La Sera - Break My Heart

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Just Under a Thousand Words on the New Mountain Goats Album

Thankfully I still have a few bands that raise my pulse rate when I hear about new records in the works.  The Mountain Goats are definitely one of those bands.  John Darnielle posted at length yesterday about their upcoming new release on their website.  It promises to be sublime as always.  Read on:

July 9, 2012
So a simplified timeline of how it went down looks like this: All Eternals Deck came out in March of last year and we toured a whole lot, and midway through all that I came home to celebrate the results of the second ultrasound with Lalitree. June came around so we hied us to the west coast, but first we stopped in Minneapolis, because who doesn't love Minneapolis, and we played a show and Brandon and me shared a room like we always do, and at one point Brandon went out into the hall to talk on the phone to his family and I had an idea for a song so I started working on it, and the narrator turned out to be a person who felt lost and alone and only partially able to keep it together. He was living alone in the Pacific Northwest, and he was fighting the urge to just stop fighting at all, and I recognized his voice because, one, I used to work with a lot of people who spent long seasons in that guy's shoes, and two, I have also been that guy. Who hasn't, if not north of Portland during the rainy season then elsewhere, lost and desperate and trying to swim to the surface?

That song was called "Until I Am Whole," and I played it for Brandon and we both felt like it was touching on some themes I'd circled but never set my claws fully into. So I kept writing through the summer, and in August the baby was born and I'd cradle him in my left arm while writing melodies at the piano with my right, and I said, let Osiris the keeper of the gates be my witness, other songwriters may go soft when they get to be parents but I am going to keep going all the way down into the inner darkness, it will set a good example for the baby, and besides, what am I going to do, suddenly start writing songs about cute things instead of songs about how to wrest cries of triumph from the screaming places? Please. May the baby grow up to spit in my face if I should pose that hard.

Some of the songs I sent to Owen Pallett to arrange for the Transcendental Youth program I did with Anonymous 4 in the spring; meanwhile Peter & Jon & I worked some of the band arrangements out onstage through spring, which is something I'd stopped doing, playing new songs live before tracking them. Shouldn't have ever stopped doing that by the way. Playing new songs rules. These arrangements & performances opened up the songs for me and showed me things about them, and when we hit the studio, I had a plan that was broad enough to let everybody contribute his own voice (a big thing with me; I kind of don't believe in the One Dude Telling Everybody What To Do model of album-making) but focused enough to keep dragging the songs by their hair back to the central point of the record, which has to do with whether anybody has the right to tell people whether their visions are sick or not. Spoiler alert, absolutely nobody has that right, what makes me broken also makes me whole, that is how it works and it's like striking gold when you find that out so keep digging, don't even get me started.

We spent a week recording at Overdub Lane. Brandon Eggleston produced and Matthew E. White did horn arrangements, and afterwards Scott Solter mixed it at Baucom Road, and then I called up Aeron Alfrey from the Satanic Messiah sleeve and he did a new original painting that completely knocks me out and that brings us to the present. The album's called Transcendental Youth, and it's coming out October 2nd on Merge and right around the same time on Tomlab in the UK & Europe and on Moorworks in Japan and on Remote Control in Australia & New Zealand, and I've been getting letters from South America so I'm doing what I can to get it released there. On this last tour that I just got home from, I went into Cloud City with Brandon and recorded four more songs by myself directly to 1/2" tape without overdubs, and from those four, two will be cut directly from the tape to a 7". The first pre-orders of the album will come with a copy of this 7", whose songs will probably be available digitally before long; the actual vinyl single, though, will be the end-point of a truly live all-analog chain that was never converted at any point to ones and zeroes, which as one of Those Guys makes me ridiculously happy. I will tell you more about these two songs later on: one was written for the album but never tracked, the other's been around in half-finished form for a while and finally got the bridge & last verse it deserves.

So that's what I've got. I cannot wait for everybody to hear what we've done this time. It is kind of a family effort for us: the four of us who spend half the year in a tour van together are the four who went into the studio to play & record songs whose choruses grew from things scrawled in notebooks in the back of the van and occasional demos recorded in hotel rooms between tour stops. We will be touring this fall until we run out of places to go or the winged serpent returns, whichever comes first. Here is the tracklisting for the album. I will see you in October!

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