Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Closing Out The Decade:
The Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (2002)

I wrested with the idea of coming up with a list for the AGP's favorite releases of the last 10 years. After some serious back and forth, I made the decision that the last thing we need is another list. Instead we will feature some of the albums that have made a lasting impact on us. These are the albums that we told our friends to buy, annoyed our spouses with, and ultimately inspired us to launch this blog.

From now until the end of December The AGP will feature our favorite albums of the decade. Each week we will feature posts highlighting our favorite albums of the 00's. We will even have a few contributions from the AGP's extended family. We invite your comments, we want to know why you agree with us or perhaps why you think we're off our collective rockers.

We hope you'll join us as we take a look back at the albums that shaped the past 3,653 days our lives.
I got my introduction to The Mountain Goats in early 2002 when the band released All Hail West Texas on Emperor Jones. A superb 14 song collection of John Darnielle at his lo-fi best. It was also the last album by The Mountain Goats to be recorded on Darnielle's Panasonic RX-FT500 Boombox. In November The Mountain Goats went on to release Tallahassee their 2nd album of 2002 and their first for the legendary indie label, 4AD.

Tallahassee was recorded at Tarbox Studio in Cassadaga, NY with John Darnielle sharing recording, mixing, and production credits with Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian/Mogwai). The album also features past Darnielle collaborators, Peter Hughes and Franklin Bruno. As a result The Mountain Goats sound more like a band unit than ever before.

The full band arrangements and the expensive studio did not take any of the unpolished charm out of the Tallahassee, in fact the expanded instrumentation and full production brings something new to the table. Tallahassee is a concept album about a dysfunctional couple, A couple who share a life of love, anger, bitterness, and alcohol. A couple that stays together out of spite, or as Darnielle sings on Internatiional Small Arms Traffic Blues: "My love is like a powder keg /in the corner of an empty warehouse/somewhere outside of town/about to burn down."

As far as I can tell John Darnielle isn't capable of writing a bad song, and nowhere is that more evident than on the 14 tracks of Tallahassee. An album I go back to frequently and it still chills me to the bone. The record transcends you into the messy world of this couple, hanging on to each other by a thread. It's as dark as it is beautiful.Tallahassee is an absolute classic.

Buy Tallahassee at the 4AD store

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