14 November 2007


I've made changes. I don't know if I like them. We'll see how long they/I last. If you've an opinion, you could probably sound off in the comments (and you could also probably undertake a healthy mental self-examination that starts with the question, "Why do I have an opinion about the visual appeal of the generally rubbish upto12 blahg?"). Let's move on, then.

Of late, I've felt more 31 than ever. And there are only a couple things that seem positive about feeling more 31 than ever. One of them: "The Sunset Tree" by the Mountain Goats. I know, I'm behind the curve again (duh); it's been out for a few years now. In my defense however, the album's been securely lodged in my iTunes for at least 6 months (at least!). But over the last month, wow, John Darnielle's masterpiece has been the soundtrack of too many too-late nights at the office and the utterly depressing feeling attached to walking down the back stairwell into the dark (even if it's only 6:00pm) parking lot and trudging toward a car that is the only remaining blemish on a now-spotless grid. Dramatic, eh? I don't apologize.

All that said, John Darnielle manages to construct an album that sounds and feels (to me, anyway) like being 31. Yes, I know "The Sunset Tree" is all about abusive, alcoholic, dysfunctional families and strained relationships. But I'm not talking about lyrics or words or symbols here. I'm talking about the way a song feels when its rhythms and twists and turns stick in your head. As strange as it seems for a writer to admit, I don't listen to lyrics much. I'm not a word-obsessed academic. Truth is, I don't care much at all for words themselves. But I do love the sounds they make, the beats they create and the stops and runs they forge in a song. And, despite (or because of...) the fact that his vocal inflections make take some getting used to, I don't know that anyone can match the lyrical rhythm of John Darnielle and his Mountain Goats records.

I suppose there's a solid endorsement here somewhere, a "go out and buy this record!" or something. But I'm also willing to admit that this sort of album may only be suited for 31-year-olds who are feeling more 31 than ever. And that's just all right. Someday you'll be 31 and "The Sunset Tree" will be waiting.


Jimboborazzala said...

You just found this???!!! And here I thought you were the musical equivalent of a 33rd degree Master Mason. The album is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. I kept it in the car forever back when it came out in '05 and for some reason played "Up the Wolves" like it was metal, screaming at the top of my lungs about bribing the officials and killing the judges. That and the "half-eaten cartons of ice cream" lyric on track 2. After I heard the album, I wrote a pleading e-mail to John Darnielle to get him to come to SLC. It was never answered.

kake said...

but, i like this album, and i'm way younger than you. does that mean i'm aging prematurely? or my musical tastes are just mature beyond my years?

the new look is growing on me. i loved those little amps. and i have an opinion because it doesn't matter. i always have an opinion on things that don't matter.

upto12 said...


I've probably had the album for about a year. No lies. And I really liked it. Now, however, I'm a bit obsessed. The first five or so tracks all run together in the most frantic and wonderful storytelling I've heard in a long long time. John Darnielle is a crazy genius. You ever read his blahg? Apparently he's a big fan of death metal... A BIG fan.

Dr. Neuroplastic said...

I have a high opinion of upto12, because it's a blahg.

Dainon. said...

I remember 31 with fond, fond memories. Seems like it was only a couple years ago, it really does.

P.S. Thanks for turning me onto this album. If you ever want to feel out of place, try seeing the Goats in concert, surrounded by a crowd of hipsters that screams out the lyrics along with him, only a whole lot louder than he's able to. But, with the obsession being what it is, I suppose that'll be impossible for you to do. Welcome to the Goats Fan Club.