Mar 302011
Authors: Nic Turiciano

I once stalked Death Cab for Cutie’s guitarist through Mesa, Ariz. It was the peak of my obsession with the band that I worshipped during my high school years.

While the Mountain Goats’ rise was before my time, it isn’t lost on me that they were a band to cling to, a band to soundtrack adolescence. There’s a good chance I would have stalked John Darnielle through Mesa if I had been born in the beginning of the 1980s instead of the end.

My fascination with DCFC died a few years ago. I blame them for making bad music. Others would say that the band and I simply grew apart. It’s a story that many of my friends echo regarding the group they idolized.

The Mountain Goats, however, have grown with their audience. While contributors come and go and the sonics and writing material change, the essence of the band has always remained.

John Darnielle’s songwriting –– specifically his lyricism –– is the nucleus of every song. His content has changed over the Mountain Goats’ 20 years of activity, but the quality of his writing is always among the best.

On Estate Sale Sign, “All Eternals Deck’s” most forceful track, Darnielle’s voice cracks, “High above the water, the eagle spots the fish. Every martyr in this jungle is gonna get his wish.” Lines like this, which are everywhere on the album, show how effective a writer Darnielle is.

As with all Mountain Goats material, the album is somewhat inaccessible. There aren’t many choruses and the sounds aren’t ‘dynamic’ by anyone’s standard.

It takes a big chunk of your attention to juice the songs of their reward, but that’s what the Mountain Goats have been doing for years. This album simply proves they’re as good at it in 2011 as they were in 1991.

Nic Turiciano can’t hear you because his headphones are too loud. Email him at

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