My 50 Favorite Albums of 2008: #31

Number 31

Entering his seventeenth year as the singular artist behind The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle has been quietly writing and recording music that can be compared to virtually nothing else but his own distinctive sound. At times there is a wild sense of humor to his songwriting, then at others a crushingly personal perspective, and Darnielle truly feels what he writes and sings, which makes it easy to place him alongside the most important artists of his generation. 20o4 marked the first time he would enlist John Vanderslice to produce one of his records. We Shall All Be Healed would be the beginning of a beautifully meshed working friendship between the two talents, and it also ushered in a confrontation to Darnielle’s bruising past, with the first song-reflected confessions of an abuse-filled era he experienced while growing up. On 2005’s The Sunset Tree, the aching reality of what he had been through was hammered home in full-album scope, but combined with a mostly upbeat structure it was a very rewarding experience, both emotionally and musically. Vanderslice’s production was the perfect combination for what Darnielle had in mind for that album. After a somber record produced entirely by Vanderslice-helmer, Scott Solter in 2006 called Get Lonely, he has returned for another effort, Heretic Pride, which is produced in equal parts by both Vanderslice and Solter. This one really comes together in full when the three individuals are all obviously reading from the same artistic page, and they are right from the beginning on Heretic Pride. The Bloomington-born songwriter just gets better with age – as all of the truly great songwriters do – and this is arguably his best set of music so far in his long career. There’s not a dull moment on this album, and the back-to-back duo of tracks 7 and 8 are enough to give it a place on any best-of list this year.

1.Sax Rohmer #1
2.San Bernadino
3.Heretic Pride
5.New Zion
6.So Desperate
7.In the Craters on the Moon
8.Lovecraft in Brooklyn
9.Tianchi Lake
10.How To Embrace A Swamp Creature
11.Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident
12.Sept 15, 1983
13.Michael Myers Resplendent


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