North Carolina indie folk cult favorites The Mountain Goats seem to make it to Nashville every record cycle these days, and with as frequently as they make albums, that’s always good news for us. Their latest, upcoming 16th LP Goths, is extra special, because this time round they actually recorded in Nashville too, culminating in one of the biggest sonic departures and coolest concepts in years from a band known for subverting expectations. Upgrading to Cannery Ballroom for their latest Music City stop tonight, May 23 with buzzy Athens up and comers Mothers, John Darnielle and co. are guaranteed to dazzle with their eclectic, high-brow, story-driven indie folk and magnetic live show. Tickets are still available here, so secure your spot and read on for more!
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS
While, throughout the new millennium and especially in recent years, indie folksters The Mountain Goats have achieved, if not ubiquitously mainstream, then at least massive cult success, only the serious fans (or those old enough to have been dialed into the underground scene at the time) might be familiar with the group’s more lo-fi, eclectic origins. Originally conceived as a solo project for frontman and creative force John Darnielle, throughout the ’90s The Mountain Goats were known for creating a prolific stream of lo-fi, experimental, analog recordings, many rare and in limited quantities, navigating a wide range of specific themes and story-driven concepts, which would set the template for the band’s creative core. After a run of more formal studio releases and a revolving door of talented collaborators, Darnielle assembled a more permeant band, and, by the early ’00s, the Goats had drifted towards a polished, folk informed, indie rock sound, 2002’s beloved All Hail West Texas serving as something of a culmination of many years of experimenting in lo-fi, and a bridge to the group’s more recent era.
Known for crafting albums around very specific, wildly creative themes (for example 2015’s Beat the Champ, an imaginative pondering in the personal lives of wrestlers John idolized in his youth), The Mountain Goats do, occasionally, wander into areas of personal influence, and their latest, Goths, though still very concept-driven, definitely bears an air of firsthand experience. Centered around the core concept of its title, the new album, which arrived last week and was recorded here in Nashville at the famed Blackbird Studio, takes an opportunity to navigate personal stories, history lessons, and new sonic palates, anchored around Darnielle and the band’s view and personal experience of what it means to be “goth,” a creative and morbidly curious outsider. Totally devoid of guitar, it manages to be one of the most surprising and unique releases from a band with quite a deep catalogue, and with its personal connection to Nashville (the Nashville Symphony Choir also appear on “Rain in Soho,” below), we’re even more excited to hear it brought to life in person!
Relatively new to the scene, Athens, Georgia based Mothers began as a solo vehicle for frontwoman and visual artist Kristine Leschper, conceived as a new artistic outlet as she finished up her studies in printmaking at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. A self-taught singer and multi-instrumentalist, influenced by experimental folk and moody indie rock, Kristine developed her own local following throughout 2013 and 2014, during which time she began writing much of the material that would appear on Mothers’ debut. Deciding to expand the project into a full band, Leschper recruited drummer and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Anderegg, a fan of her work, to add broader instrumentation, eventually rounding out Mothers’ lineup with guitarist Drew Kirby and bassist Patrick Morales.
The group tapped producer Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Deerhunter) to helm their debut, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, which dropped last year, and, ahead of its release, found an initial wave of buzz for self-recorded b-side “No Crying in Baseball.” With poetic, conceptual, and artistic lyricism and arrangements, Mothers’ range of influences is broader than initial meets the eye, pulling not just from indie and folk, but also math rock and post-hardcore. After live dates with of Montreal and a run of festival appearances last year, Mothers are winning over fans and critics alike with their personal, hypnotizing style and sweeping, eclectic, sonic sensibilities. Be sure to show up early, because you need to know this band!
The Mountain Goats and Mothers will perform tonight, May 23 at Cannery Ballroom. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $23.