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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Mountain Goats
The Coroner's Gambit
Absolutely Kosher Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
The collection of songs found on the Mountain Goats 9th full length record, The Coroner's Gambit, are so stark, so naked, and so bare, that they can only be categorized as so genius that it takes days just wrap your head around it's addictiveness.

Though I am not particularly familiar with the Mountain Goats', or more specifically John Darnielle (the only mountain goat grazing in this pasture), seemingly prolific ten-year career, I can definitely see why such greatness is followed as closely and as rabidly as his.

The album is recorded exclusively on an old boom box, and the harshness of that, coupled with the raw, but somehow glorious tone of Darnielle's acoustic guitar, which he feverishly plays with the enthusiasm of a hyper active kid attempting to break free from a leash tied to the monkey bars on the playground, make it plainly clear that the most powerful songwriting can come in small and simple packages.

Darnielle, whose influence on Bright Eye's Connor Oberst or Geoff Farina's Secret Stars project is completely obvious, sings with the rushed expression of a man that has lived life long enough to know that the sorrows and frustrations of the world are unsolvable, and that sometimes it is just easier to write a song about it instead.

This type of attitude is brilliantly displayed on the heated "Scotch Grove," as Darnielle spits out the line "Leanne Rimes on the car stereo, singing that song I hate," as he beats his twelve string guitar with blurred octave chords within an inch of life.

With all the heart on sleeve-isms and honesty pouring out of Darnielle, he never sacrifices a catchy melody, singing and playing the majority of the album in surprisingly major chord structures. Although it is hard to imagine the line "If I ever want to drive myself insane, all I have to do is watch you breathing," (in "There Will Be No Divorce") without some sappiness and drippy minor key obviousness, Darnielle manages to pull it off without any sort of problem.

Any fan of Guided By Voices' lo-fi heyday will no doubt be right at home snuggling up to the Mountain Goats' The Coroner's Gambit. But, where Pollard and company got their jollies off ranting about valuable hunting knives and hot freaks, Darnielle effortlessly weaves the constant buzz of tape hiss with the swirling honesty of storytelling.

Reviewed by Ryan Allen
A former staff writer with fabulous hair, Ryan Allen once fronted Red Shirt Brigade with his brother, Scott. He currently fronts the art/fashion punk band Thunderbirds Are Now!, with is brother, Scott.

See other reviews by Ryan Allen

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