The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride

February 21, 2008

John Darnielle is one of my favorite songwriters, so I treat one of his Mountain Goats releases as a musical event of the first order. I first became acquainted with his work via the album We Shall All Be Healed, where I was immediately taken with the elegant, literate folk rock contained therein. I was later amazed to find out that album was his eleventh release since 1995; Heretic Pride is number sixteen. On Jeffrey Lewis’ Website, you can find a promo for Heretic Pride in which Darnielle provides commentary for each song, their subject matter, how they came to be written, who he is playing with, etc., presented by Lewis in comic book form. It’s a nice look into his creative process, and it gives you a sense of the breadth of the interests that inform his work. On Heretic Pride, you’ll find songs that reference Sax Rohmer and H.P. Lovecraft, reggae star Prince Far I, as well as songs about Chinese lake monsters, a young unmarried couple giving birth in a motel, and even a song inspired by super-resistant bacteria. Darnielle started out recording with just him and a guitar, but you’ll find pretty varied instrumentation fleshing out his compositions. Even so, after the record is done, you may come away with an idea that this is still just Darnielle and his guitar, as the music is so intimate, immediate and just plain alive. If you are not acquainted with his work, Heretic Pride is as good a place to start as any. Standout cuts: “Sax Rohmer 1,” “San Bernadino,” “Autoclave” and “Lovecraft In Brooklyn.”


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