mountain goats

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The Cave Singers: Invitation Songs (Matador)

The Cave Singers: Invitation Songs (Matador)

Singers don't come with a more appropriate surname than Peter Quirk of Seattle's Cave Singers -- his vocals are indeed quirky. He delivers with nail-hard and assertive confidence, doesn't seem to have much of a range and there is a constant shudder to his sound. Yet in these 10 originals by this three-piece his declamatory style rides over...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

Co-produced by John Vanderslice, the typically opaque lyrics by John Darnielle are given space and clarity so as to bewilder and bemuse you by turns. Not many people write songs with titles like Sax Rohmer #1, How to Embrace a Swamp Creature, Marduk T-Shirt Men's Room Incident and Michael Myers Resplendent. But here augmented by some...

Speck Mountain, Summer Above (Blunt Brown)

Speck Mountain, Summer Above (Blunt Brown)

And if you are looking for more of that ethereal, drifting alt.pop with a slight space-rock country-folk atmosphere about it (you didn't know you were looking?) then Speck Mountain from Chicago have delivered this enticing and intimate item. I know nothing about them other than this album which is enchanting in a low impact way: recorded on...

Bonnie Prince Billy: Lie Down in the Light (UKSpin)

Bonnie Prince Billy: Lie Down in the Light (UKSpin)

After establishing himself as the downbeat and somewhat gloomy singer-songwriter living in a half-lit corner of oldtime Americana, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace, Palace Brothers etc etc) sounds like he has changed his listening habits and maybe gone into a sun-soaked cornfield.Some will find this disappointing and it does need to...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra (Inertia)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra (Inertia)

This slight American singer-songwriter impressed hugely on a brief New Zealand tour a few years ago when he delivered his reflective acoustic songs and wry between-songs banter to very small but appreciative audiences.Cult figure then -- and much the same today I am guessing.Here with a small string section (and his own impressive catalogue of...

The Mountain Goats: The Eternal's Deck (Merge)

The Mountain Goats: The Eternal's Deck (Merge)

The dramatic, almost declamatory, voice of John Darnielle (aka The Mountain Goats) is as distinctive as it is well enunciated. You get every word he sings, which means you are dragged from one poetic line to another where images tumble over one another (think Dylan '65-'66) and if there is a story it comes from an accumulation of ideas and...

The Haints of Dean Hall: The Haints of Dean Hall (Arch Hill)

The Haints of Dean Hall: The Haints of Dean Hall (Arch Hill)

This off-kilter and eerily dreamy slice of Americana from a conjured up "South" comes from an unexpected source: the Haints of Dean Hall are in fact Stephen Reay and singer/photographer Kathryn McCool, the former from the rowdy Flying Nun band the Subliminals and the latter who now lives near Melbourne. A haint is an imagined ghost...

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