As we mentioned in our This Weekend in Nashville post yesterday, west coast folk rockers the Mountain Goats will be gracing the stage of Mercy Lounge this evening in support of their new album Transcendental Youth. With two decades and thirteen previous releases under their belts, it would be understandable if the band sounded a bit tired by now. Instead, they sound relaxed, focused, and fresher than ever. Transcendental Youth is a dense, melodic, polished and beautiful record that is a perfect summation of the sound the Mountain Goats have been shaping since gravitating towards a full-band aesthetic about a decade ago. It was the first real “fall” record for me this year, and since the weather today feels more like the beginning of October (when the record dropped) than the beginning of December, tonight’s a great chance to relive and reflect on the fall as we fade into winter!
Though they’re very much a full band, the Mountain Goats started as a vehicle for and remain artistically driven by the vision of frontman/songwriter John Darnielle. Darnielle is transfixed by giving his records a concept- not making “concept albums” per se, but crafting a batch of songs with some artistically and thematically unifying thread (whether it be geographic, biblical, or emotional). On Transcendental Youth, that thread is the story of marginalized social outcasts living in Washington state. This thematic cohesion holds little bearing on the quality of their live show (which is fantastic- refined from many, many years of touring), but it’s still a reassuring testament to the extra care the band still pays to their craft, over two decades in.
Fun fact: this video from 2006 was directed by Rian Johnson, the director of this summer’s critically-revered sci-fi breakthrough ‘Looper’:
Matthew E. White‘s recently released debut album Big Inner has been creating quite a stir among music critics and fans in the know- and for good reason! Hailing from Richmond, Virgina (a city I have a special affinity for), the soulful, contemplative, and exceptionally skilled singer-songer is aiming to start a musical revolution with his recently launched label/production company Spacebomb. With lush arrangements, a mind-blowing knack for combining old soul, Americana, and various musical traditions with modern, atmospheric rock- White is one of the most exciting enigmatic musical figures to materialize onto the musical landscape since Justin Vernon. A perfect match, I think, to have a new artist destined for greatness to be paired with an already established artist refusing to buck their relevance. Get to this show early, because you won’t want to miss a minute of it!
The Mountain Goats and Matthew E. White are performing tonight at Mercy Lounge. The show starts at 9PM (8PM doors) and tickets are still available here.