincidence. To quote a third TQID lyric, "Don't plagiarise or take on loan". And, as I just explained to Kelly, it was not my intention to accuse her of doing as such. I feel any time someone finds something written on here to be a little curious they should point it out. If, one day, it turns out a staffer did want to copy another person's work, such comments could prove to be a deterrant and even save the credibility of the site.

Jeremy Aaron 10/09/12 08:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steeeve Perry (Post 113995282)
Two peolpe reviewing an album could very easily come to the same conclusions. Every review of The Queen is Dead should mention Morrisey's lyrics are humorous and entertaining in a self-loathing but sharp way, and Johnny Marr's jangly guitar work holds every song togther. If two reviews both quoted "Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head" and "To die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die" within the same paragraph, it would become more of a coincidence. To quote a third TQID lyric, "Don't plagiarise or take on loan". And, as I just explained to Kelly, it was not my intention to accuse her of doing as such. I feel any time someone finds something written on here to be a little curious they should point it out. If, one day, it turns out a staffer did want to copy another person's work, such comments could prove to be a deterrant and even save the credibility of the site.


I've also seen "The loneliest people in the whole wide world..." and "do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive" quoted in most other reviews for the album. They're memorable and writers are going to gravitate toward that. This isn't a piece of original academic research or investigative reporting. It's just an opinion. The web is now, for better or worse, one big forum for opinion sharing. Almost everyone is a participant in providing content rather than just consuming. The end result is that there are very few, if any, truly original ideas, particularly in music writing. Common source material, limitations of language, and the concept and conventions of what a review is naturally constrain the contents of a piece. It's not anyone's responsibility to point out things that look "curious" to them (especially in this case, when the only thing in common is the source material and none, not any, of the language is the same or even similar), because the parallels are just inevitable. Because others have commented that, for example, The Gaslight Anthem sounds like Springsteen, are they alone entitled to that opinion and no one else can express it? Of course not. An accurate portrayal of their music would necessarily mention this. The fact that Darnielle's lyrics would sound overly earnest coming from another singer but genuine coming from him is similarly a sort of defining characteristic of the band. One would fault the reviewer for not expressing it in some way. Are we to suppress giving honest assessments out of fear that IP expert Steeeve Perry will find our thoughts derivative of someone else?

Steeeve Perry 10/10/12 03:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeremy Aaron (Post 114002402)
I've also seen "The loneliest people in the whole wide world..." and "do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive" quoted in most other reviews for the album. They're memorable and writers are going to gravitate toward that. This isn't a piece of original academic research or investigative reporting. It's just an opinion. The web is now, for better or worse, one big forum for opinion sharing. Almost everyone is a participant in providing content rather than just consuming. The end result is that there are very few, if any, truly original ideas, particularly in music writing. Common source material, limitations of language, and the concept and conventions of what a review is naturally constrain the contents of a piece. It's not anyone's responsibility to point out things that look "curious" to them (especially in this case, when the only thing in common is the source material and none, not any, of the language is the same or even similar), because the parallels are just inevitable. Because others have commented that, for example, The Gaslight Anthem sounds like Springsteen, are they alone entitled to that opinion and no one else can express it? Of course not. An accurate portrayal of their music would necessarily mention this. The fact that Darnielle's lyrics would sound overly earnest coming from another singer but genuine coming from him is similarly a sort of defining characteristic of the band. One would fault the reviewer for not expressing it in some way. Are we to suppress giving honest assessments out of fear that IP expert Steeeve Perry will find our thoughts derivative of someone else?

I've already told Kelly I wasn't trying to imply she had plagiarised, just that what she wrote was similar. If it was me, and I had seen the P4k review, I would have thought it sounded similar and picked a different lyric set, but she's the reviewer (and did a great job) and I'm just an IP expert sent to drive fear into well-meaning opinion writers throughout the interwebs. I'm glad you took this opportunity to stand up for online reviewers everywhere, your medal is in the mail.