The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Mountain Goats

Background = group_or_band
Genre = Folk rock, Urban folk, Indie rock, Lo-fi
Years_active = 1991-present
Label = 4AD Records
Shrimper Records
Emperor Jones Records
3 Beads of Sweat Records
Associated_acts = The Congress, The Extra Glenns, The Seneca Twins, The Bloody Hawaiians, Nothing Painted Blue, Aesop Rock
Current_members = John Darnielle
Peter Hughes
Jon Wurster
Past_members = Rachel Ware

The Mountain Goats is a band led by American singer-songwriter John Darnielle.cite web | last = Nickey| first = Jason| authorlink = | title = The Mountain Goats: Biography| work = | publisher = Macrovision Corporation| date = 2008 | url =| accessdate = 2008-04-10] Darnielle began recording in 1991, and has become known for his highly literate lyrics and, until 2002, his lo-fi recording style. Currently, when the band plays live, it comprises John Darnielle and Peter Hughes, but Darnielle has worked with a number of other musicians when recording albums under the Mountain Goats name.cite web | authorlink = | title = the Mountain Goats FAQ| work = | publisher =| url =| accessdate = 2008-04-10] In 2007, drummer Jon Wurster played a portion of the "Get Lonely" tour.


In 1991, Darnielle began performing under the name The Mountain Goats in Claremont, California, where he attended Pitzer College and worked as a psychiatric nurse. The band's name is a reference to the Screamin' Jay Hawkins song "Yellow Coat". Darnielle released his first album, "", on Shrimper Records. Many of his first recordings and performances featured Darnielle accompanied by members of the all-girl reggae band The Casual Girls, who became known as The Bright Mountain Choir. One of this group's members, Rachel Ware, continued to accompany Darnielle on bass, both live and in studio, until 1995.

The first five years of the Mountain Goats' career saw a prolific output of songs on cassette, vinyl and CD. These releases spanned multiple labels and countries of origin; many were unavailable to the majority of fans until recent reissues.

The focus of the Mountain Goats project was the urgency of writing (Brown, "Sermon on the Mount", June, 1999.). If a song weren’t recorded adequately to tape within days of being written it was often forgotten.

Darnielle graduated from Pitzer College in 1995. Most of what could be considered classic Mountain Goats conventions (boom-box recording, song series, Latin quotes, and mythological themes) were abandoned in favor of a more thematically focused and experimental sound. This period was marked by Darnielle's collaborations with other artists including Alastair Galbraith and Simon Joyner.

2002 saw the release of two Mountain Goats albums: "All Hail West Texas" and "Tallahassee". These albums mark a distinct change in focus for the Mountain Goats project, being the first in a series of concept albums that explore aspects of The Mountain Goats' canon in depth. "All Hail West Texas" featured the resurrection of Darnielle's early boom box recording for a complete album. Darnielle considers this album to be the culmination of his lo-fi recording style. "Tallahassee", recorded with a band and in a studio, explores the relationship of a couple whose lives were the subject of the song cycle known as the Alpha Series (see Alpha Series below for a full list of songs in this cycle).

"Martial Arts Weekend", also released in 2002 under the band name The Extra Glenns, is a collaboration with Franklin Bruno on several previously unreleased Mountain Goats songs. Since that recording, Bruno has joined Darnielle in the studio along with bassist Peter Hughes, who is the second official member of the band and accompanies Darnielle on tour. These three musicians form what may be considered the Mountain Goats studio band.

In 2004, the Mountain Goats released "We Shall All Be Healed". The album marked a couple of changes for the Mountain Goats. It was the first time Darnielle worked with producer John Vanderslice and the first album of directly autobiographical material. "We Shall All Be Healed" chronicles Darnielle's life with a group of friends and acquaintances addicted to methamphetamine in Portland, Oregon, though the album is set in Pomona, California.

In 2005, the Mountain Goats released their second Vanderslice-produced album, "The Sunset Tree". Again autobiographical, Darnielle tackles the subject of his early childhood spent with an abusive stepfather. Darnielle had previously dealt with this subject in what he often refers to as the only autobiographical song he had written before 2004, the unreleased song "You're in Maya."

In 2006, the Mountain Goats issued "Get Lonely", which was produced by Scott Solter, a man perhaps best known for his engineering work with Vanderslice on various projects, including prior Mountain Goats records. In 2007, Jon Wurster played drums on the last leg of the "Get Lonely" tour.

In 2007, the band recorded tracks for its next album at Prairie Sun studios. [ [ Mountain Goats Hatch Studio Plans -] ] Entitled "Heretic Pride", the album was released on February 19, 2008. [ The Mountain Goats | News Archive | High Heresy] ] It was produced by John Vanderslice and Scott Solter. Franklin Bruno and Erik Friedlander returned to the studio with Darnielle and Hughes, and they were also joined by Jon Wurster on drums and vocalist Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

On February 3, 2008, The Mountain Goats released a song called "Down to the Ark" that was commissioned by "Weekend America". [ [ Weekend America: The Mountain Goats do Super Tuesday] ]

On March 19, 2008, Darnielle posted on the band's website that their Australian tour would be canceled due to "personal health reasons". [ [ Australian Tour Canceled] ]

Darnielle is featured on Aesop Rock's song "Coffee" from the 2007 album "None Shall Pass". Aesop Rock also released a remix of the track "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" from the album "Heretic Pride".


* John Darnielle - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard
* Peter Hughes - Bass
* Jon Wurster - Percussion

Former members and collaborators

* Rachel Ware - bass (1992-1995)
* The Bright Mountain Choir
* The North Mass Mountain Choir
* Franklin Bruno - piano
* Lalitree Darnielle - banjo
* Alastair Galbraith
* John Vanderslice
* Erik Friedlander - cello
* Scott Solter
* Alex Decarville
* Richard Colburn - drums
* Christopher McGuire - drums
* Nora Danielson - violin



* "" - cassette (Shrimper, 1991)
* "The Hound Chronicles" - cassette (Shrimper, 1992)
* "Hot Garden Stomp" - cassette (Shrimper, 1993)
* "Zopilote Machine" - CD, cassette (Ajax, 1994), CD/LP (3 Beads of Sweat, 2005)
* "Sweden" - CD/LP (Shrimper, 1995)
* "Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg" - (Unreleased, 1995)
* "Nothing for Juice" - CD/LP (Ajax, 1996), CD (3 Beads of Sweat, 2005)
* "Full Force Galesburg" - CD/LP (Emperor Jones, 1997)
* "The Coroner's Gambit" - CD/LP (Absolutely Kosher, 2000)
* "All Hail West Texas" - CD (Emperor Jones, 2002)
* "Tallahassee" - CD/LP (4AD, 2002)
* "We Shall All Be Healed" - CD/LP (4AD, 2004)
* "The Sunset Tree" - CD/LP (4AD, 4/26/05)
* "Come, Come to the Sunset Tree" - limited-edition LP (4AD, 4/26/05)
* "Get Lonely" - CD/LP (4AD, 8/22/06)
* "Heretic Pride" CD/LP (4AD, 2/19/08)

ingles and EPs

* "Songs for Petronius" - 7" EP (Shrimper, 1992)
* "Transmissions to Horace" - cassette EP (Sonic Enemy, 1993)
* "Chile de Árbol" - 7" EP (Ajax, 1993)
* "Taking the Dative" - cassette EP (Car in Car, 1994)
* "Yam, the King of Crops" - cassette EP (Oska, 1994)
* "Beautiful Rat Sunset" - 10"/CD EP (Shrimper, 1994)
* "Philyra" - 7" EP (Theme Park, 1994)
* "Why You All So Thief?" - 7" EP (split with Simon Joyner) (Sing Eunuchs, 1994)
* "Orange Raja, Blood Royal" - 7" EP (with Alastair Galbraith) (Walt, 1995)
* "Songs for Peter Hughes" - 7" EP (Sonic Squid, 1995)
* "Songs About Fire" - 7" EP (Cassiel, 1995)
* "Nine Black Poppies" - CD EP (Emperor Jones, 1995)
* "Jack and Faye" [] - EP (unreleased, 1996)
* "Tropical Depression EP" - 7" EP (split with Furniture Huschle) (Little Mafia, 1997)
* "New Asian Cinema" - 1-sided 12" EP (Yoyo, 1998)
* "Isopanisad Radio Hour" - 1-sided 12" EP (Yoyo, 2000)
* "On Juhu Beach" - 3" CD EP (Nursecall, 2001)
* "Devil in the Shortwave" - 1-sided 12" EP (Yoyo, 2002)
* "Jam Eater Blues" - 7" single (Sub Pop, 2002)
* "See America Right" - 7"/CD single (4AD, 2002)
* "Palmcorder Yajna" - 7"/CD single (4AD, 2003)
* "Letter from Belgium" - 7"/CD single (4AD, 2004)
* "Dilaudid EP" - Download only EP (4AD, 2005)
* "Babylon Springs EP" - Australian tour EP (4AD, 2006)
* "Satanic Messiah" - 2x7"/digital EP (2008)
* "Black Pear Tree EP" - vinyl EP (with Kaki King) (2008)

Collections (of previously released material)

* "Protein Source of the Future...Now!" - CD (Ajax, 1999; 3 Beads of Sweat, 2002)
* "Bitter Melon Farm" - CD (Ajax, 1999; 3 Beads of Sweat, 2002)
* "Ghana" - CD (3 Beads of Sweat, 2002)

Related bands

* The Congress (John Darnielle with Mark Givens and others)
* The Extra Glenns (John Darnielle with Franklin Bruno)
* The Seneca Twins (John Darnielle with Lalitree Chavanothai and Chris Butler)
* The Bloody Hawaiians (John Darnielle with Joel Huschle, Mark Givens and Caroline)
* The Salvation Brothers (John Darnielle played drums for the band's live sets)
* The Comedians (John Darnielle with John Vanderslice)
* Satan's Fingers
* The Hospital Bombers

ong series

Scattered among the releases are song series: thematically interconnected ruminations on a single theme. Each EP and album is a project to be understood alone and as a part of an interrelated whole. Releases would often contain quotes, mostly in Latin, that gave hints to the theme of the piece.

Alpha series

Songs in this category concern the same fictional couple, described as a heterosexual lower-middle-class man and woman who originally loved each other genuinely, and held generally ordinary concerns for one another's well-being, but whose relationship has degraded for a variety of reasons, most often a series of fights or drug and/or alcohol abuse, possibly both. Whatever the causes for their current situation, their love has not so much died as warped into the sincere, all-consuming desire of each of them to see the other drink themselves to death; thus, to facilitate this "walk down to the bottom", as described in the liner notes, the couple keep whatever liquor they can afford on hand for each other and stay together.

The album Tallahassee, being entirely about the Alpha couple, begins with the pair buying a run-down house in the eponymous capital of Florida, follows their degradation, and ends with a vision of the house and both of them being consumed in flames. Other songs not found on Tallahassee, however, usually named "Alpha" in part to signify that they're about the couple, deal with similar situations, if not the same situation. The songs below, not found on Tallahassee, fit into the series:

  • Alpha Aquae
  • Alpha Compunction
  • Alpha Desperation March
  • Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina
  • Alpha Gelida
  • Alpha Incipiens
  • The Alphonse Mambo
  • Alpha Negative
  • Alpha Omega
  • Alpha Sun Hat
  • Alpha in Tauris
  • Alphabetizing
  • Design Your Own Container Garden
  • Ethiopians
  • Fit Alpha Vi
  • Going to Dade County
  • Letter From a Motel (or if you prefer: Letter from the Alpha Motel (or if you prefer: Letter from the Alpha Privative Motel))
  • One Winter At Point Alpha Privative
  • Spilling Toward Alpha

Going to ... series

The 44 songs in this category are generally about needing to get out of a place and/or thinking life will magically improve by moving somewhere new. The characters are not the same from song to song. The songs contained in the "Going To..." series are as follows:

*Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina
*Flight 717: Going to Denmark
*Going to Alaska
*Going to Bangor
*Going to Bogota
*Going to Bolivia
*Going to Bridlington
*Going to Bristol
*Going to Buffalo
*Going to Chino
*Going to Cleveland
*Going to Dade County
*Going to East Rutherford
*Going to France
*Going to Georgia
*Going to Hungary
*Going to Jamaica
*Going to Japan
*Going to Kansas
*Going to Kirby Sigston
*Going to Lebanon
*Going to Lubbock
*Going to Maine
*Going to Malibu
*Going to Marrakesh
*Going to Maryland
*Going to Mexico
*Going to Michigan
*Going to Monaco
*Going to Morocco
*Going to Norwalk
*Going to Palestine
*Going to Pomona (Or: Going Through Pomona)
*Going to Port Washington
*Going to Queens
*Going to Reykjavik
*Going to San Diego
*Going to Santiago
*Going to Scotland
*Going to Some Damned English City
*Going to Spain
*Going to Spirit Lake
*Going to Tennessee
*Going to Utrecht
*Going to Wisconsin

Orange Ball series

The title of this series comes from a book by Don DeLillo in which the sun is repeatedly described as an "orange ball". The songs contained in the "Orange Ball" series are as follows:

*Orange Ball of Hate
*Orange Ball of Love
*Orange Ball of Pain
*Orange Ball of Peace

Quetzalcoatl series

Quetzalcoatl ("feathered serpent" or "plumed serpent") is the Nahuatl name for the Feathered-Serpent deity of ancient Mesoamerica, one of the main gods of many Mexican and northern Central American civilizations and also the name given to some Toltec rulers, the most famous being Topiltzin Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl. The songs included in the Quetzalcoatl series are as follows:

*Quetzalcoatl Comes Through
*Quetzalcoatl Eats Plums
*Quetzalcoatl is Born

In other media

The band's song "Cotton" is prominently featured in an episode of the television series "Weeds" (season one's "The Punishment Light"). The song "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" is featured in another episode of the series. The song "No Children" was featured on the season premier episode of Moral Orel titled "Numb."


Further reading

* Adams, Tim (2004). [ "Discography of The Mountain Goats"] . Retrieved 19 March 2005
* Adams, Tim (2005). [ "Mountain Goats Discography"] . Retrieved 19 March 2005
* staff (2004). [ "The Mountain Goats FAQ"] . Retrieved 20 March 2005
* unknown author (2003). [ "Tallahassee Biography"] . Retrieved 20 March 2005
* Nickey, Jason(2000). [ "Mountain Goats Biography"] . Retrieved 20 March 2005

External links

* [ Official site]
* []
* [ Information Site by a Previous Label]
* [ Last Plane To Jakarta, John Darnielle's zine]
* [ Five Tools] Peter Hughes webpage with band photos and tour journals.
* [ Mountain Goats shows] posted to the Internet Archive
* [ Lazy-i Interview: November 2002]
* [ "Darnielle on the Edge of Town"] considers the similarities between John Darnielle and Bruce Springsteen.
* [ New York Noise] The Mountain Goats at the Pitchfork Music Fest
* [ Mountain Goats video for "Woke Up New"]
* [ John Darnielle interview] 2005
* [ John Darnielle interview] 2006
* [ "Sax Rohmer #1 Music Video]
* [ Essay on the Mountain Goats song "Heretic Pride."]
* [ John Darnielle article from The Wall Street Journal]
*MusicBrainz artist|id=9639cd52-c351-4a17-9797-58880e95a7ef.html|name=The Mountain Goats
* [ Mountain Goats interview] 2006

Musicians from Denton, Texas

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